• Babel by Cemil Meriç (Translation)

    “Babel,” the first chapter of Cemil Meriç’s Bu Ülke, is translated here to English for the first time. Meriç, a Turkish intellectual, inspired many scholars and leaders in post-Kemalist Turkey. “Babel” is a critical discussion of Kemalist intellectuals’ cultural and political outlook and the cultural reforms they instated. Meriç refuses to accept the divisions between East and West, religious and secular, and Right and Left which he sees as straitjackets imported from Christian Europe that prevent freedom of thought. At the same time, his writing integrates a philosophy inspired by the West with one that originates in the East and creates a symbiosis between them. He challenges the premises of the Turkish modernization project and the attempt to create a new generation, new state, new language and new culture. Writing in a subversive language, Meriç contends that a reformist project disconnected from its past is doomed to a lack of substance and failure.

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  • Oren Barak. The Lebanese Army: A National Institution in a Divided Society. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009. 272 pp.

    Oren Barak. The Lebanese Army: A National Institution in a Divided Society. Albany: State University of New York Press, 2009. 272 pp.

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  • The Assimilation of Spain’s Moriscos: Fiction or Reality?

    The proponents of the expulsion of the Moriscos from Spain not only argued that the Moriscos, in the more than one hundred years that had elapsed since their conversion, had not assimilated to the majority Castilian Catholic culture, but that they were incapable of doing so. As a result, the expulsion was both inevitable and necessary. This view has dominated studies on the Moriscos since their expulsion four hundred years ago. In this article I aim to show that some groups of Moriscos had assimilated or were well on the road to assimilation, and that in their case (and that of others too) the expulsion was a human tragedy that was neither inevitable nor necessary.

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  • Masquerade and the Performance of National Imaginaries: Levantine Ethics, Aesthetics, and Identities in Egyptian Cinema

    Egyptian films from the 1930s through the 1950s reflected the diversity of Egypt’s cities. This article argues that a subtle but notable shift in the semiotics of otherness—from a Levantine idiom to a less fluid construction of ethno-religious identity—occurs over this period in Egyptian cinema. Analysis of the films Salamah fi khayr [Salama is Fine] and al-cIzz bahdala [Mistreated by Affluence], both released in 1937, reveals what the author identifies as a “Levantine” idiom. These films articulate an ethics of coexistence, adopt a visual language of inclusion, and represent identity as fluid and mutable. Postwar “ethnic comedies” such as Faṭimah wa-Marika wa-Rashil [Fatima, Marika, and Rachel, (1949)] and Ḥasan wa-Murqus wa-Kohayn [Hasan, Marcus, and Cohen (1954)], continue to take Egyptian diversity for granted. However, as this article demonstrates, the characteristics that had defined Levantine cinema—ethics, aesthetics, and fluidity of identity—are no longer present. All the films under discussion treat ethno-religious and national identity as performance. However, that being said, the valences attached to the comic appropriation of an identity not one’s own via role play, assumed identities, and sudden, disorienting class mobility shift over time in nuanced but significant ways. In establishing the idioms of “Levantine cinema” and “ethnic comedies,” this article also takes as a counterpoint the 2008 film Ḥasan wa-Murqus [Hasan and Marcus] which draws upon these earlier Egyptian cinematic traditions in constructing its own discourse of coexistence.

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  • Michelle U. Campos. Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011. 360 pp.

    Michelle U. Campos. Ottoman Brothers: Muslims, Christians and Jews in Early Twentieth-Century Palestine. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011. 360 pp.

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  • Between Cultural and National Nahda: Jewish Intellectuals in Baghdad and the Nation-Building Process in Iraq

    This article focuses on the role of Jewish intellectuals in defining a national and cultural identity for their coreligionists in Iraq during the establishment of the state by the British in the years 1921 until 1932. Based primarily on their contributions in the press, their poetry and memoirs, this article discusses the responsibility that Iraqi Jewish thinkers and writers took on themselves in order to participate in the national and literary revival, the Nahda, from which they hoped the entire Jewish community would benefit. Their responses to anti-imperialist debates in Iraqi intellectual circles and stance on sectarianism and secularism is examined through analysis of the themes and terminologies used by three Baghdadi Jewish intellectuals: Nissim Susa (1900-1982) Anwar Sha’ul (1904-1984), and Mir Basri (1911-2006). Is there a common trend among these three regarding their perception of the nation? How is writing employed to foster national consciousness?

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  • Ursula Wokoeck. German Orientalism: The Study of the Middle East and Islam from 1800-1945. New York: Routledge, 2009. 333 pp.

    Ursula Wokoeck. German Orientalism: The Study of the Middle East and Islam from 1800-1945. New York: Routledge, 2009. 333 pp.

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  • Harbingers of Feminism: A New Look at the Works of Pioneering Palestinian Women Writers

    This article brings to light the harbingers of the tradition of Palestinian women’s writing in a gendered reading of the works of two leading, post-1948 women writers, Samira ʿAzzam and Najwa Qaʿwar-Farah. The article examines why literary critics ignored the feminine dimension of these writers’ works, and saw them as imitating and adapting existing patterns and conventions of writing. The article shows, how both thematically and stylistically, these early writers highlighted their feminine presence and that of their heroines; to what extent they succeeded in imbuing their writing with feminist messages; and how they enabled later women writers by laying the foundations of a tradition of women’s literature.

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  • Review Essay: Georges Tarabichi and the Religionization of the Public Sphere: A Heretic Voice from the East

    Georges Tarabichi. هرطقات [Heresies]
    Vol. I: عن الديموقراطية والعلمانية والحداثة والممانعة العربية [On Democracy, Secularism, Modernity and Arab
    Reluctance], 3rd ed. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi and The Association of Arab Rationalists, 2011. 237 pp.
    Vol. II: العلمانية كإشكالية إسلامية – إسلامية [Secularism as an Intra-Islamic Issue], 2nd ed. Beirut: Dar al-Saqi and The Association of Arab Rationalists, 2011. 253 pp.

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  • Challenging Religious and Secularist Patriarchy: Islamist Women’s New Activism in Turkey

    Since the late 1990s, following the state’s process of de-politicization and exclusion, educated Islamist women in the urban centers of Turkey have been active in raising Muslim women’s identity consciousness and generating solidarity with those affected by the headscarf ban. In the women’s organizations analyzed in this article, Islamist women are carving out a niche to challenge both secularist and Islamist patriarchal practices and discourse. This article contends that organized Islamist women have become significant actors in autonomously mobilizing religious women—in the political parties and in the Islamic movement—in the democratization process. The Islamist women’s learning process has opened them up to dialogue and cooperation—on gender equality and other liberalization issues—with secular women as well as with other oppressed groups. However, their “feminist” stance creates some dilemmas for Islamist and secular women.

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