Books by Alumni

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.

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.

The Anthropology of Islamic Law: Education, Ethics, and Legal Interpretation at Egypt's Al-Azhar
Nakissa, Aria. The Anthropology of Islamic Law: Education, Ethics, and Legal Interpretation at Egypt's Al-Azhar. Oxford University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

The Anthropology of Islamic Law shows how hermeneutic theory and practice theory can be brought together to analyze cultural, legal, and religious traditions. These ideas are developed through an analysis of the Islamic legal tradition, which examines both Islamic legal doctrine and religious education. The book combines anthropology and Islamist history, using ethnography and in-depth analysis of Arabic religious texts. The book focuses on higher religious learning in contemporary Egypt, examining its intellectual, ethical, and pedagogical dimensions. Data is drawn from fieldwork inside al-Azhar University, Cairo University's Dar al-Ulum, and the network of traditional study circles associated with the al-Azhar mosque. Together these sites constitute the most important venue for the transmission of religious learning in the contemporary Muslim world. The book gives special attention to contemporary Egypt, and also provides a broader analysis relevant to Islamic legal doctrine and religious education throughout history.

The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity
Li, Darryl. The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity. Stanford University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

No contemporary figure is more demonized than the Islamist foreign fighter who wages jihad around the world. Spreading violence, disregarding national borders, and rejecting secular norms, so-called jihadists seem opposed to universalism itself. In a radical departure from conventional wisdom on the topic, The Universal Enemy argues that transnational jihadists are engaged in their own form of universalism: these fighters struggle to realize an Islamist vision directed at all of humanity, transcending racial and cultural difference.

Anthropologist and attorney Darryl Li reconceptualizes jihad as armed transnational solidarity under conditions of American empire, revisiting a pivotal moment after the Cold War when ethnic cleansing in the Balkans dominated global headlines. Muslim volunteers came from distant lands to fight in Bosnia-Herzegovina alongside their co-religionists, offering themselves as an alternative to the US-led international community. Li highlights the parallels and overlaps between transnational jihads and other universalisms such as the War on Terror, United Nations peacekeeping, and socialist Non-Alignment. Developed from more than a decade of research with former fighters in a half-dozen countries, The Universal Enemy explores the relationship between jihad and American empire to shed critical light on both.

Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad
Kiyotaki, Keiko. Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad. Brill, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In Ottoman Land Reform in the Province of Baghdad, Keiko Kiyotaki traces the Ottoman reforms of tax farming and land tenure and establishes that their effects were the key ingredients of agricultural progress. These modernizing reforms are shown to be effective because they were compatible with local customs and tribal traditions, which the Ottoman governors worked to preserve.

Ottoman rule in Iraq has previously been considered oppressive and blamed with failure to develop the country. Since the British mandate government’s land and tax policies were little examined, the Ottoman legacy has been left unidentified. This book proves that Ottoman land reforms led to increases in agricultural production and tax revenue, while the hasty reforms enacted by the mandate government ignoring indigenous customs caused new agricultural and land problems.

A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East
Foltz, Richard. A History of the Tajiks: Iranians of the East. I.B. Tauris, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In this comprehensive and up to date history, from prehistoric proto-Indo-Iranian times to the post-Soviet period, Richard Foltz traces the complex linguistic, cultural and political history of the Tajiks, a Persian-speaking Iranian ethnic group from the modern-day Central Asian states of Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Uzbekistan. In eight chapters, the author explores the revitalisation of Persian culture under the Samanid Empire in the Tajik heartlands of historical Khorasan and Transoxiana; analyses the evolution of the politics of Tajik identity; and traces the history of the ethnic Tajik diaspora today.

