Publications by Faculty & Alumni

Boots, Anna. “'The Boundaries of the Tunisian': Migration and Race in post-Revolution Tunisia.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Byg, Blaire. “Changing Nature, Shifting People: Point Four, Water Development, and U.S. Refugee Policy in the Jordan River Valley, 1949-1955.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Cord, Daniel. “The Date Palm and the Da'wa: Non-Religious Factors Favoring the Rise and Resiliency of the Saudi States.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Harb, Mohamad Khalil. “Escapism by Design: An Ethnography of Leisure-Consumption Architecture in Beirut .” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Hurwitz, Stephen. “United Nations Security Council Resolution 242: The Role of Ambiguity.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
McGonigle, Ian. “Genomic Citizenship: Peoplehood and State in Israel and Qatar.” Anthropology and MES, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation describes basic genetic research and biobanking of ethnic populations in Israel and Qatar. I track how biomedical research on ethnic populations relates to the political, economic, legal, and historical context of the states; to global trends in genetic medicine; and to the politics of identity in the context of global biomedical research. I describe the ways biology is becoming a site for negotiating identity in ethnic genetics, in discourse over rights to citizenship, in rare disease genetics, and in personalized medicine. The core focus of this work is the way the molecular realm is an emergent site for articulations of ethnonational identities in the contemporary Middle East. This is thus a study of Middle Eastern ethnonationalism and state building through the lens of biology, specifically genetics and biobanking. In revealing the complex interdigitations of genomic technologies and articulations of ethnonational identity, this scholarship informs the biopolitics of the contemporary Middle East. I find that societal conditions (emerging national identities, immigration, demographic pressures, enskillment of citizens, biomedical capacity building, and globalization of the economy), and technological affordances (such advances in the speed and power of genomic sequencing technologies, and the entailed promises of biomedical progress), collide to overdetermine biological iterations of ethnic identity, and I show that biobanking projects serve, to varying degrees, to inculcate an imagination of shared history; a collective community; and a healthy utopian future. I argue that the Israeli and Qatari national biobanks imagine participation in ‘global science’ while at the same time they reinforce local ethnic identities. The Israeli biobank reflects pre-existing ethnic identities in Israeli society, while the Qatari biobank preferentially emphasizes the emergent national character of the Qatari population. As a comparative study of genetics and ethnic identity in the contemporary Middle East, this research, therefore, speaks both to the social theory of the co-production of science and society and to the anthropology of nation and state building.

Salikuddin, Rubina. “Sufis, Saints, and Shrines: Piety in the Timurid Period, 1370-1507.” History and MES, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation is a study on piety and religious practice as shaped by the experience of pilgrimage to these numerous saintly shrines in fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Timurid Iran and Central Asia. Shrine visitation, or ziyārat, was one of the most ubiquitous Islamic devotional practices across medieval Iran and Central Asia, at times eliciting more zeal than obligatory rituals such as the Friday congregational prayer. This dissertation makes use of a broad source base including city histories, shrine visitation guides, compendiums of religious sciences, court histories, biographies of Sufis, endowment deeds, ethical or moral (akhlāq) treatises, and material culture in the form of architecture and epigraphical data. This work contributes to a better understanding of how Islam as a discursive tradition informed and was informed by the piety and religious practice of medieval Muslims of all classes. It challenges a vision of a monolithic Islamic orthopraxy by showing how the very fabric of Islam in medieval Iran and Central Asia represented both continuity with an Islamic past and a catering to local and contemporary needs.

The aim of this study is three-fold. First, it argues that the forms of ritual prescribed in the Timurid shrine manuals largely coalesced into a coherent program in this period and reflect a vernacular understanding of shrine visitation found in the more scholarly Islamic literature. It also demonstrates how the performance of the physical practices and oral litanies of the ziyārat formed part of the habitus of a pilgrim. Second, the hagiographic stories of the holy dead revered at these shrines represent tangible ideals of pious living for society to imitate. They point to the centrality of esotericism, miracle-working and a rigorous adherence to the Sharia in constructing this template. For example, a major part of the saintliness of Abū Yūsuf Hamadānī, an important saint buried in Samarkand, stems from his extreme religious observance. He is said to have made the Hajj thirty-three times, finished the Qur’an over a thousand times, memorized over seven hundred books on the religious sciences, received over two hundred and sixteen scholars and spent most of his life fasting. On the other hand, the patron saint of this same city, Shāh-i Zinda, is revered for his supernatural powers and his relation to the Prophet Muḥammad. This amplified reverence for the Prophet Muḥammad and his family demonstrates the increasing precedence of shrines of people genealogically linked to the Prophet Muḥammad as objects of veneration by the largely Sunni populations in the Timurid period.

