Year: 2016

America’s Dream Palace: Middle East Expertise and the Rise of the National Security State

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By: Osamah F. Khalil

Volume: 4 Issue: 12

December 2016

Review by:

Rolin G. Mainuddin, PhD

North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

The legendary Thomas Edward Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”), a British classical scholar, remarked in his Seven Pillars of Wisdom that he hoped to inspire a “dream-palace” of “national thoughts” for the Semitic people. In taking that cue from Lawrence, Osamah Khalil names his book America’s Dream Palace. Alfred Mahan identified British imperial interest with West Asia and South Asia in referring to the region as the “Middle East.” The Middle East became coterminous with cold…

The Middle East: New Order or Disorder?

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By: Mohammed Aman
Mary Jo Aman , Editor

Volume: 4 Issue: 12

December 2016

Review by:

Marwa Fikry Abdel Samei, PhD

Cairo University

Cairo, Egypt

Six years after the first spark of the Arab uprisings, the region’s future cannot be any more uncertain. With the possible exception of Tunisia, post-revolutionary Arab countries have failed in democratization, to either plunge in civil wars, or incredibly retrograde to authoritarianism. Aman and Aman’s The Middle East: New Order or Disorder? addresses the “varied political, social issues and security issues facing the countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) and the deteriorating…

Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam

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By: Richard C. Martin
Abbas Barzegar , Editor

Volume: 4 Issue: 12

December 2016

Review by:

Justin D. Leach, PhD

Troy University

Washington, D.C.

Islamism: Contested Perspectives on Political Islam presents itself as a meditation on the very term “Islamism”, reviewing the baggage and restrictions said to be associated with the word in order to determine what alternatives may be available for describing the political dimensions of Islam. Donald K. Emmerson and Daniel M. Varisco are the principle essayists and their arguments – in favor of and against usage of the term respectively –  dominate the book’s content and…

Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan

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By: Sarah A. Tobin

Volume: 4 Issue: 12

December 2016

Review by:

Claire Oueslati-Porter, PhD

University of Miami

Coral Gables, FL

Sarah Tobin’s Everyday Piety: Islam and Economy in Jordan combines ethnographic artistry with astute theoretical analysis.  Tobin participant observes as a bank teller in Jordan’s Islamic banks, she studies at Jordanian universities, and she socializes with Jordanian women in the modern shopping malls and cafes of West Amman. Throughout her book, she seeks answers to the question that was omnipresent among the cosmopolitan Ammanis with whom she conducted this research: “What is the real Islam?”…

Youth and Education in the Middle East: Shaping Identity and Politics in Jordan.

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By: Daniele Cantini

Volume: 4 Issue: 11

November 2016

Review by:

Sadiq Alabbas, ABD

University of Nebraska at Omaha

Omaha, NE

Youth and Education in the Middle East: Shaping Identity and Politics in Jordan is a theoretically sophisticated ethnography of higher education in the Middle East and its contradictions. It focuses on the University of Jordan as a site for modernity by addressing crucial issues; including global policy initiatives, student lives, campus activism, and the gendered challenge of the labor market. Daniele Cantini provides an introduction entitled “youth and education in Jordan” where he describes the…

Saudi Clerics and Shi’a Islam

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By: Raihan Ismail

Volume: 4 Issue: 11

November 2016

Review by:

Christopher Anzalone, ABD

Belfer Center for Science & International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Cambridge, MA

The theological disputes over “true Islam” between Salafi Sunnis and Shi’i Muslims, once an obscure issue of interest only to specialists and academics, has entered the mainstream consciousness of Western media and general audiences, thanks in large part to the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Syria.  The 2003 U.S. and British-led coalition invasion and subsequent occupation of Iraq following the toppling of the Iraqi Ba’th Party government of Saddam Hussein, marked the beginning of Western…

Revolutionary Guards in Iranian Politics: Elites and Shifting Relations.

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By: Bayram Sinkaya

Volume: 4 Issue: 11

November 2016

Review by:

Christopher Anzalone, ABD

Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Cambridge, MA

The Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) has long been one of Iran’s preeminent and most powerful military organizations, tasked with safeguarding the country’s “Islamic revolution” and revolutionary republic from enemies both at home and abroad.  Founded in late 1979 by the order of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini , the IRGC provides the Iranian government with a capable external operations network through the Quds Force, currently commanded by General Qasim Soleimani, and internal security apparatus together with…

Social Media in Iran: Politics and Society after 2009

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By: David M. Faris
Babak Rahimi , Editor

Volume: 4 Issue: 11

November 2016

Review by:

Rolin G. Mainuddin, PhD

North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

Given its accepted network role, what is the state of social media in Iran? David Faris and Babak Rahimi brought together a diverse group of contributors to address that question with attention to the 2009 presidential elections. Not anticipating the promotion of collective action, the editors are sanguine about the social media facilitating dissent—what Nancy Fraser called “counterpublics.” Focusing on the experiential and networking processes, Faris and Rahimi explore three theoretical perspectives: globalization, networked communities,…

Whether to Kill: The Cognitive Maps of Violent and Nonviolent Individuals

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By: Stephanie Dornschneider

Volume: 4 Issue: 10

October 2016

Review by:

Rolin G. Mainuddin, PhD

North Carolina Central University

Durham, NC

Why do people take up arms? How do individuals with violent and nonviolent behaviors arrive at their decisions to act? In bringing back the cognitive mapping approach (CMA) by Robert Axelrod, Stephanie Dornschneider takes a political psychology perspective in addressing these questions through an examination of beliefs (factors) and systems of beliefs (mechanisms) for decisions of political activism. The book is divided into six chapters: CMA, research design, group history, cognitive map construction process, computational…

Iranian Jews in Israel: Between Persian Cultural Identity and Israeli Nationalism

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By: Alessandra Cecolin

Volume: 4 Issue: 10

October 2016

Review by:

Michal L. Allon, PhD

Tel Aviv University

Tel Aviv, Israel

Alessandra Cecolin’s book, Iranian Jews in Israel: Between Persian Cultural Identity and Israeli Nationalism, is a socio-political analysis of two waves of emigration of Iranian Jews, and the challenges of their integration in Israeli society. The first wave of Jewish immigrants left Iran and came to Israel in the late 1940s and the early 1950s, shortly after the establishment of the state. The second wave was a reaction to the Islamic revolution of 1979, when…

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