The Political Economy Project (PEP) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. With this prize, PEP aims to recognize and disseminate exceptional critical work on the political economy of the Middle East. For its inaugural award, the selection committee welcomed nominations for books on political economy published between 2013-2015 from a range of publishers and across academic disciplines. After reviewing a dozen submissions, the 2016 selection committee recognizes two co-winners for their original contributions to critical political economy research:
Jamie Allinson’s The Struggle for the State in Jordan: The Social Origins of Alliances in the Middle East
Sherene Seikaly’s Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine
The Struggle for the State in Jordan: The Social Origins of Alliances in the Middle East by Jamie Allinson
Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine by Sherene Seikaly
As co-winners, each author will receive 750 US dollars and will be invited to speak at a university affiliated with PEP. Each winning author will also be interviewed by PEP’s affiliate audio journal, Status/الوضع.
A call for nominations for the 2017 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize will be issued shortly. Books published in 2016 will be eligible.
F A M A - M E S A 2 0 1 6
Thank you to all who visited the Tadween Publishing-Jadaliyya book exhibit at MESA 2016-Boston and joined us for the Arab Studies Institute’s launch of the Knowledge Production Project!
For a review of ASI's public events and affiliated panels at MESA 2016, as well as for information on the progress of ongoing Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs projects, please read the Arab Studies Institute at MESA 2016-Boston report below:
The Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs & Status/الوضع are proud to announce the official launch of Issue 3.2 on the audio journal's brand new platform! Check out the new issue here and customize your experience now: http://statushour.com/
"This holiday season, the Arab Studies Institute (ASI) is pleased to announce the official launch of its most ambitious project to date! Meet Status الوضغ Audio Magazine!! A bilingual Arabic and English audio site with interviews and programs about the region unrivaled in their depth and scope. This first 'official' issue on our spanking new interactive and fully customizable website includes twenty interviews with forty-one guests on twenty-two topics!
But first for the backstory! For a little over a year, we have been toiling away producing the beta version of Status—a quiet avalanche of media production that goes against the grain in every conceivable way! Some of you may have come across or listened to our incredible interviews with some of the most compelling artists, musicians, activists, and academics in and on the region. These are all archived by issue and searchable by topic, theme, country, and other categories for your easy perusal on the Status website.
In the tradition of Jadaliyya, Quilting Point, The Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs (FAMA),Tadween Publishing, the Knowledge Production Project (KPP) and many other programs of ASI, Status الوضع is a turning point in the way the Middle East and North Africa are being mediated, as well as a sophisticated challenge to the mainstreamed oversimplification, myopia, and dehistoricization of a region in turmoil. Status aims to do things differently by offering a unique model of online audio production that is decidedly analytical and markedly connected to the life experiences of communities in the Middle East and North Africa. Creative production and in-depth discussions about these locales have not been forged in such an amalgamated way before—particularly that which combines scholarly inquiry with local activism, the arts, and culture."
Read more at Jadaliyya: Status/الوضع Launched! A New Bilingual Audio Platform and Issue 3.2!
Join us for the launch of the Arab Studies Institute's Knowledge Production Project in Beirut, at the American University of Beirut on 6 December 2016, 5:30 pm, Boustany Hall.
Bassam Haddad will be introducing the project and the patform in BETA form and holding a discussion henceforth on its origin, nature, and function in relation to Middle East Studies and the (politics of) process of knowledge production. For more information visit Jadaliyya: Knowledge Production Project Launch in Beirut at AUB!
Join the Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs at MESA 2016! The Arab Studies Institute will hold a reception for the announcement of the Knowledge Production Project on Friday, November 18th from 9-10:30 pm in Salon D on the Fourth Floor. Be sure to also visit the Arab Studies Institute's booth at the MESA Book Bazaar (booths 14-15) to learn more about Tadween's Fall 2016 lineup and other ongoing activities. Looking forward to seeing you all there!
ASI-FAMA Public Events Schedule
ASI-Tadween Publishing Book Exhibit @ MESA 2016 Book Bazaar:
Location: Third Floor, Back Bay Conference and Exhibition Center
Booth #: 14-15
Open to Public:
4:00 pm-7:00 pm on Thursday, November 17th
8:30 am-5:30 pm on Friday, November 18th
8:30 am-5:30 pm on Saturday, November 19th
ASI-KPP Reception: Knowledge Production Project Launching Reception
Date: Friday, November 18th
Time: 9:00-10:30 pm
Location: Fourth Floor, Salon D
Knowledge Production Project Launching Reception
ASI-Tadween Publishing Book Bazaar Exhibit
The Political Economy Project @ MESA 2016
The Arab Studies Journal Volume XXIV, no. 2 Fall 2016 issue is now available for purchase! Read the following message from the editor:
"The Arab world we are accustomed to seeing is one of accumulating catastrophes, multiple wars, occupations, and unprecedented authoritarian and sectarian militarization. By all counts, the conditions of people, as varied as they may be, in places like Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Egypt, and Palestine appear to only be getting worse before, and if, they will get any better. These conditions target the very possibility of life. Yet despite these hardships and amidst the varieties of dispossession and injustice we are now witnessing, people continue to live, to create, and to love.
