By Area: Middle East & Israel
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An Anthropology of War
Views from the Frontline
Waterston, A. (ed)
As we move deeper into the twenty-first century, power, lethal force, and injustice continue to explode violently into war, and the prospects for lasting peace look even bleaker. The horrors of modern warfare - the death, dehumanization, and destruction of social and material infrastructures - have done little to bring an end to armed conflict.
In this volume, leading chroniclers of war provide thoughtful and powerful essays that reflect on their ethnographic work at the frontlines. The contributors recount not only what they have seen and heard in war zones but also what is being read, studied, analyzed and remembered in such diverse locations as Colombia and Guatemala, Israel and Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Haiti. In detailed reports from the field, they reflect on the important issue of “accountability” and offer explanations to discern causes, patterns, and practices of war. Through this unique lens, the contributors provide the insight and analysis needed for a deeper understanding of one of the greatest issues of our times.
Avram Bornstein, Paul E. Farmer, R. Brian Ferguson, Lesley Gill, Beatriz Manz, Carolyn Nordstrom, Stephen Reyna, Jose N. Vasquez
Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-east Africa
Volume I: Ethiopia and Kenya
Schlee, G. & Watson, E. E. (eds)
Forms of group identity play a prominent role in everyday lives and politics in northeast Africa. Case studies from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya illustrate the way that identities are formed and change over time, and how local, national, and international politics are interwoven. Specific attention is paid to the impact of modern weaponry, new technologies, religious conversion, food and land shortages, international borders, civil war, and displacement on group identities. Drawing on the expertise of anthropologists, historians and geographers, these volumes provide a significant account of a society profoundly shaped by identity politics and contribute to a better understanding of the nature of conflict and war, and forms of alliance and peacemaking, thus providing a comprehensive portrait of this troubled region.
Changing Identifications and Alliances in North-east Africa
Volume II: Sudan, Uganda, and the Ethiopia-Sudan Borderlands
Schlee, G. & Watson, E. E. (eds)
Forms of group identity play a prominent role in everyday lives and politics in north-east Africa. These volumes provide an interdisciplinary account of the nature and significance of ethnic, religious, and national identity in north-east Africa. Case studies from Sudan, Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya illustrate the way that identities are formed and change over time, and how local, national, and international politics are interwoven. Specific attention is paid to the impact of modern weaponry, new technologies, religious conversion, food and land shortages, international borders, civil war, and displacement on group identities. Drawing on the expertise of anthropologists, historians and geographers, these volumes provide a significant account of a society profoundly shaped by identity politics and contribute to a better understanding of the nature of conflict and war, and forms of alliance and peacemaking, thus providing a comprehensive portrait of this troubled region.
Conceptualizing Iranian Anthropology
Past and Present Perspectives
Nadjmabadi, S. (ed)
During recent years, attempts have been made to move beyond the Eurocentric perspective that characterized the social sciences, especially anthropology, for over 150 years. A debate on the “anthropology of anthropology” was needed, one that would consider other forms of knowledge, modalities of writing, and political and intellectual practices. This volume undertakes that challenge: it is the result of discussions held at the first organized encounter between Iranian, American, and European anthropologists since the Iranian Revolution of 1979. It is considered an important first step in overcoming the dichotomy between “peripheral anthropologies” versus “central anthropologies.” The contributors examine, from a critical perspective, the historical, cultural, and political field in which anthropological research emerged in Iran at the beginning of the twentieth century and in which it continues to develop today.
Subject: Theory & Methodology in Anthropology
Sahrawi and Afghan Refugees at the Margins of the Middle East
Chatty, D. (ed)
The Sahrawi and Afghan refugee youth in the Middle East have been stereotyped regionally and internationally: some have been objectified as passive victims; others have become the beneficiaries of numerous humanitarian aid packages which presume the primacy of the Western model of child development. This book compares and contrasts both the stereotypes and Western-based models of humanitarian assistance among Sahrawi youth with the lack of programming and near total self-sufficiency of Afghan refugee youth in Iran. Both extremes offer an important opportunity to further explore the impact which forced migration and prolonged conflict have had, and continue to have, on the lives of these refugee youth and their families. This study examines refugee communities closely linked with the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and a host of other UN agencies in the case of the Sahrawi and near total lack of humanitarian aid in the case of Afghan refugees in Iran.
Documenting Transnational Migration
Jordanian Men Working and Studying in Europe, Asia and North America
Most studies on transnational migration either stress assimilation, circulatory migration, or the negative impact of migration. This remarkable study, which covers migrants from one Jordanian village to 17 different countries in Europe, Asia, and North America, emphasizes the resiliency of transnational migrants after long periods of absence, social encapsulation, and stress, and their ability to construct social networks and reinterpret traditions in such a way as to mix the old and the new in a scenario that incorporates both worlds. Focusing on the humanistic aspects of the migration experience, this book examines questions such as birth control, women’s work, retention of tribal law, and the changing attitudes of migrants towards themselves, their families, their home communities, and their nation. It ends with placing transnational migration from Jordan in a cross-cultural perspective by comparing it with similar processes elsewhere, and critically reviews a number of theoretical perspectives that have been used to explain migration.
