Publications by Faculty & Alumni

2022
Bordewich, Chloe La Verne. “Leaking Empires: The Struggle over Information in the Eastern Mediterranean, 1870–1952.” History and MES, 2022. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This is a history of information and its control as a political battleground. Beginning in the mid-nineteenth century, the explosion of mass media and communications connected people across much of the world and made it possible to transmit more information across longer distances than ever before. But in many places, the same period witnessed the reimagining and retrenchment of official secrecy. This dissertation investigates this apparent paradox from the vantage point of Egypt. With the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, Egypt lay at the center of global networks of trade, transport, and technology. Coveting an empire of its own in East Africa, it was enmeshed in the Ottoman Empire and, after 1882, in the British Empire, too. Between the 1870s and the 1950s, a series of challenges to imperial governance, each tied to war or its specter, brought a pair of contentious questions into focus: What did the public have the right to know? And what was the state entitled to conceal?

When the nineteenth century began, states did not share basic details of how they functioned, such as the scale of debts and revenue, or the size of their armies, with people outside government. By the century’s end, a vocal “public” was demanding to know more. In Egypt, a conception of information about the state as a public good—about a public “right to know”—crystallized in the last quarter of the nineteenth century. This was due to the confluence of three main factors. First, and most important, was a political environment riddled with frictions due to Britain’s semi-colonial rule, which foreclosed Egypt’s own imperial project and independence. The second was the widespread use of telegraphy, a technology on which the state relied heavily but did not fully control. The third was the expansion of the Arabic press, which attracted dissidents from across the Ottoman and Mediterranean worlds to Egypt and gave public demands a prominent platform.

Demand for more information about affairs of state provoked a backlash with long-lasting consequences. At first, authorities were ill-prepared to provide a rationale for secrecy. This changed in the decade before World War I, when high-profile assassinations prompted them to link the circulation of information to political violence. A corresponding shift from policing deeds to policing ideas took tighter hold amid the nationalist revolution of 1919, as colonial officials feared collusion between their Egyptian colleagues and a wider hostile society. When British officials began a gradual retreat following Egypt’s nominal independence in 1922, the compartmentalization of information within organs of state entrenched a renewed culture of concealment. In 1948, the Arab defeat in Palestine drew scrutiny to the secrets and silences this climate had nourished, and popular anger at the absence of information that convincingly explained the loss contributed to the ouster of the Egyptian monarchy in 1952. Yet rather than leading to a new era of trust and transparency, the narrative that emerged in the gap between the propaganda people were fed and what they believed to be true was seized on by the military regime that took its place and helped to sustain it in power.

2021
Kahlenberg, Caroline. “How Locals Became Settlers: Mizrahi Jews and Bodily Capital in Palestine, 1908-1948.” History and MES, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation explores early twentieth-century Palestine through the lens of bodies and material culture. While histories of modern Palestine often treat “Jews” and “Arabs” as naturally distinct categories, I examine how these categories were constructed as racialized, embodied, and opposing identities. At a time when Palestine witnessed major changes— including the transition from Ottoman to British rule, mass Zionist settlement, shifting labor patterns, and the rise of Palestinian nationalism—residents made sense of their identities by spreading ideas about whose bodies were like, or unlike, their own. This dissertation focuses on Sephardi and Mizrahi (Eastern) Jews, many of whom lived in Palestine prior to modern Zionist settlement, which offers a unique lens to explore the process of Arab-Jewish boundary-making. At the turn of the twentieth century, Mizrahi Jewish bodies were not always clearly marked as exclusively “Jewish” or “Arab.” Their clothing, accents, and cultural tastes were often indistinguishable from those of their Muslim and Christian neighbors in Palestine. However, the growing colonial-national conflict in the 1920s and 1930s forced Mizrahi Jews to confront their position vis-à-vis Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. They adopted several strategies in light of this new reality. Many abandoned “Arab” clothing and accents in order to assimilate into the Ashkenazi-dominated Jewish community (Yishuv). In doing so, they helped produce a visual and sonic Arab-Jewish division on the ground. Others challenged the emerging divide by refusing to change their bodies. They expressed pride in their cultural and linguistic heritage in the Islamic world. Yet others selectively employed their “Oriental” bodies as a way to assert Zionist belonging and nativeness in Palestine.

