753 episodes

Interviews with Scholars of the Middle East about their New Books
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New Books in Middle Eastern Studies Marshall Poe

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.4 • 24 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of the Middle East about their New Books
Support our show by becoming a premium member! https://newbooksnetwork.supportingcast.fm/middle-eastern-studies

    Jillian Schwedler, "Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent" (Stanford UP, 2022)

    Jillian Schwedler, "Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent" (Stanford UP, 2022)

    Protest has been a key method of political claim-making in Jordan from the late Ottoman period to the present day. More than moments of rupture within normal-time politics, protests have been central to challenging state power, as well as reproducing it—and the spatial dynamics of protests play a central role in the construction of both state and society. With this book, Jillian Schwedler considers how space and geography influence protests and repression, and, in challenging conventional narratives of Hashemite state-making, offers the first in-depth study of rebellion in Jordan. 
    Based on twenty-five years of field research, Protesting Jordan: Geographies of Power and Dissent (Stanford UP, 2022) examines protests as they are situated in the built environment, bringing together considerations of networks, spatial imaginaries, space and place-making, and political geographies at local, national, regional, and global scales. Schwedler considers the impact of time and temporality in the lifecycles of individual movements. Through a mixed interpretive methodology, this book illuminates the geographies of power and dissent and the spatial practices of protest and repression, highlighting the political stakes of competing narratives about Jordan's past, present, and future.
    Ronay Bakan is a Ph.D. student at the Department of Political Science at Johns Hopkins University.
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    • 41 min
    Travis Zadeh, "Wonders and Rarities: The Marvelous Book That Traveled the World and Mapped the Cosmos" (Harvard UP, 2023)

    Travis Zadeh, "Wonders and Rarities: The Marvelous Book That Traveled the World and Mapped the Cosmos" (Harvard UP, 2023)

    During the thirteenth century, the Persian naturalist and judge Zakariyyāʾ Qazwīnī authored what became one of the most influential works of natural history in the world: Wonders and Rarities. Exploring the dazzling movements of the stars above, the strange minutiae of the minerals beneath the earth, and everything in between, Qazwīnī offered a captivating account of the cosmos. With fine paintings and leading science, Wonders and Rarities inspired generations as it traveled through madrasas and courts, unveiling the magical powers of nature. Yet after circulating for centuries, first in Arabic and Persian, then in Turkish and Urdu, Qazwīnī's compendium eventually came to stand as a strange, if beautiful, emblem of medieval ignorance.
    In Wonders and Rarities: The Marvelous Book That Traveled the World and Mapped the Cosmos (Harvard UP, 2023), Travis Zadeh dramatically revises the place of wonder in the history of Islamic philosophy, science, and literature. From the Mongol conquests to the rise of European imperialism and Islamic reform, Zadeh shows, wonder provided an enduring way to conceive of the world--at once constituting an affective reaction, an aesthetic stance, a performance of piety, and a cognitive state. Yet through the course of colonial modernity, Qazwīnī's universe of marvels helped advance the notion that Muslims lived in a timeless world of superstition and enchantment, unaware of the western hemisphere or the earth's rotation around the sun. Recovering Qazwīnī's ideas and his reception, Zadeh invites us into a forgotten world of thought, where wonder mastered the senses through the power of reason and the pleasure of contemplation.
    Travis Zadeh revives the work of the thirteenth-century Persian scholar Qazwīnī, whose Wonders and Rarities was for centuries one of the most influential natural histories in the world. Inviting us to embrace anew Qazwīnī’s rationalized study of nature and magic, Zadeh dramatically revises the place of wonder in the history of Islamic thought.
    Raj Balkaran is a scholar of Sanskrit narrative texts. He teaches at the Oxford Centre for Hindu Studies and at his own virtual School of Indian Wisdom. For information see rajbalkaran.com.
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    • 54 min
    Fida Jiryis, "The Cage" (Pardes, 2022)

    Fida Jiryis, "The Cage" (Pardes, 2022)