The Dream in Islam
From Qur'anic Tradition to Jihadist Inspiration
Edgar, I. R.
The war in the Middle East is marked by a lack of cultural knowledge on the part of the western forces, and this book deals with another, widely ignored element of Islam—the role of dreams in everyday life. The practice of using night dreams to make important life decisions can be traced to Middle Eastern dream traditions and practices that preceded the emergence of Islam. In this study, the author explores some key aspects of Islamic dream theory and interpretation as well as the role and significance of night dreams for contemporary Muslims. In his analysis of the Islamic debates surrounding the role of “true” dreams in historical and contemporary Islamic prophecy, the author specifically addresses the significance of Al-Qaeda and Taliban dream practices and ideology. Dreams of “heaven,” for example, are often instrumental in determining Jihadist suicidal action, and “heavenly” dreams are also evidenced within other contemporary human conflicts such as Israel–Palestine and Kosovo–Serbia. By exploring patterns of dreams within this context, a cross-cultural, psychological, and experiential understanding of the role and significance of such contemporary critical political and personal imagery can be achieved.
Subjects: General Anthropology Religion
Neoliberal Paradoxes of Empowerment
With the spread of neoliberal projects, responsibility for the welfare of minority and poor citizens has shifted from states to local communities. Businesses, municipalities, grassroots activists, and state functionaries share in projects meant to help vulnerable populations become self-supportive. Ironically, such projects produce odd discursive blends of justice, solidarity, and wellbeing, and place the languages of feminist and minority rights side by side with the language of apolitical consumerism. Using theoretical concepts of economic citizenship and emotional capitalism, Economic Citizenship exposes the paradoxes that are deep within neoliberal interpretations of citizenship and analyzes the unexpected consequences of applying globally circulating notions to concrete local contexts.
Subjects: General Anthropology Gender Studies Sociology
Having and Belonging
Homes and Museums in Israel
The home and the museum are typically understood as divergent, even oppositional, social realms: whereas one evokes privacy and familial intimacy, the other is conceived of as a public institution oriented around various forms of civic identity. This meticulous, insightful book draws striking connections between both spheres, which play similar roles by housing objects and generating social narratives. Through fascinating explorations of the museums and domestic spaces of eight representative Israeli communities—Chabad, Moroccan, Iraqi, Ethiopian, Russian, Religious-Zionist, Christian Arab, and Muslim Arab—it gives a powerful account of museums’ role in state formation, proposing a new approach to collecting and categorizing particularly well-suited to societies in conflict.
In the Best Interests of the Child
Loss and Suffering in Adoption Proceedings
Marshalling her experience as an expert witness in court proceedings on non-consensual, confidential adoption in Israel, Mass describes legal proceedings following the Israeli state petition that declares children eligible for adoption because of alleged parental incapability, and explores the politics of state intervention in the parent/child relationship. The selected case studies present the testimonies of the children, the parents, the designated adoptive parents, and the state’s representatives, as well as the author’s own testimony.
Islam and Assisted Reproductive Technologies
Sunni and Shia Perspectives
Inhorn, M. C. & Tremayne, S. (eds)
How and to what extent have Islamic legal scholars and Middle Eastern lawmakers, as well as Middle Eastern Muslim physicians and patients, grappled with the complex bioethical, legal, and social issues that are raised in the process of attempting to conceive life in the face of infertility? This path-breaking volume explores the influence of Islamic attitudes on Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs) and reveals the variations in both the Islamic jurisprudence and the cultural responses to ARTs.
Subject: Medical Anthropology
Islam and New Kinship
Reproductive Technology and the Shariah in Lebanon
Assisted reproductive technologies such as in vitro fertilization have provoked global controversy and ethical debate. This book provides a groundbreaking investigation into those debates in the Islamic Middle East, simultaneously documenting changing ideas of kinship and the evolving role of religious authority in the region through a combination of in-depth field research in Lebanon and an exhaustive survey of the Islamic legal literature. Lebanon, home to both Sunni and Shiite Muslim communities, provides a valuable site through which to explore the overall dynamism and diversity of global Islamic debate. As this book shows, Muslim perspectives focus on the moral propriety of such controversial procedures as the use of donor sperm and eggs as well as surrogacy arrangements, which are allowed by some authorities using surprising and innovative legal arguments. These arguments challenge common stereotypes of the rigidity and conservatism of Islamic law and compel us to question conventional contrasts between ‘liberal’ and Islamic notions of moral freedom, as well as the epistemological assumptions of anthropology’s own ‘new kinship studies’. This book will be essential reading for anyone interested in contemporary Islam and the impact of reproductive technology on the global social imaginary.