This dissertation makes three broader contributions. First, using photographs, oral histories, material culture, and written sources, it illuminates how clothing, sounds, sexuality, and age become racialized in circumstances of colonial-national conflict. Second, while scholars often point to one “year zero” of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict based on the founding of a political movement, the outbreak of ethnic violence, or the publication of a specific document, I demonstrate that building a Jewish-Arab division demanded the constant policing of how individuals looked and sounded. Finally, the dissertation’s focus on Mizrahi Jews pushes scholars of settler colonialism to think beyond a local-versus-settler paradigm. Many Mizrahi Jews in Palestine were locals who also became part of a settler movement; they were, as I term them, “local settlers.” The story of this dissertation, then, is the story of how the locals became settlers.

Tschoepe, Aylin Yildirim. “Brave New Turkey: Contesting the Production and Valuation of Bodies, Urban Space, and Ecology.” Archaeology and MES, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this ethnography, I examine fragmented urban and social dynamics in Istanbul, Turkey. The issues of the country are mirrored and coalesced into these dynamics. Binaries of proper/valuable versus improper/abjected city and citizens emerge from a “New Turkey” politics. This creates hierarchies of bodies, urban spaces, ecological practices, and types of knowledge. Rooted in historical de/valuation processes, Turkey’s current technologies of power intensify and gain new momentum and scale. Lawfare, identity politics, urban planning, and technocratic ecological strategies are instrumental in implementing interdependent urban and social transformation. Drawing on two years of fieldwork, I analyze the contestation of governmental actors, local authorities, environmental activists, local residents, and garbage workers over the production and valuation of bodies, space, and ecology. From this, I address the broader picture of classist, gendered, ethnic, and racist discrimination as a process that most evidently manifests itself in urban space.

The socio-spatial impact of a “New Turkey” is most starkly felt among the urban poor whose livelihood depends on environmental practices. Here, I focus on a specific group that is invisible for many: non-municipal garbage workers who are targets of intersectional devaluation. Through green(wash)ing strategies, their homes are displaced by “healthy and sustainable” luxury housing projects and infrastructure. They are treated as second-class citizens and, therefore, socially and economically immobilized. At the same time, they contest the authorities over garbage as a commodity, and the law criminalizes their recycling practices. Conflict and resistance occur not only between actors but also within institutions, activist movements, and affected communities. As various players share risks, new—and sometimes unexpected—alliances are formed under the common goals of social and environmental justice and rights to the city. The ambiguity of all of this is reflected in the title: “BRAVE NEW TURKEY.” On the one hand it speaks to the forging of the current hegemonic Turkishness and Turkish urban landscape under the banner of the “New Turkey” politics. On the other hand a “brave new Turkey” addresses the creative conflict and resistance against this dystopian moment of governing bodies, urban space, and ecology. Indeed, this research deals with the continuous efforts of various groups who claim their place in their “new Turkey.” Under the current political and social circumstances, I consider this an act of bravery. After all, a new Turkey belongs not only to the hegemonically powerful but also to those who shape the country’s future through their creative struggle for diversity and inclusion.

Ibn Hamdis the Sicilian: Eulogist for a Falling Homeland
Granara, William. Ibn Hamdis the Sicilian: Eulogist for a Falling Homeland. Oneworld Publications, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

‘Abd al-Jabbar ibn Hamdis (1055-1133) survives as the best-known figure from four centuries of Arab-Islamic civilisation on the island of Sicily. There he grew up in a society enriched by a century of cultural development but whose unity was threatened by competing warlords. After the Normans invaded, he followed many other Muslims in emigrating, first to North Africa and then to Seville, where he began his career as a court poet.