Enlightening Europe on Islam and the Ottomans: Mouradgea d’Ohsson and His Masterpiece
Findley, Carter V. Enlightening Europe on Islam and the Ottomans: Mouradgea d’Ohsson and His Masterpiece. Brill, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Mouradgea d’Ohsson’s Tableau général de l’Empire othoman offered the Enlightenment Republic of Letters its most authoritative work on Islam and the Ottomans, also a practical reference work for kings and statesmen. Profusely illustrated and opening deep insights into illustrated book production in this period, this is also the richest collection of visual documentation on the Ottomans in a hundred years. Shaped by the author’s personal struggles, the work yet commands recognition in its own totality as a monument to inter-cultural understanding. In form one of the great taxonomic works of Enlightenment thought, this is a work of advocacy in the cause of reform and amity among France, Sweden, and the Ottoman Empire.

City of Black Gold: Oil, Ethnicity, and the Making of Modern Kirkuk
Bet-Shlimon, Arbella. City of Black Gold: Oil, Ethnicity, and the Making of Modern Kirkuk. Stanford University Press, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Kirkuk is Iraq's most multilingual city, for millennia home to a diverse population. It was also where, in 1927, a foreign company first struck oil in Iraq. Over the following decades, Kirkuk became the heart of Iraq's booming petroleum industry. City of Black Gold tells a story of oil, urbanization, and colonialism in Kirkuk—and how these factors shaped the identities of Kirkuk's citizens, forming the foundation of an ethnic conflict.

Arbella Bet-Shlimon reconstructs the twentieth-century history of Kirkuk to question the assumptions about the past underpinning today's ethnic divisions. In the early 1920s, when the Iraqi state was formed under British administration, group identities in Kirkuk were fluid. But as the oil industry fostered colonial power and Baghdad's influence over Kirkuk, intercommunal violence and competing claims to the city's history took hold. The ethnicities of Kurds, Turkmens, and Arabs in Kirkuk were formed throughout a century of urban development, interactions between communities, and political mobilization. Ultimately, this book shows how contentious politics in disputed areas are not primordial traits of those regions, but are a modern phenomenon tightly bound to the society and economics of urban life.

The Responsible Globalist: What Citizens of the World Can Learn from Nationalism
Damluji, Hassan. The Responsible Globalist: What Citizens of the World Can Learn from Nationalism. Penguin, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Today, globalism has a bad reputation. 'Citizens of the world' are depicted as recklessly uninterested in how international economic networks can affect local communities. Meanwhile, nationalists are often derided as racists and bigots. But what if the two were not so far apart? What could globalists learn from the powerful sense of belonging that nationalism has created? Faced with the injustices of the world's economic and political system, what should a responsible globalist do?

British-Iraqi development expert Hassan Damluji proposes six principles - from changing how we think about mobility to shutting down tax havens - which can help build consensus for a stronger globalist identity. He demonstrates that globalism is not limited to 'Davos man' but is a truly mass phenomenon that is growing fastest in emerging countries. Rather than a 'nowhere' identity, it is a new group solidarity that sits alongside other allegiances.

With a wealth of examples from the United States to India, China and the Middle East, The Responsible Globalist offers a boldly optimistic and pragmatic blueprint for building an inclusive, global nation. This will be a century-long project, where success is not guaranteed. But unless we can reimagine humanity as a single national community, Damluji warns, the gravest threats we face will not be defeated.

Syria: A Modern History
Lesch, David W. Syria: A Modern History. Polity, 2019. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Today Syria is a country known for all the wrong reasons: civil war, vicious sectarianism, and major humanitarian crisis. But how did this once rich, multi-cultural society end up as the site of one of the twenty-first century’s most devastating and brutal conflicts?

In this incisive book, internationally renowned Syria expert David Lesch takes the reader on an illuminating journey through the last hundred years of Syrian history – from the end of the Ottoman empire through to the current civil war. The Syria he reveals is a fractured mosaic, whose identity (or lack thereof) has played a crucial part in its trajectory over the past century. Only once the complexities and challenges of Syria’s history are understood can this pivotal country in the Middle East begin to rebuild and heal.

