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Middle East Studies Association (MESA)

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Middle East Studies Books

Divine Money

Islam, Zakat, and Giving in Palestine

by Emanuel Schaeublin

Zakat giving or mutual aid is a sacred practice in Islam. Where government and public safety nets fail, zakat serves as a form of social security in Muslim communities. In Divine Money, Emanuel Schaeublin shows how zakat institutions and direct zakat donations function in contemporary Palestine.

Based on his ethnographic fieldwork in the city of Nablus, Schaeublin traces zakat flows as they provide critical support to households living under military rule and security surveillance. In the neighborhoods of Nablus, the Islamic tradition shapes public life. Many enact simple gifts of money of food as an expression of God's generosity and justice. How do such invocations of the divine enable people to negotiate responsibilities and tensions arising from differences in wealth in Palestinian society? What is the role of zakat in confronting political repression and economic instability?

Jacqueline Kahanoff

A Levantine Woman

by David Ohana

Jacqueline Kahanoff: A Levantine Woman is the first intellectual biography of this remarkable Egyptian-Jewish intellectual, whose work has secured her place in literary pantheon as a herald of Levantine, Mediterranean, and transnational culture. Growing up Jewish in cosmopolitan Egypt in the 1920s and 1930s, Jacqueline Kahanoff experienced a bustling Middle East enriched by diverse languages, religions, and peoples who nonetheless were deeply connected to each other through history, business, daily practices, and shared landscape.

At the age of twenty-four, Kahanoff immigrated to the United States. Her stories, essays, and short autobiographical novel attest to her penchant to cross boundaries, generations, social classes, sexes, and Western and Eastern constructs. After immigrating to Israel in the early 1950s, she critically addressed the country's "provinciality" and "ethnic nationalism" as seen through her conception of a transnational Levantine culture. Through many writings, Kahanoff set forth her distinctive vision of Israel as a Mediterranean country with a broad, multicultural Levantine identity.

Drawing on an extensive array of sources, ranging from interviews with Jacqueline Kahanoff's acquaintances and contemporaries to unpublished writings, David Ohana explores her fascinating life and intellectual journey from Cairo to Tel Aviv. The encompassing vision of a Levantine Israel made Kahanoff the initiator of a different cultural possibility, more extensive than that offered in her time, and also, perhaps, than is offered today.

Fantasmic Objects
Art and Sociality from Lebanon, 1920–1950

by Kirsten L. Scheid

In Lebanon, the study of modern art—rather than power or hierarchy—has compelled citizens to confront how they define themselves as a postcolonial nation.

In Fantasmic Objects, Kirsten L. Scheid offers a striking study of both modern art in Lebanon and modern Lebanon through art. By focusing on the careers of Moustapha Farrouk and Omar Onsi, forefathers of an iconic national repertoire, and their rebellious student Saloua Raouda Choucair, founder of an antirepresentational, participatory art, Scheid traces an emerging sense of what it means to be Lebanese through the evolution of new exhibition, pedagogical, and art-writing practices. She reveals that art and artists helped found the nation during the French occupation, as the formal qualities and international exhibitions of nudes and landscapes in the 1930s crystallized notions of modern masculinity, patriotic femininity, non-sectarian religiosity, and citizenship.

Examining the efforts of painters, sculptors, and activists in Lebanon who fiercely upheld aesthetic development and battled for new forms of political being, Fantasmic Objects offers an insightful approach to the history and formation of modern Lebanon.

Portraits of Empires

Habsburg Albums from the German House in Ottoman Constantinople

by Robyn Dora Radway

In the late 16th century, hundreds of travelers made their way to the Habsburg ambassador's residence, known as the German House, in Constantinople. In this centrally located inn, subjects of the emperor found food, wine, shelter, and good company—and left an incredible collection of albums filled with images, messages, decorated papers, and more.

Portraits of Empires offers a complete account of this early form of social media, which had a profound impact on later European iconography. Revealing a vibrant transimperial culture as viewed from all walks of life—Muslim and Christian, noble and servant, scholar and stable boy—the pocket-sized albums containing these curiosities have never been fully connected to the abundant archival records on the German House and its residents. Robyn Dora Radway not only introduces these objects, the people who filled their pages, and the house at the center of their creation, but she also presents several arguments regarding chronologies of exchange, workshop practices, the curation of social networks and visual collections based on status, and the purposes of these highly individualized material portraits.

