466 episodes

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

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.3 • 19 Ratings

Interviews with Scholars of the Middle East about their New Books
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    Junaid Quadri, "Transformations of Tradition: Islamic Law in Colonial Modernity" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    Junaid Quadri, "Transformations of Tradition: Islamic Law in Colonial Modernity" (Oxford UP, 2021)

    In his much anticipated and equally brilliant book Transformations of Tradition: Islamic Law in Colonial Modernity (Oxford UP, 2021), Junaid Quadri explores the productive tensions, fissures, and creative interpretive projects enabled by the drive to defend Muslim traditionalism under the looming shadows of colonial modernity. By focusing on the thought and career of the towering 20th century Egyptian scholar Bakhit al-Mutiʿi, Quadri interrogates ways in which new technologies like the telescope and telegraph interacted with traditional norms like moonsighting (for announcing beginning of Ramadan and ‘Id) to generate vexing yet fascinating conundrums of normative knowledge and practice for traditionalist scholars like Bakhit. Much of this book interrogates the hermeneutical strategies, tussles of religious authority, and new conceptions of religion that went into attempted resolutions of such novel conundrums. While maintaining normative fidelity to the tradition, Bakhit also transformed the tradition in indelible ways, Quadri argues. This engaging and provocative book will interest scholars from multiple fields, and spark great conversations in the classroom as well.
    SherAli Tareen is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at Franklin and Marshall College. His research focuses on Muslim intellectual traditions and debates in early modern and modern South Asia. His book Defending Muhammad in Modernity (University of Notre Dame Press, 2020) received the American Institute of Pakistan Studies 2020 Book Prize. His other academic publications are available here. He can be reached at sherali.tareen@fandm.edu. Listener feedback is most welcome.
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    • 1 hr 20 min
    Nicola Pratt, "Embodying Geopolitics: Generations of Women’s Activism in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon" (U California Press, 2020)

    Nicola Pratt, "Embodying Geopolitics: Generations of Women’s Activism in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon" (U California Press, 2020)

    Dina Hassan (Lecturer, Modern Languages, Literatures, and Linguistics, University of Oklahoma, USA) speaks with Nicola Pratt (Associate Professor, International Politics of the Middle East, University of Warwick, UK) about Pratt’s recent book, Embodying Geopolitics: Generations of Women’s Activism in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon (University of California Press, 2020).
    Waves of protests drew women and men, young and old across the Middle East into the streets to demonstrate against authoritarian regimes during 2011. Nicola Pratt’s sweeping new monograph provides essential context for the gendered significance of that activism. In over one hundred oral histories with activists, Pratt locates the long roots and diverse aims of women’s participation in anticolonial and egalitarian movements in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon from the 1950s to the present day. Grappling with the legacies of state feminism in Egypt or vibrant voluntary societies in Jordan requires scholars develop analytical tools attuned to the dynamism of gender relations over the past century. Join us for a conversation that connects the personal and the political across time, national borders, and political affiliations.
    Interested in further resources? Please consult Prof. Pratt’s digital archive of Interviews “Middle East Women’s Activism” here.
    For more resources on women and revolution, visit the multimedia, digital archive, co-curated by Prof. Pratt: “Politics, Popular Culture and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.”
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    • 1 hr 7 min
    Helen Zughaib and Elia Zughaib, "Stories My Father Told Me: Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon" (Cune Press, 2020)

    Helen Zughaib and Elia Zughaib, "Stories My Father Told Me: Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon" (Cune Press, 2020)

    Family stories are the texture of the human fabric. From every land, from every time, they bring the past to life for young ears.
    In the beginning of the twentieth century, when there were no borders in the Middle East (it was then called la grande Syrie), Elia Zughaib grew up first in Damascus, then in the mountains of Lebanon. In a rural culture, animals and humans work in tandem. Children play in the surrounding fields and streams. Traditional celebrations mark the seasons of the year. When history intervened and Lebanon became a battleground between England and France, his family left their home and applied for asylum in America. The migration began.
    The achievement of Helen Zughaib is to bring these memories to life through art. The book’s 25 paintings appear facing Elia’s stories. He serves as the hakawati, the traditional storyteller. The stories in Stories My Father Told Me: Memories of a Childhood in Syria and Lebanon (Cune Press, 2020) are simply told, but they are not simple. Their power is enormous. Helen’s voice is as powerful as his: geometrical shapes, stunning patterns, fierce colors, and people, people, people, young and old. They are delivering milk, planting olive trees, building bonfires for Eid Al Salib, going to a wedding, drying figs, watching the show box, and learning lessons: about charity and compassion and about blind charity. The good, the glad, the sad, and the wise all inhabit these pages.
    Helen Zughaib’s gouaches are in public and private collections: the White House, the Library of Congress, World Bank, American Embassy in Baghad. She has been a cultural envoy for the U.S. State Department, conducting art workshops in Saudi Arabia and Palestine. Her work has been exhibited internationally and has been presented to heads of state by President Obama and the former Secretary of State Hillary Cinton.
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    • 58 min
    Richard C. Jankowsky, "Ambient Sufism: Ritual Niches and the Social Work of Musical Form" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Richard C. Jankowsky, "Ambient Sufism: Ritual Niches and the Social Work of Musical Form" (U Chicago Press, 2021)