Although he achieved fame and success in his time, Ibn Hamdis was forced to bear witness to sectarian strife among the Muslims of both Sicily and Spain, and the gradual success of the Christian reconquest, including the decline of his beloved homeland. Through his verse, William Granara examines his life and times.

Those Infidel Greeks: The Greek War of Independence through Ottoman Archival Documents
Ilıcak, H. Şükrü, ed. Those Infidel Greeks: The Greek War of Independence through Ottoman Archival Documents. Brill, 2021. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The documents edited by H. Şükrü Ilıcak in Those Indel Greeks comprise the English translations of select documents from the Ayniyat Registers on the Greek War of Independence preserved in the Ottoman State Archives. The primary importance of these documents is that they are a clear testimony of the larger imperial context in which the Greek War of Independence evolved and proved successful. The mass of information they contain is immense and allows the reader to follow on an almost day-to-day basis how an empire tried to suppress a national uprising—the rst of its kind in the early nineteenth century.

Contributors: Çağrı Erdoğan, H. Şükrü Ilıcak, Nikola Rakovski, Mehmet Savan, Kahraman Şakul, and Aysel Yıldız.

This is a co-publication with the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation.

Al-Rifay, Mouhanad. “Scattered Images: The Perpetual Destabilization of Family in Pursuit of Political Dominance (Palestine 1948–Syria 1980).” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2021.
Murphy, John Paul (Jack). “Earthquakes and Epidemics: The Impact of Natural Disasters on the ʿAbbāsid Revolution.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2021.
2020
The Thousand and One Nights: Sources and Transformations in Literature, Art, and Science
Granara, William, and Ibrahim Akel, ed. The Thousand and One Nights: Sources and Transformations in Literature, Art, and Science. Brill, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Thousand and One Nights does not fall into a scholarly canon or into the category of popular literature. It takes its place within a middle literature that circulated widely in medieval times. The Nights gradually entered world literature through the great novels of the day and through music, cinema and other art forms. Material inspired by the Nights has continued to emerge from many different countries, periods, disciplines and languages, and the scope of the Nights has continued to widen, making the collection a universal work from every point of view. The essays in this volume scrutinize the expanse of sources for this monumental work of Arabic literature and follow the trajectory of the Nights’ texts, the creative, scholarly commentaries, artistic encounters and relations to science.

Contributors: Ibrahim Akel, Rasoul Aliakbari, Daniel Behar, Aboubakr Chraïbi, Anne E. Duggan, William Granara, Rafika Hammoudi, Dominique Jullien, Abdelfattah Kilito, Magdalena Kubarek, Michael James Lundell, Ulrich Marzolph, Adam Mestyan, Eyüp Özveren, Marina Paino, Daniela Potenza, Arafat Abdur Razzaque, Ahmed Saidy, Johannes Thomann and Ilaria Vitali.

Collaço, Gwendolyn. “The Image as Commodity: The Commercial Market for Single-Folio Paintings in Ottoman Istanbul, 17th–18th C.History of Art and Architecture and MES, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the Ottoman capital of Istanbul, for most of the sixteenth century, only royalty and close companions of the sultan enjoyed the experience of perusing an album, the premier form of preserving and viewing single-folio works on paper. Yet in the last few decades of the century, the first surviving cases of commercial albums reveal that the practice had moved beyond the palace, attracting both wealthy Ottoman urbanites and European travelers alike. This dissertation delves into the history of the art market from the production to the consumption of loose-leaf paintings in numerous compilation formats. Although scholarship on Istanbul’s early modern art market and single-folio paintings has often centered on analyses of individual manuscripts, such as costume albums, this study aims to contextualize these single-folio paintings as part of a wider network of urban production. In this network, models and designs circulated between artists of numerous social groups and specialties, as well as through foreign import. The study further refocuses attention on codicology in order to illustrate how the trappings of a collection could profoundly impact the reception of the works within it and reveal precious detail about the backgrounds of the owners, many of whom remain anonymous today.
The dissertation begins by setting the stage for the emergence of the market for single-folio paintings by analyzing the antecedents to the commercial album through Ottoman court albums, portraits, and the works of unofficial court artists who lived in the city. It then turns to European genres such as costume books and alba amicorum (friendship albums), before turning to the first commercial album, which fuses features from the aforementioned areas. Chapter Two assesses production techniques, emphasizing the mobility of model forms, before turning to artists’ multi-professional backgrounds. The next two chapters delve into the collecting practices of the two main consumer groups. Chapter Three follows the development of costume albums primarily collected by European travelers over the seventeenth century as objects of novelty crafted from a commonplace corpus of models. It tracks the expansion of the model corpus, shifts in binding and mounting practices, and the relationships between albums (as well as their identified forgeries).