Featuring 162 fascinating color images, Portraits of Empires reconstructs the world of Habsburg subjects living in Ottoman Constantinople using a rich and distinctive set of objects to raise questions about imperial belonging and the artistic practices used to articulate it.

Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021

by Elizabeth M. Perego

In times of peace as well as conflict, humor has served Algerians as a tool of both unification and division. Humor has also assisted Algerians of various backgrounds and ideological leanings with engaging critically in power struggles throughout the country's contemporary history. By analyzing comedic discourse in various forms (including plays, jokes, and cartoons), Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021 demonstrates the globally informed and creative ways that civilians have made sense of moments of victory and loss through humor. Using oral interviews and media archives in Arabic, French, and Tamazight, Elizabeth M. Perego expands on theoretical debates about humor as a tool of resistance and explores the importance of humor as an instrument of war, peace, and social memory, as well as a source for retracing volatile, contested pasts.

Humor and Power in Algeria, 1920 to 2021 reveals how Algerians have harnessed humor to express competing visions for unity in a divided colonial society, to channel and process emotions surrounding a brutal war of decolonization and the forging of a new nation, and to demonstrate resilience in the face of a terrifying civil conflict.

The Politics of Crisis-Making

Forced Displacement and Cultures of Assistance in Lebanon

by Estella Carpi

Traditionally, humanitarianism is considered a nonpolitical urgent response to human suffering. However, this characterization ignores the politics that create and are created by the crises and the increasingly long-term dimension of relief.

In The Politics of Crisis-Making, by shedding light on how humanitarian practice becomes enmeshed with diverse forms of welfare and development, Estella Carpi exposes how the politics of defining crises affect the social identity and membership of the displaced. Her ethnographic research in Lebanon brings to light interactions among aid workers, government officials, internally displaced citizens, migrants, and refugees after the 2006 war in Beirut's southern suburbs and during the 2011-2013 arrival of refugees from Syria to the Akkar District (northern Lebanon). By documenting different cultures, modalities, and traditions of assistance, Carpi offers a full account of how the politics of crisis-making play out in Lebanon.

An important read, The Politics of Crisis-Making shows that it is not crisis per se, but rather the crisis as official discourse and management that are able to reshuffle societies, while engendering unequal political, moral, and nationality-based economies.

Reorienting the Middle East

Film and Digital Media Where the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean Meet

Edited by Dale Hudson and Alia Yunis

Contributions by Nelida FuccaroFirat OrucAmmar Al AttarBindu MenonParisa VaziriSebastian Thejus CherianKarolina GinalskaKay DickinsonSuzi MirganiChrysavgi PapagianniSean FoleyElizabeth DerderianSascha RitterDale Hudson and Alia Yunis

Stories of desert landscapes, cutting-edge production facilities, and lavish festivals often dominate narratives about film and digital media on the Arabian Peninsula. However, there is a more complicated history that reflects long-standing interconnections between the Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, and Indian Ocean. Just as these waters are fluid spaces, so too is the flow of film and digital media between cultures in East Africa, Europe, North Africa, South Asia, Southwest Asia, and Southeast Asia.

Reorienting the Middle East examines past and contemporary aspects of film and digital media in the Gulf that might not otherwise be apparent in dominant frameworks. Contributors consider oil companies that brought film exhibition to this area in the 1930s, the first Indian film produced on the Arabian Peninsula in the late 1970s, blackness in Iranian films, the role of Western funding in reshaping stories, Dubai's emergence in global film production, uses of online platforms for performance art, the development of film festivals and cinemas, and short films made by citizens and migrants that turn a lens on racism, sexism, national identity, and other rarely discussed social issues.

Reorienting the Middle East offers new methods to analyze the often-neglected littoral spaces between nation-states and regions and to understand the role of film and digital media in shaping dialogue between area studies and film and media studies. Readers will find new pathways to rethink the limitations of dominant categories and frameworks in both fields.

