In October, Oxford University Press will release Inside the Muslim Brotherhood: Religion, Identity, and Politics by Khalil al-Anani (Doha Institute for Graduate Studies, Qatar). The publisher’s description follows:
Over the past three decades, through rises and falls in power, regime repression and exclusion, the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has endured, proving more resilient than any other Islamist movement in the world. In this book Khalil al-Anani explores the factors that have enabled the Brotherhood to survive so long within an ever-changing political landscape.
Inside the Muslim Brotherhood unpacks the principal factors that shape the movement’s identity, organization, and activism. Investigating the processes of socialization, indoctrination, recruitment, identification, networking, and mobilization that characterize the movement, al-Anani argues that the Brotherhood is not merely a political actor seeking power but an identity-maker that aims to change societal values, norms, and morals to line up with its ideology and worldview. The Brotherhood is involved in an intensive process of meaning construction and symbolic production that shapes individuals’ identity and gives sense to their lives. The result is a distinctive code of identity that binds members together, maintains their activism, and guides their behavior in everyday life. Al-Anani attributes the Brotherhood’s longevity to its tight-knit structure coupled with a complex membership system that has helped them resist regime penetration. The book also explores the divisions and differences within the movement and how these affect its strategy and decisions.
The culmination of over a decade of research and interviews with leaders and members of the movement, this book challenges the dominant narratives about Islamists and Islamism as a whole.
In August, New York University Press will release Contemporary Israel: New Insights and Scholarship edited by Frederick E. Greenspahn (Florida Atlantic University). The publisher’s description follows:
For a country smaller than Vermont, with roughly the same population as Honduras, modern Israel receives a remarkable amount of attention. For supporters, it is a unique bastion of democracy in the Middle East, while detractors view it as a racist outpost of Western colonialism. The romanticization of Israel became particularly prominent in 1967, when its military prowess shocked a Jewish world still reeling from the sense of powerlessness dramatized by the Holocaust. That imagery has grown ever more visible, with Israel’s supporters idealizing its technological achievements and its opponents attributing almost every problem in the region, if not beyond, to its imperialistic aspirations.
The contradictions and competing views of modern Israel are the subject of this book. There is much to consider about modern Israel besides the Middle East conflict. Over the past generation, a substantial body of scholarship has explored numerous aspects of the country, including its approaches to citizenship and immigration, the arts, the women’s movement, religious fundamentalism, and language; but much of that work has to date been confined within the walls of the academy. This book does not seek not to resolve either the country’s internal debates or its struggle with the Arab world, but to present a sample of contemporary scholars’ discoveries and discussions about modern Israel in an accessible way. In each of the areas discussed, competing narratives grapple for prominence, and it is these which are highlighted in this volume.
On July 28, Georgetown University’s Religious Freedom Project is hosting a conference entitled “Threats to Religious and Ethnic Minorities under the Islamic State.” Panelists at the conference include Knox Thames (State Department Office of International Religious Freedom), Breen Tahseen (Iraqi Diplomat), David Saperstein (U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom), and Saad Salloum (Masarat Religious Freedom Organization). The Religious Freedom Project’s description of the event follows:
In March 2016, the U.S. House of Representatives and Secretary of State John Kerry declared that the Islamic State (ISIS) is committing genocide against Christians, Yazidis, Shi’a Muslims, and other religious and ethnic minority groups in Syria and Iraq. In addition to these and other crimes against humanity, ISIS is also engaging in a campaign of ethnic cleansing against Kurds and even Sunni Muslims. Unfortunately, months later, ISIS and other violent extremist groups continue to target and terrorize their victims through rape, enslavement, and murder, while religious and cultural sites are systematically looted and destroyed.
To inform policymakers about the continuing travail of religious and ethnic minorities threatened by ISIS, and to galvanize long-term thinking about addressing this crisis, the Religious Freedom Project is hosting a daylong conference at Georgetown University.
During the conference, representatives of the targeted communities will share their personal experiences of religious persecution and their recommendations for policymakers. Among the questions they will engage are: What are the immediate security challenges posed by ISIS? What can we do now to ensure the viability of vulnerable religious and ethnic communities in Iraq and Syria? What steps need to be taken to ensure religious freedom, and how is religious freedom a possible antidote to future violence? Community representatives will be joined by distinguished policymakers, activists, and scholars.
This month, Routledge releases “Nation, Ethnicity and the Conflict in Afghanistan: Political Islam and the rise of ethno-politics 1992–1996,” by Raghav Sharma (O.P. Jindal Global University). The publisher’s description follows:
Ethnic and tribal loyalties in Afghanistan provided the lethal cocktail for the violent conflict that engulfed the country following the collapse of the Soviet backed government in 1992. The ensuing fighting between mujahideen groups paved the way for the tectonic social and political shifts, which continue to shape events today. What accounts for the emergence of ethnicity, as the main cause of conflict in Afghanistan? What moved people to respond with such fervour and intensity to calls for ethnic solidarity? This book attempts to make sense of ethnicity’s decisive role in Afghanistan through a comprehensive exploration of its nature and perception. Based on new data, generated through interviews, field notes and participant observations, Sharma maps the increased role of ethnicity in Afghan national politics. Key social, political and historical processes that facilitated its emergence as the pre-dominant fault-line of conflict are explored, moving away from grand political and military narrative to instead engage with zones of conflict as social spaces. This book will be of interest to students and scholars working in politics, ethnic studies and security studies.