The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History
Lesch, David W. The Arab-Israeli Conflict: A History. 2nd ed. Oxford University Press, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Whether filtered through the media or through the classroom, the Arab-Israeli conflict has become a pervasive--and often misunderstood--subject of our contemporary cultural landscape. In this compelling new edition of The Arab-Israeli Conflict, widely respected scholar David W. Lesch presents the most balanced and accessible account of the conflict. Combining narrative history, primary sources, and informative analyses, The Arab-Israeli Conflict enables students to form their own educated opinions about complex and controversial issues.

New to this Edition:

  • Updated and revised material throughout, including coverage of the policies of the Obama administration, the Arab Spring, Israeli-Palestinian developments and conflicts, the Syrian civil war, the rise of ISIS, and the first year of the Trump administration
  • A new map--"The West Bank in 2017"--and a new "Closer Look" feature on the Iran nuclear deal in Chapter 12
  • New photographs and primary-source documents
  • Glossary terms are now boldfaced the first time they appear in the text
  • An updated glossary and a revised bibliography
  • Endnotes in each chapter that help students make the connection between the chapter narratives and the primary and secondary sources
The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny
Doostdar, Alireza. The Iranian Metaphysicals: Explorations in Science, Islam, and the Uncanny. Princeton University Press, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

What do the occult sciences, séances with the souls of the dead, and appeals to saintly powers have to do with rationality? Since the late nineteenth century, modernizing intellectuals, religious leaders, and statesmen in Iran have attempted to curtail many such practices as “superstitious,” instead encouraging the development of rational religious sensibilities and dispositions. However, far from diminishing the diverse methods through which Iranians engage with the immaterial realm, these rationalizing processes have multiplied the possibilities for metaphysical experimentation.

The Iranian Metaphysicals examines these experiments and their transformations over the past century. Drawing on years of ethnographic and archival research, Alireza Doostdar shows that metaphysical experimentation lies at the center of some of the most influential intellectual and religious movements in modern Iran. These forms of exploration have not only produced a plurality of rational orientations toward metaphysical phenomena but have also fundamentally shaped what is understood as orthodox Shi‘i Islam, including the forms of Islamic rationality at the heart of projects for building and sustaining an Islamic Republic.

Delving into frequently neglected aspects of Iranian spirituality, politics, and intellectual inquiry, The Iranian Metaphysicals challenges widely held assumptions about Islam, rationality, and the relationship between science and religion.

Winner of the 2018 Albert Hourani Book Award, Middle East Studies Association

Ottoman Rule of Law and the Modern Political Trial: The Yildiz Case
Rubin, Avi. Ottoman Rule of Law and the Modern Political Trial: The Yildiz Case. Syracuse University Press, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In 1876, a recently dethroned sultan, Abdülaziz, was found dead in his chambers, the veins in his arm slashed. Five years later, a group of Ottoman senior officials stood a criminal trial and were found guilty for complicity in his murder. Among the defendants was the world-famous statesman former Grand Vizier and reformer Ahmed Midhat Pasa, a political foe of the autocratic sultan Abdülhamit II, who succeeded Abdülaziz and ruled the empire for thirty-three years.

The alleged murder of the former sultan and the trial that ensued were political dramas that captivated audiences both domestically and internationally. The high-profile personalities involved, the international politics at stake, and the intense newspaper coverage all rendered the trial an historic event, but the question of whether the sultan was murdered or committed suicide remains a mystery that continues to be relevant in Turkey today. Drawing upon a wide range of narrative and archival sources, Rubin explores the famous yet understudied trial and its representations in contemporary public discourse and subsequent historiography. Through the reconstruction and analysis of various aspects of the trial, Rubin identifies the emergence of a new culture of legalism that sustained the first modern political trial in the history of the Middle East.