It is in the spirit of honoring this will to live that we present this Fall 2016 issue of Arab Studies Journal. We are proud to feature articles that explore the history of modern Assyrian and Chaldean appellations, contribute a literary analysis of Cairo in a time of intense political change and upheaval, and present a historical study of Arab nationalism in the “Trucial States.” A special section titled “Love in the Arab World” includes a rich body of ethnographic studies on compatibility and marriage in Jordan; Valentine’s Day in Egypt; and the politics of desire in post-uprising Syrian television drama. As always, we are pleased to accompany our articles with a review section that engages a number of recent contributions to the field. Together these pieces testify to the resilience of the everyday and the significance of untold stories that are perhaps best represented in the words of Mahmoud Darwish, “One day I will be what I wish to be."
Continue reading here: Arab Studies Journal Announces Fall 2016 Issue: Editor's Note and Table of Contents
To purchase and subscribe visit Tadween Publishing: Arab Studies Journal Fall 2016
FAMA and ASI at MESA 2016:
MESA Book Fair: November 17-19th, Booths 14-15
KPP Reception: Friday, November 18th at 9 pm, Floor Four-Salon D
Join the Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs, along with the entirety of the Arab Studies Institute, this year at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) in Boston, Massachusetts! Visit our exhibit at the MESA Book Fair (booths 14-15) and join us on Friday, November 18th at 9 pm for the Knowledge Production Project's Launching Reception.
For more information click here.
Jadaliyya turns six years old this fall! Read about Jadaliyya's journey and future plans here:
"When Jadaliyya published its very first articles, the seismic political shifts that would engulf the Middle East starting in late 2010 had not yet started. Once those events and their resulting transformations got under way, Jadaliyya became ideally situated to reflect, interpret, and contribute to discussions about these changes—both in the West and the Middle East. A key reason behind Jadaliyya’s rise was the ability to deliver incisive, hard-hitting, nuanced, and critical content at this crucial time, in both English and Arabic. In the few years that followed, Jadaliyya was not simply a conduit for analysis; it also became an active organic platform for the mobilized voices on the margins of public discourse. We provided one of the few spaces to question the “experts” and the growing cult that sustained them..."
Continue reading here: Jadaliyya Six Years On
Contact: Tamar Ghabin | firstname.lastname@example.org | (610) 324-7203
Arab Studies Institute Releases Pedagogical Project Re the Gaza Strip, Gaza in Context
July 2016 – Washington, DC - Israel does not have a Hamas problem, it does not have a Gaza problem, it has a Palestine problem. It has been two years since one of Israel’s most brutal attacks on the Palestinian people of Gaza in its history. Despite overwhelming evidence of the disparity of power between Israel and all Palestinians and the aggressiveness of Israel's exercise of its power, including excessive and brutal violence and collective punishment in Gaza in the form of occupation, siege, and frequent military assaults against dense and captive civilian populations, mainstream media and educational materials continue to frame Israel as the victim. This pedagogical project aims to correct the propagandistic character of mainstream media and educational coverage. Gaza in Context provides historical context, explaining Palestinian resistance, for what has been an Israeli narrative that exceptionalizes Gaza and removes it from the larger Palestinian struggle. This is an opportunity to understand the violence and Israel’s settler-colonial project.
In practice, Israel has adopted intermittent, counterinsurgency campaigns aimed at diminishing the capacity of the captive Palestinian population to militarily resist Israel’s structural violence. Conceptually, it has set Gaza apart from the rest of the Palestinian-Israel conflict so that there is no continuity between Israel’s wars waged upon it and its treatment of Palestinians throughout Israel as well as the West Bank, including East Jerusalem.
Together, the practice of systematic war and the framework of unique distinction have set the Gaza Strip apart from the question of Palestine and transformed it into a national security question. By emphasizing the role of Hamas and diminishing the question of Palestine, Israel has collapsed conditions in Gaza with asymmetric conflicts, or what has come to be known as the “global war on terror,” thus eliding the consequential distinctions between Palestinians and other non-state actors. This pedagogical project is an attempt to re-frame the issue in order to place greater emphasis on the broader question of Palestine and to explain Israel’s policy towards the Gaza Strip in that context.
