Understanding Race and Migrant Domestic Labor in Lebanon

The dire financial and political crises in Lebanon have made migrant domestic workers even more vulnerable to abuses of the kafala system of sponsorship. Kassamali explains the history of this labor system in Lebanon and the intersecting roles of race, class, nationality and gender in the hierarchies it produces.

Writing Ourselves into Existence with the Collective for Black Iranians

The groundbreaking work of the Collective for Black Iranians is the first and only effort of its kind in Iran that brings together the voices of Black and Afro-Iranians, sharing their stories and experiences to foster greater racial consciousness and combat the anti-Black racism endemic to the Iranian community. Beeta Baghoolizadeh interviewed a founding member of the Collective, Priscillia Kounkou Hoveyda, in April 2021.

Selling Normalization in the Gulf

Elham Fakhro 06.23.2021

When the UAE and Bahrain normalized their relations with Israel, the countries’ leaders justified their actions as beneficial to the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Elham Fakhro explains how this rationale quickly fell apart and shifted, revealing deeper economic and strategic goals. Fakhro also illuminates how the history of Gulf support for the Palestinians created a space for the diverse responses of civil society to the Abraham Accords.

Who is “Indian” in the Gulf? Race, Labor and Citizenship

How do race and racism operate in the Gulf? Neha Vora and Amélie Le Renard closely examine how the term “Indian,” as it is used in the United Arab Emirates, refers to much more than national origin. They trace the role of colonialism, capitalism and the state in creating “Indian” as a racialized category in contrast to an imagined pure Gulf Arab identity. Attempts to police the boundaries between citizens and non-citizens obscures the Gulf’s truly multicultural and multiracial history and present.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage of Iran and Its Elections

The Editors 06.16.2021

As Iran’s elections approach (June 18, 2021), MERIP revisits recent articles that provide a deeper context for understanding politics in Iran today. The pieces gathered here include a forum re-thinking US-Iranian relations as well as articles examining key elections in Iran over the last 20 years, from 2001 to 2021.

Coexistence, Sectarianism and Racism — An Interview with Ussama Makdisi

Alex Lubin 06.8.2021

Alex Lubin interviews Ussama Makdisi about his work on sectarianism and coexistence in the Middle East, the subject of his most recent book. Makdisi also addresses the role of race and colonialism and explains the importance of seeing these ideological formations in historical and geopolitical context. Forthcoming in the next issue of Middle East Report, “Race—Legacies and Challenges.”

Intellectual Traditions and the Academy in Turkey — An Interview with Evren Altınkaş

MERIP editors interview Evren Altınkaş, a Turkish scholar who was pushed out of his academic position by his university’s administration as a consequence of participating in the Gezi Park protests of 2013. Altınkaş discusses his work on the intellectual tradition in Turkey, the role of the ruling AKP party in society and the challenges he and other academics face.

Designing Nationhood in Turkey’s Universities

Begüm Adalet 06.2.2021

Begüm Adalet reviews Burak Erdim’s “Landed Internationals: Planning Cultures, the Academy, and the Making of the Modern Middle East.” As in past decades, universities in Turkey are venues of contestation between authority and resistance, with the government imposing its singular vision of a “pious, homegrown, national youth” on a diverse student body. Erdim’s book is the story of one such institution, the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, which was an iconic site of leftist student mobilization and anti-US protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Benefiting from the Misery of Others

Asher Orkaby 05.26.2021

Asher Orkaby examines the politics and unforeseen consequences of international aid in response to war and suffering in Yemen. He finds that much of the humanitarian aid actually exacerbates the war by fostering a lucrative wartime economy, disincentivizing peaceful resolutions and prolonging national dependence on foreign aid. Local civil society efforts try to promote self-sufficiency and repair the damage, but face many challenges.

The Fog of the Forever War with a Laugh Track in “United States of Al”

As President Joe Biden’s administration struggles to meet its self-imposed deadline of September 11, 2021 to withdraw US forces from Afghanistan, Hollywood is offering its own painless, bloodless version of an end to America’s longest war. In this review of the CBS sitcom “United States of Al,” the authors Wazhmah Osman, Helena Zeweri and Seelai Karzai critique the show’s representation of Afghans and the US war and explain why the show’s missteps matter.

Revisiting MERIP Coverage of Gaza, Jerusalem and the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

The Editors 05.20.2021

For more than 50 years, MERIP has provided a depth of analysis on Palestine and Palestinian politics that is unmatched. Here we dive into the archives to highlight both historical and recent MERIP articles that provide key context for the current crises in Gaza and Jerusalem as well as important background for understanding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Prince’s Speech and Activist Grievances in Jordan

On April 3, 2021, Prince Hamzeh bin Hussein of Jordan was confined by the Jordanian armed forces to his home and cut off from outside communication. While many observers speculate about palace politics, Matthew Lacouture delves into the significance of the prince’s statements decrying corruption and economic mismanagement. He shows how Hamzeh’s words echo the grievances of activists as he traces the evolving discourses of labor, youth and popular mobilizations across Jordan.

Political Assassinations and the Revolutionary Impasse in Lebanon and Iraq

In the midst of deepening political and economic crises, the recent assassinations of two intellectuals—Hisham al-Hashimi in Iraq and Lokman Slim in Lebanon—have shaken the popular protest movements that are pushing for fundamental change in both countries. Haugbolle and Andersen consider the consequences for those who challenge the status quo of government corruption and crumbling public services, both in the streets and through documentation and scholarship.

Cultural Heritage and the Politics of Sovereignty in Palestine

Elif Kalaycıoğlu reviews Chiara de Cesari’s book Heritage and the Cultural Struggle for Palestine, which explores the complex and shifting terrain of Palestinian heritage politics at work in both the Palestinian Authority and civil society organizations over time and under the conditions of settler colonialism.

Humanism in Ruins – An Interview with Aslı Iğsız

Aslı Iğsız discusses her book Humanism in Ruins, which examines the long-lasting impacts of the 1923 Greek-Turkish Population Exchange Agreement. Challenging the common portrayal of the population exchange agreement as a success story, she unveils how the discourses of liberal humanism and coexistence went hand in hand with a biopolitics of segregation. Her research also offers fresh insights into today’s discriminatory policies both on the national and international level.

The Importance of Mauritanian Scholars in Global Islam

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.”

Life in the Vicinity of Morocco’s Noor Solar Energy Project

Zakia Salime 04.6.2021

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.”

Government Efforts to Reduce Inequality in Morocco Are Only Making Matters Worse

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.”

Tunisia’s Marginalized Redefine the Political

Sami Zemni 03.16.2021

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.”

The Sub-Saharan African Turn in Moroccan Literature

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.”

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