The third and final aim of this dissertation is to provide a map of the actual places of pilgrimage and establish the importance of the “locality” of saints in creating a shared identity and history using the methods of Geographical Information Systems (GIS). It traces the ways that pilgrims would move through their cities to visit the various shrines scattered across the landscape. The journey to some shrines fell well within the normal daily movements of an inhabitant of a particular city, while other journeys proved more arduous, pointing to the possibility of a varied ziyārat experience. While many shrines were presented as single locations, there are instances when a pilgrim is advised to make a circuit of many important shrines in a certain area or of a certain type of holy person (e.g. prophets). The routes and spaces, along with mosques and madrasas, are embedded in a sacred geography of the city.

Liew, Han Hsien. “Piety, Knowledge, and Rulership in Medieval Islam: Ibn al-Jawzī’s Ameliorative Politics.” History and MES, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This dissertation examines the political thought of Ibn al-Jawzī (d. 1201), a Sunni Muslim religious scholar who flourished as a preacher in twelfth-century Baghdad. During this period, Baghdad was the main arena of conflict between the Abbasid caliphs and the Seljuq sultans as both sides competed to exert control over the city. The militarized rule of the Seljuqs also entailed heavy taxation and harsh punitive measures on the populace. Through an intertextual reading of various genres in the Islamic intellectual tradition, this study reconstructs Ibn al-Jawzī’s intellectual response to the shifting political dynamics of the twelfth-century Islamic world.

This dissertation argues that Ibn al-Jawzī adopted an ameliorative approach to politics and emphasized the values of piety and religious knowledge as the hallmarks of ideal Islamic rulership. To ensure that the ruling authorities govern based on piety and the sharīʿa, Ibn al-Jawzī envisions a greater role for religious scholars in the political sphere. His ideal ruler is one who devotes himself to the Qurʾān and ḥadīth, adheres to Islamic legal and ritualistic precepts, and consults with scholars. These ideals depart from the dominant political discourses of his time that prioritize the ruler’s ability to maintain societal order, regardless of his moral and religious qualities. Yet Ibn al-Jawzī’s emphasis on piety and knowledge did not steer his political thought towards the radical ideologies upheld by certain fringe groups such as the Khārijites. Instead, he pursues an ameliorative approach to politics that aims at mediatory, moderate, and pragmatic reform. This approach is best represented by the preacher who uses his rhetorical skills to tame the arbitrary nature of power and guide the ruler towards righteous rule. It also comes across in Ibn al-Jawzī’s juristically prudent effort to protest against dismal political situations without overtly sanctioning the act of rebellion against a ruler who rules unjustly and impiously.

A study of Ibn al-Jawzī’s political discourses points towards a new reading of the history of Islamic political thought that, rather than focusing solely on Muslim thinkers who promulgated the principle of “might is right,” takes into account as well diverse and competing approaches to power. It sheds light on the various creative ways in which Muslim intellectuals utilized writings to effect social and political reform.

McIndoe, Andrew. “UNIFL and the Changing Nature of Peacekeeping.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Quarantello, Kim. “Middle East Refugees in Lowell: A Case Study on Refugee Resettlement—'American foreign policy f***** up my country, but the United States gave me a new life'.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Sakayan, Mano. “Evangelizing in Eastern Anatolia: Historicizing the Rise and Early Work of the ABCFM's Harput Station.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Saleh, Mohamad. “Estrangement: Transience and Being in Modern Arabic Literature.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Sbitan, Jamil. “'Lubricating the Machines of the Western World': Knowledge and Subjectivity in Aramco's American Employee Handbooks (1950).” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Wye, Theodore. “Islamic State Prisons: Structural Violence and Connections to an Authoritarian Past.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2018.
Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism
Doherty, Gareth, ed. Roberto Burle Marx Lectures: Landscape as Art and Urbanism. Lars Müller Publishers, 2018. Publisher's VersionAbstract

Roberto Burle Marx (1909–1994) remains one of the most important landscape architects in the history of the field. His distinctive and widely acclaimed work has been featured and referenced in numerous sources, yet few of Burle Marx’s own words have been published.

This collection of a dozen of Burle Marx’s lectures, most of which have never before been available in English, fills that void. Delivered on international speaking tours, they address topics such as Concepts in Landscape Composition, Gardens and Ecology and The Problem of Garden Lighting. Their publication sheds light on Burle Marx’s distinctive ethic and aesthetic of landscape, as “the real art of living.”

The lectures paint a picture of Burle Marx not just as a gardener, artist and botanist, but as a landscape architect whose ambition was to bring radical change to cities and society. The lectures are framed by photographs, by Leonardo Finotti, of a selection of Burle Marx’s realized projects.

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.

Agha, Zena. “The Judaization of Space: A Critical Analysis of Spatial Practices in Palestine–Israel.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2017.
Ataman, Joseph. “The War of Words: How Islamic State Tailors its Messaging to English and Turkish Readers.” Center for Middle Eastern Studies, 2017.