Chapter Four offers a history of compilation among urbanite Ottomans of a literati persuasion over the seventeenth century as a story of taste-making on the page. As the practice grew, artists began offering a wider range of works to suit multiple price points of paintings and bindings among their consumers. Chapter Five continues to follow Ottoman compilers into the eighteenth century after the court’s return to Istanbul in 1703, which coincided with a significant increase in album-making. This period brought about the rise of specialized painting collections. The market also began to engage with its past as later commercial albums provided a wider chronological range of paintings from numerous traditions, which included refurbished and creatively over-painted works. Rather than Westernization, these albums indicate a global outlook that reflected mercantile networks of the time. The last two chapters delve into the case of an unstudied trilogy of albums at the Bibliothèque Nationale de France that exemplifies these later trends. Together, they offer a hypothesis for the background of the owner while situating the albums in the local and transregional contexts that created this cosmopolitan work.

Razzaque, Arafat Abdur. “The Sin of Ghība in Early Islamic Thought: Disciplining the Tongue in the Zuhd Tradition and Its Late Antique Background.” History and MES, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation explores the form, substance and social context of pious exhortations in medieval Islamic history, focusing on ideas about gossip and slander. It is a study on a single concept of enduring significance in Islamic ethics, the notion of ghība or backbiting, defined as unwelcome statements of fact as opposed to false slander (buhtān). Prohibited by the Qurʾān, the mundane social vice of speaking ill about other people in their absence was a source of great moral concern, with ramifications in discourses of piety, religious ethics, ritual law, and eschatology. Early proponents of the isnād method for the authentication of ḥadīth had to frequently address the ethical quandary that their criticism of transmitters might be tantamount to sinful gossip. I demonstrate that the discourse on ghība stems from a broader ethics of “disciplining the tongue” among the early Muslim renunciants of the so-called zuhd movement. A major work by the Baghdadi scholar Ibn Abī l-Dunyā (d. 281 AH/894 CE), the Kitāb al-Ṣamt wa-ādāb al-lisān or “Book of Silence and Etiquettes of the Tongue” serves as a key point of departure for this study. I examine the traditions, stories and wise maxims on ghība in the context of zuhd, ḥadīth, tafsīr and fiqh sources, as well as their broader reception in pious ethics literature of the ninth and tenth centuries CE. Through close attention to motifs, I argue further that some early Muslim ideas about gossip and slander reflect older traditions of religious thought in late antiquity. The commonalities are evident especially in the Apophthegmata Patrum or Sayings of the Desert Fathers. Resonances can be traced as well through eschatological motifs common to Jewish, Christian and Zoroastrian apocalyptic literature and Islamic imaginations of hell, in which the sin of backbiting is met with severe punishments. In contrast to conventional ancient punishment motifs for slander, Islamic eschatology introduces new types of scenes informed by the Qurʾānic metaphor of ghība as eating the flesh of another. Early Muslim ethical discourses thus interpreted a universal moral concern through a combination of inherited traditions and original elements.