A 20-minute multi-media film that combines lecture, animation, typography, and footage from Palestine is the centerpiece of the project. Its other components include a teaching guide for instructional purposes, a bibliography for research purposes, and a compendium of Jadaliyya articles featured in what we call a JadMag. All of these elements are housed on the project’s own website, which is part of a larger research project on Palestine headed by the Forum on Arab and Muslim Affairs at the Arab Studies Institute.
This interdisciplinary pedagogical project aims to resituate the question of Gaza within a broader Israeli settler-colonial framework, and it uses Israel’s most recent military onslaught, Operation Protective Edge, to do so. The release of this project coincides with the two-year anniversary of the brutal operation and aims to use the war as a teaching moment to counter Israel’s ahistorical claims that saturated the media. Gaza In Context seeks to provide an assertive framework for understanding Israel’s systemic attacks as part of the larger question of Palestine.
Operation Protective Edge, and any past or future Israeli onslaughts, should be read within this framework in order to highlight the abnormality of the Palestinian condition and to realize a viable and just alternative.
Who We Are
We are a group of academics, activists, and artists seeking to shift the narrative around the Gaza Strip and Palestine, in general. This is an Arab Studies Institute project and is one component of its Palestine Project housed by the Forum on Muslim and Arab Affairs.
Who We Want to Reach
As a pedagogical project we hope that educators, in high school and college classrooms, as well as organizers and activists use these resources to interrogate the conditions in Gaza and use them as a point of departure for understanding the question of Palestine.
The History of the Project
The idea for Gaza in Context emerged during the summer of 2014 when Israel launched its most devastating offensive on the besieged Palestinian population of the Gaza Strip to date. Despite the immense destruction wrought upon a captive population Israel successfully claimed victimhood in western media as it launched 6,000 airstrikes and 50,000 artillery shells in an air and ground offensive that lasted for 51-days. The course of the media cycle made evident the need for an assertive framework to explain Israel’s systematic wars. Specifically, to counter its defensive claims and situate its aggression within a broader settler-colonial project in Palestine.
See what people are saying about Gaza in Context:
"Gaza in Context is a superb film accompanied by an excellent teaching guide with seminal articles on the various aspects of the subject, discussion questions, reading list and bibliography. Not only does the 20- minute- film provide the essential facts necessary for an understanding of the problem it helps the viewer understand the context, history and nature of the Israeli policy that brought the Gaza Strip to where it is today. It does this without committing the common error of treating Gaza in isolation from the rest of Palestine but helps explain the consistency in the Israeli policy over the years and throughout Palestine while focusing on its implications and manifestations for Gaza. The film ends with a cri de Coeur to all of us to do what we can to bring an end to what the film convincingly argues is not a natural but a human-made disaster, and save Gaza from continuing to be a zone of death."-- Raja Shehadeh, Palestinian lawyer, novelist, political activist, affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, and a founder of the human rights organization Al-Haq.
"Gaza in Context is a fantastic educational instrument, conveying in 20 minutes what it would take most people a lifetime to learn. It gives an accurate and visually brilliant portrayal of the tragedy that has befallen not only Gaza, but the entire Palestinian people."--Dr. Richard Falk, Professor Emeritus of International law, Princeton University, former United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
"I did not think it was possible to examine in 20 minutes what Gaza in Context does with such compelling clarity: Israeli policies toward Gaza and Palestine, which are inseparable; the core problems affecting Gaza and the deliberateness of the policies that have led to Gaza's disablement; Gaza's centrality in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and some common myths surrounding Gaza and the history of the conflict overall, which are straightforwardly debunked. An immensely valuable teaching tool, the film's power also lies in its fundamental humanity, a heartfelt entreaty to end the oppression and violence so that all people in this tortured part of the world may aspire to a future in which their children can flourish."--Dr. Sara Roy, senior research scholar at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, co-chair of the Middle East Seminar, and co-chair of the Middle East Forum at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.