    Ha-Kluv (The Cage) is a Hebrew anthology of selected short stories by Fida Jiryis, which she originally published in Arabic. The stories speak of the life of Palestinians in Israel and in the West Bank. Through these snapshots of daily life, the book attempts to portray the complex realities of living on both sides of the divide, examining issues of politics, identity, gender, poverty, and the human toll exacted by the Israeli occupation.
    Fida Jiryis is a Palestinian writer and editor who has written on life as a Palestinian in Israel and the West Bank. She contributed to Kingdom of Olives and Ash, a Washington Post bestseller on five years of Israeli occupation, and Amputated Tongue, a Hebrew-language anthology of Palestinian literature. Fida has published three collections of Arabic short stories depicting life in Palestine, one of which, Al-Khawaja (The Gentleman) was recently made into a theatre production.
    Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com
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    • 42 min
    Beatrice Forbes Manz, "Nomads in the Middle East" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Beatrice Forbes Manz, "Nomads in the Middle East" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    A history of pastoral nomads in the Islamic Middle East, Nomads in the Middle East by Beatrice Forbes Manz (Cambridge University Press, 2021) charts the rise of nomadic power from the formation of Islam through the Middle Ages, when Mongols and Turks ruled most of the region, to the decline of nomadic power in the twentieth century. Offering a vivid insight into the impact of nomads on the politics, culture, and ideology of the region, Beatrice Forbes Manz examines and challenges existing perceptions of these nomads, including the popular cyclical model of nomad-settled interaction developed by Ibn Khaldun. Looking at both the Arab Bedouin and the nomads from the Eurasian steppe, Manz demonstrates the significance of Bedouin and Turco-Mongolian contributions to cultural production and political ideology in the Middle East, and shows the central role played by pastoral nomads in war, trade, and state-building throughout history. Nomads provided horses and soldiers for war, the livestock and guidance which made long-distance trade possible, and animal products to provision the region's growing cities.
    Maggie Freeman is a PhD student in the School of Architecture at MIT. She researches uses of architecture by nomadic peoples and historical interactions of nomads and empires, with a focus on the modern Middle East.
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    • 47 min
    Alda Benjamen, "Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Alda Benjamen, "Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space" (Cambridge UP, 2021)

    Today I talked to Alda Benjamen about his book Assyrians in Modern Iraq: Negotiating Political and Cultural Space (Cambridge UP, 2021)
    Examining the relationship between a strengthened Iraqi state under the Baʿth regime and the Assyrians, a Christian ethno-religious group, Benjamen studies the role of minorities in twentieth-century Iraqi political and cultural history. Relying on extensive research in Iraq, including sources uncovered at the Iraqi National Archives in Baghdad, as well as in libraries and private collections in Erbil, Duhok, and Mosul, in Arabic and modern Aramaic, Benjamen foregrounds the Iraqi periphery as well as the history of bilingualism to challenge the monolingual narrative of the state. By exploring the role of Assyrians in Iraq's leftist and oppositional movements, including gendered representations of women, she demonstrates how, within newly politicized urban spaces, minorities became attracted to intellectual and political movements that allowed them to advance their own concerns while engaging with other Iraqis of their socio-economic background and relying on transnational community networks. Assyrian intellectuals not only negotiated but also resisted government policies through their cultural production, thereby achieving a softening of Baʿthist policies towards the Assyrians that differed markedly from those of later repressive eras.
    Roberto Mazza is currently an independent scholar. He is the host of the Jerusalem Unplugged Podcast and to discuss and propose a book for interview can be reached at robbymazza@gmail.com. Twitter and IG: @robbyref
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    • 1 hr 17 min
    Eric Vanden Eykel, "The Magi: Who They Were, How They've Been Remembered, and Why They Still Fascinate" (Fortress Press, 2022)

    Eric Vanden Eykel, "The Magi: Who They Were, How They've Been Remembered, and Why They Still Fascinate" (Fortress Press, 2022)

    George Tyrrell insisted that the quest for the historical Jesus was no more than scholars staring into a well to see their own reflections staring back. Jesus is the mirror image of those who study him. A similar phenomenon accompanies the quest for the historical Magi, those mysterious travelers who came from the East, following a star to Bethlehem.
    In this work, ancient historian and scholar Eric Vanden Eykel helps readers better understand both the Magi and the ancient and modern interpreters who have tried to study them. He shows how, from a mere twelve verses in the Gospel of Matthew, a varied and vast literary and artistic tradition was born. The Magi: Who They Were, How They've Been Remembered, and Why They Still Fascinate (Fortress Press, 2022) examines the birth of the Magi story;its enrichments, embellishments, and expansions in apocryphal writing and early Christian preaching;its artistic expressions in catacombs, icons, and paintings and its modern legacy in novels, poetry, and music.
    Throughout, the book explores the fascination the Magi story elicits in both ancient and modern readers and what the legacy of the Magi story tells us about its storytellers--and ourselves.
    Eric Vanden Eykel is associate professor of religion and the Forrest S. WIlliams Teaching Chair in the Humanities at Ferrum College.
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    • 51 min

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