Schwerda, Mira Xenia. “How Photography Changed Politics: The Case of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution (1905-1911).” History of Art and Architecture and MES, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

My dissertation reconceptualizes the Iranian Constitutional period (1905-1911) as an era of spectacle, in which photography played a central role in defining, mobilizing, and memorializing political movements and their leaders. The first chapter of my dissertation traces the role and impact of one specific photograph: a portrait of Joseph Naus, the Belgian head of the Iranian tax and customs systems, in the costume of an Iranian mullah. The circulation of the photograph, which had been reproduced as a postcard with a caption that purposefully misinterpreted the image, sparked a nationwide protest and turned the previously economic protest into a religiously legitimated one. The photograph became the basis for a fatwa and death threats to Naus. The second chapter discusses photographs of political protest. It focuses on a key event of the Constitutional Revolution, a several weeks-long sit-in during the summer of 1906 in the gardens of the British Legation in Tehran. In my research, I was able to prove that the so far unattributed series of photographs of this event was taken by the well-known photographer Antoin Sevruguin. The third chapter focuses on political portrait photographs from the second half of the Iranian Constitutional Revolution, which was characterized by revolutionary and counter-revolutionary violence. I analyze portraits of Iranian assassins and their victims and show how these acts of violence were influenced by global political movements and international media coverage. The epilogue of my dissertation focuses on the events directly following the Constitutional Revolution, when the Russian army invaded Tabriz and executed the remaining revolutionaries. I discuss the photographic documentation of the events, the circulation of the images, and their changing interpretations.

Winter, Meredyth Lynn. “Silks Withdrawn: A Re-Contextualization of the Medieval Fragments from Rayy.” History of Art and Architecture and MES, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The corpus of silks recovered from the medieval tombs of Rayy, which lies to the South of modern-day Tehran in Iran, date from the late tenth to the early thirteenth centuries. Their span corresponds to a period of time referred to here as “late Abbasid” (ca. 950-1250), in which the hegemony of the Abbasid dynasty (r. 750-1258) had faded, giving way to a soft power propped up by a series of vassal sovereigns—principally, the Buyids (r. 945-1030), the Ghaznavids (r.1030-1032, Iran), and the Seljuks (r. 1032-1250, Iran). While the tombs can be attributed to the early decades of Seljuk reign in the mid-eleventh century, the textiles included in the graves were woven both before and after the monuments’ construction. As a result, the finds at Rayy offer a unique opportunity to observe, within a fixed frame of context, how artistic forms were maintained, and their meanings slowly altered over this tumultuous period. By analyzing the textiles according to art historical and material culture methods, the dissertation argues that the Rayy textiles reveal the ambivalent identities and evolving ambitions of the successive dynasties that made use of them. They show, at once, a conscientious upholding of the caliphal norms and ceremonials required of dynastic elites, as well as a concerted manipulation of those rules aimed at projecting kingship amid the changing realities of the Abbasid empire. To highlight the fundamental cross-purposes these textiles served, the dissertation divides them into three, seemingly straightforward categories: textiles of the public sphere, the private sphere, and the funerary sphere. These spheres conform to the ideals of Abbasid ceremonial and decorum and serve as an opportunity to question how principles of proper conduct were enacted aesthetically. At the same time, the spheres reveal the limitations faced by dynastic rulers and their elite circles, as well as how they responded by pushing the boundaries of each category. The duality of each sphere demonstrates how the textiles from Rayy were integral in the self-fashioning that allowed the vassal kings to nominally uphold the Abbasid order, while simultaneously carving out a place for their own modes of sovereignty, worship, and commemoration. Although textile finds rumored to come from Rayy have been studied since their initial “discovery” by dealers in early 1925, forgeries made in the 1930s and thereafter have forced scholarship to deal almost exclusively with modern questions of authenticity. The origins, debates, and outcomes of the so-called “Buyid Silk Controversy” receive further elucidation here. It is, however, principally the question of medieval authenticity which lies at the center of this study. That is to say, textiles were often a medium of display and luxury; as such, they provide a means of understanding how authenticity—be it a marker of public position, self image, or faith—was enacted visually and materially in the late Abbasid period. The Rayy corpus offers a crucial glimpse of these processes, as late Abbasid artistic products rarely have clear dates or places of manufacture, let alone provenances. As such, the dissertation takes a hermeneutic look at this corpus, deriving evidence from their formal, technical, and material analysis, in order to elucidate the contrived continuity of self-fashioning in the late Abbasid period, as well as the nuanced variations compelled by each successive ruling dynasty as they adapted Abbasid ceremonial to their own aspirations.

