Revolutionary Afterlives

Instead of approaching the decade since the start of the Arab uprisings as an appraisal of an outcome, MERIP’s issue 301 reflects on an unfolding set of political struggles that are necessarily incomplete and spill across different scales – local, national, regional and global. “Revolutionary Afterlives” takes stock of lessons learned and unlearned. It considers hopes, dislocations and counterrevolutionary coalitions that speak as much to the power of revolutionary coalitions as to their shortfalls. The issue brings together analysts, revolutionaries, activists and cultural producers to reflect on how the protest movements and reactions to them have left a lasting imprint on the region and on the possibilities for solidarity.

Remembering Fifty Years of Community, Challenges and Change

“I was an unformed lefty before my MERIP days,” wrote Lisa Hajjar. “I credit MERIP with teaching and steeping me in real leftist politics.” I hope Lisa won’t be embarrassed if I call her the quintessential “MERIP baby,” a person who, having cut her teeth as an intern in the office, went on to become a formative influence on the organization herself through her writings and other contributions. While few can boast quite the length and variety of her tenure, she is far from alone. Lisa mentioned two others—Steve Niva and Mouin Rabbani, her fellow interns with whom she “plotted world domination” on cigarette breaks in the late 1980s.

MERIP’s Place in the Political and Media Landscape — An interview with Joe Stork and Chris Toensing

Joe Stork is one of the founders of MERIP and served as the editor of Middle East Report until 1995. He went on to be deputy director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa division. Chris Toensing was executive director of MERIP and editor of Middle East Report from 2000 to 2017 and since 2018 is a senior editor at the International Crisis Group. They were interviewed by Lisa Hajjar, professor of sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara and MERIP editorial committee member, in September 2021. 

Reflections on MERIP’s First 25 Years

I was among a small group of activists who started the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) in early 1971 and was chief editor of its monthly flagship publication, MERIP Reports (later Middle East Report) until 1995. Some of us had served in the Peace Corps or other volunteer organizations in the Middle East in the mid 1960s and had come together as an informal “Middle East caucus” in the Committee of Returned Volunteers, an anti-Vietnam War group.

The Life and Times of Al Miskin

It may come as a surprise to some readers of Middle East Report that, long ago, when it was exclusively a print publication, the magazine featured a more or less regular column devoted to an eclectic mixture of media criticism, exposé and humor. (Other columns...

It Was Beirut, All Over Again…Again

One night in August 2021, I fell through a portal. It was hot, and there was no electricity. I had already missed the de facto bedtime of 1am set by our generator’s regimen. My portable fluorescent lantern was fully charged. The stale, heavy air of a cooled-down,...

Putting Workers on the Map

When the first issue of MERIP Reports was published in May 1971, discussions of labor relations and workers were common in the New Left circles from which its editors emerged but were nearly invisible in debates about the Middle East and North Africa among American...

The Enduring Question of Palestine

The guiding mission of MERIP’s founders was not centered around cultivating a better understanding of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Rather, their magazine consciously emphasized the range and diversity of progressive and revolutionary struggles...

MERIP’s Unfinished Mission

The Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) was established in 1971 by young anti-war activists who sought to push the New Left to engage with the region through the same analytical lenses that it used to challenge US policy in Southeast Asia and Latin America. In this issue, we look back to reflect on MERIP’s 50-year history of speaking truth to power and evaluate its continuing legacy. We are proud that a scrappy monthly newsletter written by and for activists not only endured, but evolved into Middle East Report, a unique source of news and analysis that features essays informed by rigorous scholarship and detailed field research while remaining committed to a progressive political mission.

The Politics of Commemorating the Abolition of Slavery in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia

In 2019, eight years after the Arab Spring uprisings, President Béji Caïd Essebsi declared that Tunisians would commemorate the abolition of slavery on January 23 each year. It was on this date in 1846 that the then-governor of Ottoman Tunisia, Ahmad Bey, signed a decree authorizing enslaved Black people to request manumission certificates. Dating back to the medieval period, this region—like other parts of the Mediterranean and the Muslim world—had relied on the work of African as well as European enslaved men and women.

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