Subjects: Medical Anthropology Religion Gender Studies
Jews and Arabs Facing the Self and the Other
The question of identity is one of present-day Israel’s cardinal and most pressing issues. In a comprehensive examination of the identity issue, this study focuses on attitudes toward the Jewish people in Israel and the Diaspora; the Holocaust and its repercussions on identity; attitudes toward the state of Israel and Zionism; and attitudes toward Jewish religion. Israeli Arab students (Israeli Palestinians) and Jewish Israeli students were asked corresponding questions regarding their identity. It was found that, rather than lessening its impact over the years, the Holocaust has become a major factor, at times the paramount factor in Jewish identity. Similarly, among Palestinians the Naqba has become a major factor in Palestinian-Israeli identity. However, the overall results show that the identity of a Jewish citizen of Israel is not purely Israeli, nor is it purely Jewish. It is, to varying degrees, a synthesis of Jewish and Israeli components, depending on the particular sub-groups or sub-identities. The same holds for Israeli-Arabs or Israeli-Palestinians who have neither a purely Israeli identity nor a purely Palestinian (or Arab) one.
Subjects: Jewish Studies Sociology
Let Them Not Return
Sayfo – The Genocide Against the Assyrian, Syriac, and Chaldean Christians in the Ottoman Empire
Gaunt, D., Atto, N., & Barthoma, S. O. (eds)
The mass killing of Ottoman Armenians is today widely recognized, both within and outside scholarly circles, as an act of genocide. What is less well known, however, is that it took place within a broader context of Ottoman violence against minority groups during and after the First World War. Among those populations decimated were the indigenous Christian Assyrians (also known as Syriacs or Chaldeans) who lived in the borderlands of present-day Turkey, Iran, and Iraq. This volume is the first scholarly edited collection focused on the Assyrian genocide, or “Sayfo” (literally, “sword” in Aramaic), presenting historical, psychological, anthropological, and political perspectives that shed much-needed light on a neglected historical atrocity.
Subjects: Genocide Studies 20th Century History
Made In Egypt
Gendered Identity and Aspiration on the Globalised Shop Floor
Chakravarti, L. Z.
This ground-breaking ethnography of an export-orientated garment assembly factory in Egypt examines the dynamic relationships between its managers – emergent Mubarak-bizniz (business) elites who are caught in an intensely competitive globalized supply chain – and the local daily-life realities of their young, educated, and mixed-gender labour force. Constructions of power and resistance, as well as individual aspirations and identities, are explored through articulations of class, gender and religion in both management discourses and shop floor practices. Leila Chakravarti’s compelling study also moves beyond the confines of the factory, examining the interplay with the wider world around it.
Subjects: Gender Studies General Anthropology Sociology
Nazism, the Holocaust, and the Middle East
Arab and Turkish Responses
Nicosia, F. R. & Ergene, B. A. (eds)
Given their geographical separation from Europe, ethno-religious and cultural diversity, and subordinate status within the Nazi racial hierarchy, Middle Eastern societies were both hospitable as well as hostile to National Socialist ideology during the 1930s and 1940s. By focusing on Arab and Turkish reactions to German anti-Semitism and the persecution and mass-murder of European Jews during this period, this expansive collection surveys the institutional and popular reception of Nazism in the Middle East and North Africa. It provides nuanced and scholarly yet accessible case studies of the ways in which nationalism, Islam, anti-Semitism, and colonialism intertwined, all while sensitive to the region’s political, cultural, and religious complexities.
Subjects: Genocide Studies Jewish Studies
The Politics of Education Reform in the Middle East
Self and Other in Textbooks and Curricula
Alayan, S., Rohde, A., & Dhouib, S. (eds)
Education systems and textbooks in selected countries of the Middle East are increasingly the subject of debate. This volume presents and analyzes the major trends as well as the scope and the limits of education reform initiatives undertaken in recent years. In curricula and teaching materials, representations of the “Self” and the “Other” offer insights into the contemporary dynamics of identity politics. By building on a network of scholars working in various countries in the Middle East itself, this book aims to contribute to the evolution of a field of comparative education studies in this region.
Subjects: Educational Studies Sociology
Explorations of Urban Coexistence
Humphrey, C. & Skvirskaja, V. (eds)
Examining the way people imagine and interact in their cities, this book explores the post-cosmopolitan city. The contributors consider the effects of migration, national, and religious revivals (with their new aesthetic sensibilities), the dispositions of marginalized economic actors, and globalized tourism on urban sociality. The case studies here share the situation of having been incorporated in previous political regimes (imperial, colonial, socialist) that one way or another created their own kind of cosmopolitanism, and now these cities are experiencing the aftermath of these regimes while being exposed to new national politics and migratory flows of people.