    Ambient Sufism: Ritual Niches and the Social Work of Musical Form (University of Chicago Press, 2021) by Richard C. Jankowsky (an Associate Professor of music at Tufts University) is a rich ethnographic study of the sonic and ritual landscapes of complex religious communities in Tunisia. Using theoretical approaches of ethnomusicology that attends to questions and patterns of form, texture, and intensification of the soundscapes, along with the consideration of the uses of various instruments, such as during trance, Stambeli, and dhikr, the study illuminates the role of women, racial, and religious minorities in shaping the ritual musical landscape of the region. The book includes case studies on women's and men's Sufi orders, Jewish and Black Tunisian healing practices, and popular music across diverse socio-economic classes as a prism to consider the social work of ritual music. Jankowsky concludes with a critical discussion of the popularization of Sufi ritual music in mass-mediated staged spectacles and the ambiguous roles of these concerts. Conceptually, then, "ambient Sufism" illuminates diverse and adjacent ritual practices that serve as a musical, social, and devotional-therapeutic niche which exists within a broader ecology of practices that orbit the life and legacies of saints, especially Sufis. This book will be of interest to those who think and write on ethnomusicology, anthropology, Islamic and religious studies, and North African studies, while its accompanying website will be a great resource for those who teach on this topic.
    Shobhana Xavier is an Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Queen’s University. More details about her research and scholarship may be found here and here. She may be reached at shobhana.xavier@queensu.ca. You can follow her on Twitter via @shobhanaxavier.
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    • 1 hr 3 min
    Smriti Srinivas et al., "Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds" (Routledge, 2020)

    Smriti Srinivas et al., "Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds" (Routledge, 2020)

    Reimagining Indian Ocean Worlds (Routledge, 2020), coedited by Smriti Srinivas, Bettina Ng'weno, and Neelima Jeychandran, breaks new ground by bringing together multidisciplinary approaches to examine contemporary Indian Ocean worlds. It reconfigures the Indian Ocean as a space for conceptual and theoretical relationality based on social science and humanities scholarship, thus moving away from an area-based and geographical approach to Indian Ocean studies. Contributors from a variety of disciplines focus on keywords such as relationality, space/place, quotidian practices, and new networks of memory and maps to offer original insights to reimagine the Indian Ocean. While the volume as a whole considers older histories, mobilities, and relationships between places in Indian Ocean worlds, it is centrally concerned with new connectivities and layered mappings forged in the lived experiences of individuals and communities today. The chapters are steeped in ethnographic, multi-modal, and other humanities methodologies that examine different sources besides historical archives and textual materials, including everyday life, cities, museums, performances, the built environment, media, personal narratives, food, medical practices, or scientific explorations. An important contribution to several fields, this book will be of interest to academics of Indian Ocean studies, Afro-Asian linkages, inter-Asian exchanges, Afro-Arab crossroads, Asian studies, African studies, Anthropology, History, Geography, and International Relations.
    Smriti Srinivas is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Davis. 
    Bettina Ng’weno is Associate Professor for African American and African Studies at the University of California, Davis. 
    Neelima Jeychandran is a Postdoctoral Fellow and Research Associate in African Studies and Asian Studies at The Pennsylvania State University. 
    Kelvin Ng hosted the episode. He is a Ph.D. student at Yale University, History Department. His research interests broadly lie in the history of imperialism and anti-imperialism in the early-twentieth-century Indian Ocean circuit.
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    • 1 hr 14 min
    Ayfer Karakaya-Stump, "The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics, and Community" (Edinburgh UP)

    Ayfer Karakaya-Stump, "The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics, and Community" (Edinburgh UP)

    In today's program, Ayfer Karakaya-Stump, Associate Professor of History at the College of William and Mary, discusses her recently-published monograph, The Kizilbash/Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia: Sufism, Politics, and Community (Edinburgh University Press, 2019). 
    The Kizilbash-Alevis in Ottoman Anatolia, winner of the 2020 SERMEISS Book Award for outstanding scholarship in Middle Eastern/Islamic Studies, is the first monograph to address the social history of Kizilbashism/Alevism. It explores the origins of the Kizilbash/Alevis within the context of cosmopolitan Sufism in the Middle East. Using newly surfaced sources generated from the Kizilbash/Alevi milieu, she traces the transformation of the Kizilbash from a radical religio-political movement into a religious order of closed communities. In doing so, she breaks with paradigms that have dominated the study of Kizilbash/Alevis and offers an alternative approach to the study of 'heterodox' religious communities in the Islamic world.
    Deren Ertas is a PhD student in the joint program in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard University. You can reach her on Twitter @drnrts.
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    • 1 hr 15 min

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