Yerlioğlu, Akif Ercihan. “Paracelsus Goes East: Ottoman 'New Medicine' and Its Afterlife.” History and MES, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation investigates how early modern Ottoman medical scholars viewed the concept of novelty and how it manifested itself in the socio-political domain. Appearing in the mid-seventeenth century and maintaining its substantial impact throughout the eighteenth century, ṭıbb-ı cedīd (new medicine) became a very significant concept and practice that almost all the prominent scholars of the era explored. This was the first time that discussions regarding the utilization of al/chemical ideas and practices in medical philosophy and pharmacology were introduced into the medical scholarship via a group of Ottoman scholars. In previous scholarship, this era has either been portrayed as a “transitional” period, which represented the abandonment of the “traditional medicine” for adoption of European medicine, or as a time when intriguing works were produced without yielding any substantial novelties in medical practice.

Primarily by undertaking a close reading of the representative texts of the ṭıbb-ı cedīd corpus, this study demonstrates the complex interactions between the various epistemological approaches available to the Ottoman physicians as they produced the medical corpus of a new era. This study shows that the eighteenth-century scholars never disowned their Galenic heritage completely, while embracing new al/ chemical ideas. Moreover, they did not accomplish their intellectual endeavors as part of a state-sponsored Europeanization/Westernization project. This emerging corpus created fertile ground for lively discussions in Ottoman medical scholarship, which went hand in hand with the application of new curative substances, imported from various parts of the world, including, but not exclusive to the Americas. I approach these moments of critical translation and adaptation from lived aspects of medical practice, which are overlooked in current scholarship in the history of medicine that has restricted the material to the intertextual domain of books and ideas. Furthermore, this study, regards the physician as one among the artisans of the marketplace, which brings to light how their practice and profession were negotiated with the Ottoman State during the eighteenth century. Last but not least, I look at the nineteenth-century afterlife of ṭıbb-ı cedīd, when western-influenced reforms were taking place in every aspect of life and a new discourse on medicine and medical education were being introduced. I show that the Imperial Medical School (Mekteb-i Ṭıbbīyye-i Şāhāne) had an immense impact on the physicians of the era on their evaluation of their medical past, including ṭıbb-ı cedīd, and created a lineage of physician-historians who produced modernist-positivistic historiographies, which still influences medical history-writing today, especially in Turkish scholarship.

Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings
Alimagham, Pouya. Contesting the Iranian Revolution: The Green Uprisings. Cambridge University Press, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Most observers of Iran viewed the Green Uprisings of 2009 as a 'failed revolution', with many Iranians and those in neighbouring Arab countries agreeing. In Contesting the Iranian Revolution, however, Pouya Alimagham re-examines this evaluation, deconstructing the conventional win-lose binary interpretations in a way which underscores the subtle but important victories on the ground, and reveals how Iran's modern history imbues those triumphs with consequential meaning. Focusing on the men and women who made this dynamic history, and who exist at the centre of these contentious politics, this 'history from below' brings to the fore the post-Islamist discursive assault on the government's symbols of legitimation. From powerful symbols rooted in Shiʿite Islam, Palestinian liberation, and the Iranian Revolution, Alimagham harnesses the wider history of Iran and the Middle East to highlight how activists contested the Islamic Republic's legitimacy to its very core.

