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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
On July 24, 2020 the Turkish government opened Hagia Sophia in Istanbul to prayer for the first time in 86 years, reverting the building’s status from museum back to mosque. Blessing and Yaycıoğlu explain the politics behind this decision and explore the ramifications for Hagia Sophia and other monuments with similarly rich and multilayered histories.
MERIP’s coverage of the First Gulf War sought to understand the crisis beyond the battlefield kinetics: from Iraq’s August 1990 invasion of Kuwait to the US-led Desert Storm military operation liberating Kuwait and looking beyond to the regional aftermath. Our authors and editors offered historically-grounded analysis of the invasion, they measured the nascent waves of misery and violence that would radiate from it and offered clear-eyed commentary on the costs and risks.
President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s appointment of Melih Bulu as the new rector of Boğaziçi University on January 1, 2021 provoked outrage among students and faculty in Turkey. Alemdaroğlu and Babül explain the anger behind the continuing protests and how Boğaziçi’s struggle fits into a long history of government control over higher education as well as the ruling party’s desire to attain cultural hegemony by cultivating what Erdoğan calls pious, homegrown and national youth.
Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational. Forthcoming in MER 298, “Maghreb From the Margins.”