Edited by Siobhan Lambert-HurleyDaniel Majchrowicz and Sunil Sharma

Contributions by Asiya AlamAndrew AmstutzC. Ceyhun ArslanDavid BoykGreg HalabyHans HarderMegan Robin HewittNurten Kilic-Schubel and Roberta Micallef

When thinking of intrepid travelers from past centuries, we don't usually put Muslim women at the top of the list. And yet, the stunning firsthand accounts in this collection completely upend preconceived notions of who was exploring the world.

Editors Siobhan Lambert-Hurley, Daniel Majchrowicz, and Sunil Sharma recover, translate, annotate, and provide historical and cultural context for the 17th- to 20th-century writings of Muslim women travelers in ten different languages. Queens and captives, pilgrims and provocateurs, these women are diverse. Their connection to Islam is wide-ranging as well, from the devout to those who distanced themselves from religion. What unites these adventurers is a concern for other women they encounter, their willingness to record their experiences, and the constant thoughts they cast homeward even as they traveled a world that was not always prepared to welcome them.

Perfect for readers interested in gender, Islam, travel writing, and global history, Three Centuries of Travel Writing by Muslim Women provides invaluable insight into how these daring women experienced the world—in their own voices.

IU Press Journals

The Journal of Education in Muslim Societies (JEMS) is a semiannual, peer-reviewed journal published in partnership with the International Institute of Islamic Thought and Indiana University Press. JEMS encourages work on a wide range of topics pertinent to the education sector including but not limited to pedagogies, teacher practices, leadership, and policy as it relates to the conditions and status of education in Muslim societies and communities. The guiding premise of the Journal is that education serves more than just the acquisition of knowledge and skills but the enhancement of the holistic aspects of individuals and societies. JEMS seeks manuscripts in subject areas such as comparative education, youth and youth development, curriculum reform, early childhood education, higher education, as well as others. The journal has no disciplinary or methodological bias.

All manuscripts are subjected to a double-blind peer-review process prior to acceptance and publication.


The Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies (JIMS) is a double-blind, peer-reviewed multidisciplinary academic journal sponsored by the North American Association of Islamic and Muslim Studies (NAAIMS). Published semiannually (May and November), JIMS is dedicated to expanding a repertoire of scholarship on Muslim societies and Islam as a religion and civilization. Its purpose is to forward the field of Islamic and Muslim studies more broadly, and to make contributions to its represented disciplines in advancing theories, epistemologies, pedagogies, and methods. Each issue consists of the following five sections which disseminate knowledge through the interdisciplinary lens of the social sciences and humanities: Articles, Book Reviews, Film Reviews, Discussion and Debate Forum, and Conference Reports.

The Journal of Muslim Philanthropy & Civil Society is a biannual, peer-reviewed, open access journal that focuses on the broad scope of Muslim philanthropy and civil society. The terms “Muslim” and “philanthropy” are defined broadly to be inclusive of cutting-edge research from across the world and disciplines, and the journal’s editorial focus is to showcase the dynamic practice and understanding of Muslim prosocial action. The journal seeks original academic research examining Muslim nonprofit, philanthropic, and voluntary action and provides a forum for researchers to publish timely articles from a variety of disciplinary perspectives.

The Journal of Muslim Philanthropy & Civil Society is sponsored by the Center on Muslim Philanthropy and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy at Indiana University Purdue University at Indianapolis.

Mande Studies

Mande Studies: The Journal of the Mande Studies Association is an interdisciplinary journal publishing original research that focuses on the Mande-speaking peoples of West Africa and the Mande community in diaspora, from slavery to the post-colony. We welcome articles in the social sciences and the humanities including, but not limited to: history, art history, archeology, sociology, and public health. Articles may range from the precolonial period to the present.

Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association

Founded in 1976 (as the Turkish Studies Association Bulletin), each issue of the Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association contains the latest scholarship on the Ottoman Empire and the Republic of Turkey, and includes state of the field essays, book reviews and review articles that examine the wide-ranging studies that cross-disciplinary, national, ethnic, imperial, periodized, religious, geographic, and linguistic boundaries and take as their focus the diversity of peoples, influences, approaches, times, and regions that make up the Turkish and former Ottoman worlds.

The Journal of Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association is published semiannually by the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association.

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