Clager, Hannah M.The 'Houthification' of Education in Yemen: A Revival of Pedagogical Battlegrounds?Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2020.
Ellis, Eleanor Takenaka. “The Afterlives of Aftershocks: Collective Memory and the 1992 Cairo Earthquake.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2020.
Khoury, Maria. “Ghosts and Parallel Times: The Haunting of Palestinian Citizens of Israel.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2020.
Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader
Penslar, Derek. Theodor Herzl: The Charismatic Leader. Yale University Press, 2020. Publisher's VersionAbstract

From the prizewinning Jewish Lives series, a masterful new biography of Theodor Herzl by an eminent historian of Zionism.

The life of Theodor Herzl (1860–1904) was as puzzling as it was brief. How did this cosmopolitan and assimilated European Jew become the leader of the Zionist movement? How could he be both an artist and a statesman, a rationalist and an aesthete, a stern moralist yet possessed of deep, and at times dark, passions? And why did scores of thousands of Jews, many of them from traditional, observant backgrounds, embrace Herzl as their leader?

Drawing on a vast body of Herzl’s personal, literary, and political writings, historian Derek Penslar shows that Herzl’s path to Zionism had as much to do with personal crises as it did with antisemitism. Once Herzl devoted himself to Zionism, Penslar shows, he distinguished himself as a consummate leader—possessed of indefatigable energy, organizational ability, and electrifying charisma. Herzl became a screen onto which Jews of his era could project their deepest needs and longings.

2019
Lebanon: The Rise and Fall of a Secular State under Siege
Farha, Mark. Lebanon: The Rise and Fall of a Secular State under Siege. Cambridge University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Why has secularism faced such challenges in the Middle East and in Lebanon in particular? In light of dominating headlines about the spread of sectarianism and the so-called death of Arab secularism, Mark Farha addresses the need for a thorough examination of the history of secular thought and practice in the region. By offering a comprehensive, systematic account of the underlying ideological, socio-economic, and political factors involved, Farha provides a new understanding of the historical roots of secularism as well as the potential causes for the continued resistance a fully deconfessionalized state faces both in Lebanon and in the region at large. Drawing on a vast corpus of primary and secondary sources to examine the varying political parties and ideologies involved, this book provides a fresh approach to the study of religion and politics in the Arab world and beyond.

  • Traces the concise lineage of the term and concept of secularism in Arab political discourse from its origins to present-day usage
  • Introduces a new framework for understanding the success or failure of the secular state in Lebanon and the wider Middle East
  • Includes Arabic sources, providing insights from a host of Arab and Lebanese secular voices
The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics, and Community
Karakaya-Stump, Ayfer. The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics, and Community. Edinburgh University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Explores the transformation of the Kizilbash from a radical religio-political movement to a religious order of closed communities.

  • The first comprehensive social history of the Kizilbash/Alevi communities
  • Combines conventional sources with newly discovered ones generated within the Kizilbash-Alevi milieu
  • Argues for a readjustment in focus from pre-Islamic Central Asia to the cosmopolitan Sufi milieu of the Middle East when exploring genealogies of popular Islam in Anatolia
  • Offers a critical assessment of the long-standing Köprülü paradigm in the field of religious and cultural history of Anatolia
  • Provides a new perspective on the Ottoman-Safavid conflict, and on Sunni-Shiʿi confessionalisation in the early modern period
  • Opens new avenues of research in the study of other ‘heterodox’ communities in the Islamic world

The Kizilbash were at once key players in and the foremost victims of the Ottoman-Safavid conflict that defined the early modern Middle East. Today referred to as Alevis, they constitute the second largest faith community in modern Turkey, with smaller pockets of related groups in the Balkans. Yet several aspects of their history remain little understood or explored. This first comprehensive socio-political history of the Kizilbash/Alevi communities uses a recently surfaced corpus of sources generated within their milieu. It offers fresh answers to many questions concerning their origins and evolution from a revolutionary movement to an inward-looking religious order.

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