In August, Cambridge University Press will release Authority and Identity in Medieval Islamic Historiography: Persian Histories from the Peripheries by Mimi Hanaoka (University of Richmond). The publisher’s description follows:
Intriguing dreams, improbable myths, fanciful genealogies, and suspect etymologies. These were all key elements of the historical texts composed by scholars and bureaucrats on the peripheries of Islamic empires between the tenth and fifteenth centuries. But how are historians to interpret such narratives? And what can these more literary histories tell us about the people who wrote them and the times in which they lived? In this book, Mimi Hanaoka offers an innovative, interdisciplinary method of approaching these sorts of local histories from the Persianate world. By paying attention to the purpose and intention behind a text’s creation, her book highlights the preoccupation with authority to rule and legitimacy within disparate regional, provincial, ethnic, sectarian, ideological and professional communities. By reading these texts in such a way, Hanaoka transforms the literary patterns of these fantastic histories into rich sources of information about identity, rhetoric, authority, legitimacy, and centre-periphery relations.
In September, the University of Toronto Press will release Ethics of War and Peace in Iran and Shi’i Islam by Mohammad Jafar Amir Mahallati (Oberlin College). The publisher’s description follows:
Nearly four decades after a revolution, experiencing one of the longest wars in contemporary history, facing political and ideological threats by regional radicals such as ISIS and the Taliban, and having succeeded in negotiations with six world powers over her nuclear program, Iran appears as an experienced Muslim country seeking to build bridges with its Sunni neighbours as well as with the West.
Ethics of War and Peace in Iran and Shi’i Islam explores the wide spectrum of theoretical approaches and practical attitudes concerning the justifications, causes and conduct of war in Iranian-Shi‘i culture. By examining primary and secondary sources, and investigating longer lasting factors and questions over circumstantial ones, Mohammed Jafar Amir Mahallati seeks to understand modern Iranian responses to war and peace. His work is the first in its field to look into the ethics of war and peace in Iran and Shi’i Islam. It provides a prism through which the binary source of the Iranian national and religious identity informs Iranian response to modernity. By doing so, the author reveals that a syncretic and civilization-conscious soul in modern Iran is re-emerging.
Next month, Edinburgh University Press releases Reclaiming Islamic Tradition: Modern Interpretations of the Classical Heritage, edited by Elisabeth Kendall (Oxford) and Ahmad Khan (Oxford). The publisher’s description follows:
Recent events in the Islamic world have demonstrated the endurance, neglect and careful reshaping of the classical Islamic heritage. A range of modern Islamic movements and intellectuals has sought to reclaim certain concepts, ideas, persons and trends from the Islamic tradition. This book profiles some of the fundamental debates that have defined the conversation between the past and the present in the Islamic world. Qur’anic exegesis, Islamic law, gender, violence and eschatology are just some of the key themes in this study of the Islamic tradition’s vitality in the modern Islamic world. This book will allow readers to situate modern developments in the Islamic world within the longue durée of Islamic history and thought.
This month, St. Martin’s Press releases “Islamic Exceptionalism: How the Struggle Over Islam Is Reshaping the World,” by Shadi Hamid (Brookings Institution). The publisher’s description follows:
In Islamic Exceptionalism, Brookings Institution scholar and acclaimed author Shadi Hamid offers a novel and provocative argument on how Islam is, in fact, “exceptional” in how it relates to politics, with profound implications for how we understand the future of the Middle East. Divides among citizens aren’t just about power but are products of fundamental disagreements over the very nature and purpose of the modern nation state—and the vexing problem of religion’s role in public life. Hamid argues for a new understanding of how Islam and Islamism shape politics by examining different models of reckoning with the problem of religion and state, including the terrifying—and alarmingly successful—example of ISIS.
With unprecedented access to Islamist activists and leaders across the region, Hamid offers a panoramic and ambitious interpretation of the region’s descent into violence. Islamic Exceptionalism is a vital contribution to our understanding of Islam’s past and present, and its outsized role in modern politics. We don’t have to like it, but we have to understand it—because Islam, as a religion and as an idea, will continue to be a force that shapes not just the region, but the West as well in the decades to come.
In July, the Georgetown University Press will release “Qatar: A Modern History,” by Allen J. Fromherz (Georgia State University). The publisher’s description follows:
What role does Qatar play in the Middle East and how does it differ from the other Gulf states? How has the ruling Al-Thani family shaped Qatar from a traditional tribal society and British protectorate to a modern state? How has Qatar become an economic superpower with one of the highest per capita incomes in the world? What are the social, political, and economic consequences of Qatar’s extremely rapid development?
In this groundbreaking history of modern Qatar, Allen J. Fromherz presents a full portrait that analyzes Qatar’s crucial role in the Middle East and its growing regional influence within a broader historical context. Drawing on original sources in Arabic, English, and French as well as his own fieldwork in the Middle East, the author deftly traces the influence of the Ottoman and British empires and Qatar’s Gulf neighbors on the country prior to Qatar’s meteoric rise in the post-independence era.
Fromherz gives particular weight to the nation’s economic and social history, from its modest origins in the pearling and fishing industries to the considerable economic clout it exerts today, a clout that comes with having the second-highest natural gas Continue reading