Mohamed Zayani, ed., Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2018).
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. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Suzi Mirgani, ed., Art and Cultural Production in the Gulf Cooperation Council (London: Routledge, 2018).
State-driven investments in art and cultural production in the states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are an important part of the search for longer-term alternatives to the longer-term unsustainability of the hydrocarbon-based economic development model. They also are an element in the search for soft power and status, and intersect with the nation-building project. The long-term planned––and unplanned––effects of such cultural initiatives include a necessary opening up to a future of unexpected and often undesired cultural encounters, whether in the classroom, the art gallery, the sports stadium, or the labor office. As states driven by a desire to raise both their regional and international status, but needing to satisfy their domestic conservative constituencies, their greatest test will be their judicious negotiating of the conflicting sociocultural elements of an increasingly globalized world. This volume offers a comprehensive multi-disciplinary analysis of this complex arena and the state of art and cultural production in these Gulf societies, through original studies on identity formation and an emerging museology; the aesthetics of censorship; the question of authenticity; cultural projects as state-driven soft power efforts; the phenomenon of public art; and artistic engagements with migrant labor communities. Read more from Routledge.
Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, ed., The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017).
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. Read more at Oxford University Press.
Mehran Kamrava, 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 neighbouring 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 at Oxford University Press.
Chandra Lekha Sriram, ed., Transitional Justice in the Middle East (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2017).
Following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, many had high hopes not only for democratisation but also for transitional justice to address the myriad abuses that had taken place in the region, both during the uprisings and for decades prior to them. Despite these hopes, most of the transitions in the region have stalled, along with the possibility of transitional justice. This volume is the first to look at this process and brings together leading experts in the fields of human rights and transitional justice, and in the history, politics and justice systems of countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Morocco. While these countries have diverse histories, political institutions, and experiences with accountability, most have experienced non-transition, stalled transition, or political manipulation of transitional justice measures, highlighting the limits of such mechanisms. These studies should inform reflection not only on the role of transitional justice in the region, but also on challenges to its operation more generally. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Mahmood Monshipouri, ed., Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016).
Since 1989, the internal dynamics of change in Iran, rooted in a panoply of socioeconomic, cultural, institutional, demographic, and behavioral factors, have led to a noticeable transition in both societal and governmental structures of power, as well as the way in which many Iranians have come to deal with the changing conditions of their society. This is all exacerbated by the global trend of communication and information expansion, as Iran has increasingly become the site of the burgeoning demands for women’s rights, individual freedoms, and festering tensions and conflicts over cultural politics. These realities, among other things, have rendered Iran a country of unprecedented—and at times paradoxical—changes. This book explains how and why. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Mehran Kamrava, ed., Gateways to the World: Port Cities in the Persian Gulf (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016).
The Persian Gulf region has become home to some of the world’s fastest growing, most impressive cities, many of them with global aspirations. Gateways to the World presents an in-depth, systematic, and multi-disciplinary approach to the study of these cities. It begins with a broader look at how the emergence and significance of cities along the Persian Gulf waterway should be contextualized. It then moves to historical examinations of the emergence of national borders and boundaries, how they became ‘port cities’ of various kinds, what are the semantics of studying them, and what the glittering skylines and cityscapes and their remaining traditional neighborhoods mean for the international political economy and for the identity of their residents. This book presents a comprehensive study of the nature and variety, the importance, and the domestic and international consequences of port cities along the Persian Gulf. Read more from Oxford University Press.
Mohamed Zayani, and Suzi Mirgani, eds., Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings (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.
Mehran Kamrava, 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.
Suzi Mirgani, guest ed., "Art and Cultural Production in the GCC," CIRS Special Issue of Journal of Arabian Studies 7, no. 1 (September 2017).
In an effort to explore the evolution of the art and cultural scene in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, and to understand the complexities of these fields, the Center for International and Regional Studies (CIRS) at Georgetown University in Qatar undertook a two-year research initiative titled “Art and Cultural Production in the GCC.” Artists, cultural administrators, curators, critics, and academics were invited to Doha to attend two separate meetings in which they debated topics of relevance to the GCC’s cultural field. The research culminated in the publication of original studies in a special issue of the Journal of Arabian Studies (August 2017). This project builds on the available literature by contributing towards furthering knowledge on the prevailing issues around art and cultural production in the Gulf.