Settler Colonialism’s Enduring Entanglements
The spring 2022 issue of Middle East Report, “Settler Colonialism’s Enduring Entanglements,” brings together a wide range of geographic and disciplinary perspectives on settler colonialism from the Middle East, North Africa and the metropole. While there is a rich literature about the two most well-known instances of settler colonialism in the region, French Algeria and Israel and Palestine, these cases have been surprisingly peripheral to the field of settler colonial studies as well as to broader definitions of settler colonialism and understandings of how its legacies shape politics and social life today. With the goal of expanding the geographic scope of analysis, we explore these and other, lesser-known sites of settler colonialism in the region. We recognize from the outset that settler colonialism is an inherently messy thing to pin down. It is both a process and a concept. In practice, settler colonialism often operates in conjunction with other processes that can effectively mask it, such as nationalism, Indigeneity and sovereignty, to name a few. Authors in this issue also examine the contested meanings and understandings of decolonization in different contexts. We seek to pull apart some of these entanglements and to illuminate the long past of settler colonialism in the Middle East, the ways it shapes the present and continues into the future.
Issue Editors: Mona Atia, Graham Cornwell and Muriam Haleh Davis with Guest Editor Shira Robinson
With Lebanon’s crumbling power sector in crisis and unable to meet even a fraction of demand, the government and reformers offer competing visions for how to fix it. Zachary Davis Cuyler delves into the country’s currently dire financial and energy situation, the proposed solutions and their implications for the ruling elite and the increasingly impoverished Lebanese people.
The Club (Kulüp), produced by Netflix, is set in the mid-1950s among the cast, crew and management of a trendy nightclub in the Beyoğlu district of Istanbul. In addition to the use of Ladino, the language of Turkey’s Jewish population, the show uniquely represents Istanbul’s minority populations, their contributions to cultural life and their experiences of persecution. James Ryan elucidates these unusual characteristics that distinguish the show from a typical Turkish soap opera and provides fascinating context to its real-life historical elements.
Genocide, Historical Amnesia and Italian Settler Colonialism in Libya—An Interview with Ali Abdullatif Ahmida
In the late 1920s, the Italian fascist regime implemented a campaign of ethnic cleansing in eastern Libya to create more land for Italian settlers and quell armed resistance to colonization. Ali Abdullatif Ahmida’s new book, Genocide in Libya: Shar, a Hidden Colonial History, examines this forgotten case of settler-colonial violence. Jacob Mundy talks to Ahmida about the genocide, the kind of research methods he had to develop to uncover this history and its present-day relevance.
Although settler colonies are often depicted as unique and distinctive, Muriam Haleh Davis argues that analyzing settler colonialism in a global framework reveals their multiple commonalities. Here she examines the large-scale production of citrus in Algeria, Israel and California as one fascinating example of the myriad links—both economic and ideological—that bound different settler-colonial projects. Davis also explores the serious ramifications for historical memory and contemporary politics of viewing these projects as exceptional.
With the French presidential election currently underway, Olivia C. Harrison’s timely intervention explains the central role that the history and memory of French Algeria continue to play in the country’s politics, culture and society. She shows how the perverse calls by nativist and right-wing groups for the “decolonization of France” and the repatriation of immigrants have been shaped by the experience of settler colonialism and the Algerian War of Independence, with repercussions that go beyond France.
Curtis Ryan interviews the award-winning Jordanian writer Hisham Bustani about his innovative literary works in multiple genres, the art of translation, government censorship and his political activism. This wide-ranging discussion provides an illuminating view into Bustani’s creative processes as well as insights into activism and identity in Jordan.
One of MERIP’s signature issues over the years has been the question of Palestine and the Arab-Israeli conflict—partly because of its intrinsic interest but largely because so much myth and cant clouds the mainstream media coverage of this subject that independent analysis is particularly necessary. This primer by Joel Beinin and Lisa Hajjar is a good place to start in understanding what is at stake as events unfold.
(Photo of Israeli separation barrier by Alfonso Moral.)