Beyond the Arab Cold War: The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68
Orkaby, Asher. Beyond the Arab Cold War: The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68. Oxford University Press, 2017. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Beyond the Arab Cold War brings the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68, to the forefront of modern Middle East History. During the 1960s, in the wake of a coup against Imam Muhammad al-Badr and the formation of the Yemen Arab Republic (YAR), Yemen was transformed into an arena of global conflict. Believing al-Badr to be dead, Egypt, the Soviet Union, and most countries recognized the YAR. But when al-Badr unexpectedly turned up alive, Saudi Arabia and Britain offered support to the deposed Imam, drawing Yemen into an internationally-sponsored civil war. Throughout six years of major conflict, Yemen sat at the crossroads of regional and international conflict as dozens of countries, international organizations, and individuals intervened in the local South Arabian civil war.

Yemen was a showcase for a new era of UN and Red Cross peacekeeping, clandestine activity, Egyptian counterinsurgency, and one of the first largescale uses of poison gas since WWI. Events in Yemen were not dominated by a single power, nor were they sole products of US-Soviet or Saudi-Egyptian Arab Cold War rivalry. Britain, Canada, Israel, the UN, the US, and the USSR joined Egypt and Saudi Arabia in assuming varying roles in fighting, mediating, and supplying the belligerent forces. Despite Cold War tensions, Americans and Soviets appeared on the same side of the Yemeni conflict and acted mutually to confine Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser to the borders of South Arabia. The end of the Yemen Civil War marked the end of both Nasser's Arab Nationalist colonial expansion and the British Empire in the Middle East, two of the most dominant regional forces.

This internationalized conflict was a pivotal event in Middle East history, overseeing the formation of a modern Yemeni state, the fall of Egyptian and British regional influence, another Arab-Israeli war, Saudi dominance of the Arabian Peninsula, and shifting power alliances in the Middle East that continue to lie at the core of modern-day conflicts in South Arabia.

Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions
Yaycioglu, Ali. Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions. Stanford University Press, 2016. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Partners of the Empire offers a radical rethinking of the Ottoman Empire in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Over this unstable period, the Ottoman Empire faced political crises, institutional shakeups, and popular insurrections. It responded through various reform options and settlements. New institutional configurations emerged; constitutional texts were codified—and annulled. The empire became a political theater where different actors struggled, collaborated, and competed on conflicting agendas and opposing interests.

This book takes a holistic look at the era, interested not simply in central reforms or in regional developments, but in their interactions. Drawing on original archival sources, Ali Yaycioglu uncovers the patterns of political action—the making and unmaking of coalitions, forms of building and losing power, and expressions of public opinion. Countering common assumptions, he shows that the Ottoman transformation in the Age of Revolutions was not a linear transition from the old order to the new, from decentralized state to centralized, from Eastern to Western institutions, or from pre-modern to modern. Rather, it was a condensed period of transformation that counted many crossing paths, as well as dead-ends, all of which offered a rich repertoire of governing possibilities to be followed, reinterpreted, or ultimately forgotten.

Tell This in My Memory: Stories of Enslavement from Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Empire
Powell, Eve Marie Troutt. Tell This in My Memory: Stories of Enslavement from Egypt, Sudan, and the Ottoman Empire. Stanford University Press, 2012. Publisher's VersionAbstract

In the late nineteenth century, an active slave trade sustained social and economic networks across the Ottoman Empire and throughout Egypt, Sudan, the Caucasus, and Western Europe. Unlike the Atlantic trade, slavery in this region crossed and mixed racial and ethnic lines. Fair-skinned Circassian men and women were as vulnerable to enslavement in the Nile Valley as were teenagers from Sudan or Ethiopia.

Tell This in My Memory opens up a new window in the study of slavery in the modern Middle East, taking up personal narratives of slaves and slave owners to shed light on the anxieties and intimacies of personal experience. The framework of racial identity constructed through these stories proves instrumental in explaining how countries later confronted—or not—the legacy of the slave trade. Today, these vocabularies of slavery live on for contemporary refugees whose forced migrations often replicate the journeys and stigmas faced by slaves in the nineteenth century.