Books

Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age

Zayani, Mohamed, ed. Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age. London: Hurst, 2017.

In recent years, the Middle East’s information and communication landscape has changed dramatically. Increasingly, states, businesses, and citizens are capitalising on the opportunities offered by new technologies, the fast pace of digitisation, and enhanced connectivity. These changes are far from turning Middle Eastern nations into network societies, but their impact is significant. The growing adoption of a wide variety of technologies in everyday life has given rise to complex dynamics that beg for a better understanding. Digital Middle East sheds a critical light on the continuing changes closely intertwined with the adoption of information and communication technologies in the region. Drawing on case studies from throughout the Middle East, the contributors explore how these digital transformations are playing out in the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres, exposing the various disjunctions and discordances that have marked the advent of the digital Middle East.

Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring

Abi-Mershed, Osama, ed. Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring. London: Hurst, 2017.

Social Currents in North Africa is a multi-disciplinary analysis of the social phenomena unfolding in the Maghreb today. The contributors analyse the genealogies of contemporary North African behavioral and ideological norms, and offer insights into post-Arab Spring governance and today’s social and political trends. The book situates regional developments within broader international currents, without forgoing the distinct features of each socio-historical context. With its common historical, cultural, and socio-economic foundations, the Maghreb is a cohesive area of study that allows for greater understanding of domestic developments from both single-country and comparative perspectives.  This volume refines the geo-historical unity of the Maghreb by accounting for social connections, both within the nation-state and across political boundaries and historical eras. It illustrates that non-institutional phenomena are equally formative to the ongoing project of post-colonial sovereignty, to social construction and deployments of state power, and to local outlooks on social equity, economic prospects, and cultural identity.

Target Markets – International Terrorism Meets Global Capitalism in the Mall

Suzi MirganiTarget Markets: International Terrorism Meets Global Capitalism in the Mall. Bielefeld: Transcript Press, 2016.

This book explores the points of convergence between corporate capitalist and terrorist practice. Assessing an increase in the number of terrorist attacks directed at commercial entities in urban areas, with an emphasis on the shopping mall in general and Nairobi's Westgate Mall in particular, Suzi Mirgani offers a fascinating and disturbing perspective on the spaces where the most powerful forces of contemporary culture – the most mainstream and the most extreme – meet on common ground.

The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf

Ulrichsen, Kristian Coates, ed. The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf. London: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016.

The contradictory trends of the ‘post-Arab Spring’ landscape form both the backdrop to, and the focus of, this volume on the changing security dynamics of the Persian Gulf, defined as the six GCC states plus Iraq and Iran. The political and economic upheaval triggered by the uprisings of 2011, and the rapid emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 2014, have underscored the vulnerability of regional states to an intersection of domestic pressures and external shocks. The initial phase of the uprisings has given way to a series of messy and uncertain transitions that have left societies deeply fractured and ignited violence both within and across states. The bulk of the protests, with the notable exception of Bahrain, occurred outside the Gulf region, but Persian Gulf states were at the forefront of the political, economic, and security response across the Middle East.

This volume provides a timely and comparative study of how security in the Persian Gulf has evolved and adapted to the growing uncertainty of the post-2011 regional landscape.

The Red Star and the Crescent

Reardon-Anderson, James ed.The Red Star and the Crescent. London: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016. 

The Red Star and the Crescent provides an in-depth and multi-disciplinary analysis of the evolving relationship between China and the Middle East. Despite its increasing importance, very few studies have examined this dynamic, deepening, and multi-faceted nexus. James Reardon-Anderson has sought to fill this critical gap.

The volume examines the ‘big picture’ of international relations, then zooms in on case studies and probes the underlying domestic factors on each side. Reardon-Anderson tackles topics as diverse as China’s security strategy in the Middle East, its military relations with the states of the region, its role in the Iran nuclear negotiations, the Uyghur question, and the significance and consequences of the Silk Road strategy.

A comprehensive study of the changing forces driving one of the world’s most important strategic, economic and cultural relationships.

