Health & the Body Politic
Health and health care have become increasingly ungoverned over the past few decades, in tandem with a broader breakdown of the body politic. Health care workers are finding it increasingly difficult to work in settings of violent conflict and insecurity, rapidly declining health care systems, pervasive corruption and widespread economic mismanagement—all amidst the waning capacity of states to improve the health and wellbeing of their populace. While the Middle East region trains a lot of doctors, few end up staying. The winter issue of Middle East Report explores the interactions of the body politic with health and medicine and examines the entanglements of physical bodies in the institutional and political processes that govern them. The articles in this issue explore a range of different landscapes and ecologies of politics and health care, bringing the questions and problems of health and illness into the analysis of geopolitics and political economy.
Issue Editors: Nabil Al-Tikriti, Kevan Harris and Graham Cornwell with Guest Editor Omar Dewachi
The North African nation of Mauritania may be peripheral in global affairs, but its robust network of Islamic scholars is central to transnational Islamic movements and ideas. Zekeria Ould Ahmed Salem traces the influential political economy of Mauritanian Islamic scholarship that has both bolstered and opposed fundamentalist networks. As Mauritania remains deeply stratified along racial, caste-like and gender lines, its internal hierarchies shape how it impacts global Islamic thought. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Morocco’s massive Noor solar energy project is not only generating electricity. Based on her fieldwork and interviews, Zakia Salime explains how the extraction of land, labor and water by the Moroccan Agency for Sustainable Energy is intertwined with development programs, farming initiatives and job expectations that are shaping quotidian life and gender relations in the surrounding villages. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Inequality between rural and urban areas of Morocco has been deeply entrenched since the colonial era. But recent government public policies that ostensibly seek to reduce disparities are in fact further marginalizing already impoverished communities. Atia and Samlali’s research reveals what is going wrong and why residents believe that the only way to get essential infrastructure like roads and schools is to protest. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Marginalized populations in Tunisia, who have little access to economic and political resources, sparked the 2011 protests that ousted the Ben Ali regime. In the following ten years, marginalized people, especially in rural areas, have continued to push for more jobs, better services and social justice. Sami Zemni examines the long-term processes and dynamics of marginalization in Tunisia and shows how the struggle against it is changing the country’s politics. Forthcoming in MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
With the increasing presence of sub-Saharan African migrants in North Africa over the past decade, public discussions of race and prejudice are losing their taboo. Moroccan writers are encouraging a broader awareness of structural racism by including more Black characters in their novels and by depicting them as complex individuals struggling against inequality. This article is from the forthcoming MER issue 298 “Maghreb From the Margins.”
The Syrian poet Osama Esber presents three new poems that grapple with the reverberations of living through the current global pandemic. Written in Arabic, they are accompanied by Lisa Wedeen’s English translation and introduction.
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.)