Sharing Space in the Shadow of Conflict
Bryant, R. (ed)
In Southeast Europe, the Balkans, and Middle East, scholars often refer to the “peaceful coexistence” of various religious and ethnic groups under the Ottoman Empire before ethnonationalist conflicts dissolved that shared space and created legacies of division. Post-Ottoman Coexistence interrogates ways of living together and asks what practices enabled centuries of cooperation and sharing, as well as how and when such sharing was disrupted. Contributors discuss both historical and contemporary practices of coexistence within the context of ethno-national conflict and its aftermath.
Subjects: Peace & Conflict Studies Sociology
Education, Neoliberalism, and the Rise of the New Middle Class in Istanbul
Rutz, H. J. & Balkan, E. M.
Middle classes are by definition ambiguous, raising all sorts of paradoxical questions, perceived and real, about their power and place relative to those above and below them in a class-structured society. Focusing on families of the new middle class in Istanbul, the authors of this study address questions about the social construction of middle-class reality in the context of the rapid changes that have come about through recent economic growth in global markets and the global diffusion of information technology. After 1980, Turkey saw a structural transformation from state-owned and managed industry, banking, and media and communications to privatization and open markets. The idea of being middle class and the reality of middle-class practices became open for negotiation and interpretation. This study therefore offers a particularly interesting case study of an emergent global phenomenon known as the transnational middle class, characterized by their location of work in globalizing cities, development of transnational social networks, sumptuary consumption habits, and residences in gated communities. As the authors show, this new middle class associates quality education, followed by property and lifestyle issues, with the concept of a comfortable life.
Subjects: Political Economy General Anthropology
The Rite of Urban Passage
The Spatial Ritualization of Iranian Urban Transformation
The Iranian city experienced a major transformation when the Pahlavi Dynasty initiated a project of modernization in the 1920s. The Rite of Urban Passage investigates this process by focusing on the spatial dynamics of Muharram processions, a ritual that commemorates the tragic massacre of Hussein and his companions in 680 CE. In doing so, this volume offers not only an alternative approach to understanding the process of urban transformation, but also a spatial genealogy of Muharram rituals that provides a platform for developing a fresh spatial approach to ritual studies.
Subjects: General Anthropology Urban Studies Religion
Soldiering Under Occupation
Processes of Numbing among Israeli Soldiers in the Al-Aqsa Intifada
Often, violent behavior or harassment from a soldier is dismissed by the military as unacceptable acts by individuals termed, “rotten apples.” In this study, the author argues that this dismissal is unsatisfactory and that there is an urgent need to look at the (mis)behavior of soldiers from a structural point of view. When soldiers serve as an occupational force, they find themselves in a particular situation influenced by structural circumstances that heavily influence their behavior and moral decision-making. This study focuses on young Israeli men and their experiences as combat soldiers in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), particularly those who served in the “Occupied Palestinian Territories” (OPT) during the “Al Aqsa Intifada,” which broke out in 2000. In describing the soldiers’ circumstances, especially focusing on space, the study shows how processes of numbing on different levels influence the (moral) behavior of these soldiers.
Subjects: Peace & Conflict Studies General Anthropology
The Spirit of the Laws
The Plunder of Wealth in the Armenian Genocide
Akçam, T. & Kurt, U
Pertinent to contemporary demands for reparations from Turkey is the relationship between law and property in connection with the Armenian Genocide. This book examines the confiscation of Armenian properties during the genocide and subsequent attempts to retain seized Armenian wealth. Through the close analysis of laws and treaties, it reveals that decrees issued during the genocide constitute central pillars of the Turkish system of property rights, retaining their legal validity, and although Turkey has acceded through international agreements to return Armenian properties, it continues to refuse to do so. The book demonstrates that genocides do not depend on the abolition of the legal system and elimination of rights, but that, on the contrary, the perpetrators of genocide manipulate the legal system to facilitate their plans.
Subjects: Genocide Studies WWI History
Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation
Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation
Abdo, N. & Lentin, R. (eds)
As the crisis in Israel does not show any signs of abating, this remarkable collection, edited by an Israeli and a Palestinian scholar and with contributions by Palestinian and Israeli women, offers a vivid and harrowing picture of the conflict and of its impact on daily life, especially as it affects women's experiences that differ significantly from those of men.
The (auto)biographical narratives in this volume focus on some of the most disturbing effects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: a sense of dislocation that goes well beyond the geographical meaning of the word; it involves social, cultural, national and gender dislocation, including alienation from one's own home, family, community, and society. The accounts become even more poignant if seen against the backdrop of the roots of the conflict, the real or imaginary construct of a state to save and shelter particularly European Jews from the horrors of Nazism in parallel to the other side of the coin: Israel as a settler-colonial state responsible for the displacement of the Palestinian nation.