The Great Game in West Asia:  Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus

Kamrava, Mehran, ed. The Great Game in West Asia: Iran, Turkey and the South Caucasus. Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017.

The Great Game in West Asia examines the strategic competition between Iran and Turkey for power and influence in the South Caucasus. These neighboring Middle East powers have vied for supremacy and influence throughout the region and especially in their immediate vicinity, while contending with ethnic heterogeneity both within their own territories and across their borders. Turkey has long conceived of itself as not just a bridge between Asia and Europe but in more substantive terms as a central player in regional and global affairs. If somewhat more modest in its public statements, Iran’s parallel ambitions for strategic centrality and influence have only been masked by its own inarticulate foreign policy agendas and the repeated missteps of its revolutionary leaders. But both have sought to deepen their regional influence and power, and in the South Caucasus each has achieved a modicum of success. In fact, as the contributions to this volume demonstrate, as much of the world’s attention has been diverted to conflicts and flashpoints near and far, a new great game has been unravelling between Iran and Turkey in the South Caucasus. Read more

 

The Impossibility of Palestine

Kamrava, Mehran. The Impossibility of Palestine. New Haven CT, Yale University Press, 2016. 

The “two-state solution” is the official policy of Israel, the United States, the United Nations, and the Palestinian Authority alike. However, international relations scholar Mehran Kamrava argues that Israel’s “state-building” process has never risen above the level of municipal governance, and its goal has never been Palestinian independence. He explains that a coherent Palestinian state has already been rendered an impossibility, and to move forward, Palestine must redefine its present predicament and future aspirations. Based on detailed fieldwork, exhaustive scholarship, and an in-depth examination of historical sources, this controversial work will be widely read and debated by all sides. Read more from Yale University Press. 

Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East.

Kamrava, Mehran, ed. Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East. New York: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016.

The 2011 Arab uprisings precipitated the relatively quick collapse of a number of Middle Eastern states once perceived as invincible. The Tunisian and Egyptian states succumbed to revolutionary upheavals early on, followed by that of Qadhafi’s Libya. Yemen’s President Saleh was also eventually forced to give up power. A bloody civil war continues to rage in Syria. These uprisings highlighted weaknesses in the capacity and legitimacy of states across the Arab Middle East. This book provides a comprehensive study of state weakness—or of ‘weak states’—across the Greater Middle East. Read more from Oxford University Press.

Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC

Babar, Zahra, ed. Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC. London: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017. 

Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC is a unique, original work of scholarship based on in-depth fieldwork shedding light on a topic both highly relevant and woefully understudied. It focuses on the earlier community of Arab immigrants within the GCC, who are among the politically most significant and sensitive of migrant groups in the region. Through its multi-disciplinary lenses of social history, cultural studies, economics, and political science, the book presents original data and provides analyses of the settlement and continued evolution of migrant Arab communities across the GCC, their work in and assimilation within host societies and labour markets, and their political, economic, social and cultural significance both to the GCC region and to their countries of origin. Read more from Oxford University Press

Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings

Zayani, Mohamed, and Suzi Mirgani, eds. Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings. New York: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016. 

Bullets and Bulletins takes a sobering and holistic look at the intersections between media and politics before, during, and in the reverberations of the Arab uprisings. It is a multi-disciplinary approach to the topic, with the research backed up by in-depth and rigorous case studies of the key countries of the Arab Spring. The uprisings were accompanied by profound changes in the roles of traditional and new media across the Middle East. What added significantly to the amplification of demands and grievances in the public spheres, streets and squares, was the dovetailing of an increasingly indignant population — ignited by the prospects of economic and political marginalisation — with high rates of media literacy, digital connectivity, and social media prowess. This combination of political activism and mediated communication turned popular street protests into battles over information, where authorities and activists wrestled with each other over media messages. Bullets and Bulletins offers original insights and analysis into the role of traditional and new media in what is undoubtedly a most critical period in contemporary Middle Eastern history. Read more from Oxford University Press.