"Israel's deliberate fragmentation of the Palestinian people and their land for the past 70 years has also fragmented the Palestinian narrative and struggle for rights. This is just one reason why it is vital that efforts to stop and reverse Israel's colonization project adopt a holistic framework of analysis. Gaza in Context does just that: It zeroes in on Israel's repeated assaults against the besieged strip but then broadens out to show how Israel's attacks on Gaza are part of a consistent plan against the entire Palestinian people, a plan that from day one has sought to minimize the number of Palestinians in historic Palestine and maximize the number of Israeli Jews. The 20-minute film and accompanying educational materials succinctly provide the missing context in so many accounts of the conflict. It is an excellent entry point for the many thousands who are beginning to support Palestinian rights and an important refresher for others that have been involved in the movement for longer. Spread the word!" --Nadia Hijab, Executive Director, Al-Shabaka: The Palestinian Policy Network
"Gaza in Context is an excellent educational resource that places Israel’s ongoing attacks on Palestinians in Gaza in their proper political context, that of settler colonialism, resistance to such colonialism and the Palestinian struggle to stay alive. In 20 minutes, this film debunks many of the Israeli-perpetuated myths — myths that have been conveniently adopted by others — by focusing on facts. The various articles and discussion questions accompanying the film serve as essential tools for those wishing to learn more."-- Diana Buttu, Palestinian lawyer, analyst and former advisor to the PLO.
“Gaza in Context should be required viewing for everyone, including those familiar with the situation in Palestine. Powerful, informative, and persuasive, Noura Erakat delivers a fusillade of facts with concision and passion, obliterating in twenty minutes some three decades of media misinformation about Israel’s occupation of Palestine. An effective teaching tool, irrespective of one’s political position."-- Robin D. G. Kelley, Professor of History and African American Studies, UCLA
Over the course of four days, June 9th to June 12th 2016, and in conjunction with ASI and Arcadia University, the Political Economy Project held its inaugural Political Economy Summer Institute (PESI) at George Mason University. The summer institute brought together a diverse collection of scholars and graduate student fellows from around the world for a series of workshops on the foundational concerns of critical political economy, with special attention devoted to conducting research in the contemporary Middle East. The institute served not only as an overview of critical debates and fundamental concepts for student participants, but also as an opportunity for faculty participants to reflect on long-running debates and acquaint themselves with emerging research agendas.
The opening session on Marx and capital was co-led by Sayres Rudy and Max Ajl, who focused their comments on Marx’s early works confronting the tradition of German Idealism and setting the foundation for his critique of capitalism. In the following session on the political economy of the environment, James Boyce outlined the premises of ecological economics and a critique of the concept of efficiency, sensitive to development’s relationship with environmental degradation. In day one’s final session on class formation, Adam Hanieh complicated our historical and theoretical understanding of class identity by incorporating race and gender-based critiques.
Day two began with George DeMartino’s critique of neoclassical economics, in which he challenged the economic discipline’s claim to scientific neutrality and argued for a professional ethics that takes “econogenic” harm seriously. Afterward in a session on world systems theory, Dale Tomich used his research on sugar and slave labor regimes in Martinique to demonstrate how concrete analysis must engage with models of the capitalist world system. Concluding day two with a session on imperialism, William Robinson outlined the evolution of Vladimir Lenin and Rosa Luxemburg’s classical theories before moving the group into a heated discussion of the relative power of states versus transnational economic actors.
Sandra Halperin kicked off day three with a session on state formation, wherein she questioned the concept of the nation state in narratives of the emergence of capitalism and pro-offered a horizontal mode of analysis that privileges the role of transnational elites in shaping state structures. In the next session on labor, Karen Pfeifer pointed to the role of historical contingency in the evolution of capitalism and the importance of dialectical materialism to understanding the role of labor. In the final session on peasants and the rural economy, Andrew Zimmerman invited us to think of contemporary wage laborers as subject to processes of peasantization, troubling our binary constructions of local vs. global production and the workplace vs. the household.
The final day was reserved for presentations by each of the student fellows on their current research projects, followed by a conversation with the faculty and PEP members. Claudie Fioroni discussed the effects of privatization on workers in Jordan’s phosphate sector. In light of Lebanon’s policy against formal refugee camps for Syrians, China Sajadian presented on emerging property relations and migration patterns in the Beqaa Valley. Artemis Kubala’s case study of stone quarries in the West Bank emphasized the industry’s role in normalizing the occupation. Focusing on Ramallah, Salim Abuthaher discussed post-Oslo Accord urban design practices and their relationship with socioeconomic segregation in Palestine. Boian Boianov contrasted contemporary water scarcity issues in Oman with ancient aflaj irrigation systems. In his study of sanitary infrastructures in Cairo, Mohammed Rafi Arefin elucidated the role that waste collection plays in uneven urban development. Ethan Morton Jerome’s research addressed the issue of Palestinians working on Israeli settlements and the tension between workplace conditions and resisting the occupation. Concluding the student presentations, Lana Salman analyzed the widespread expansion of municipalities as governing units across Tunisia, and how this impacts the dynamics of land commodification.
In addition to the formal sessions and student presentations, the institute sponsored three lively group dinners and screened a documentary film on the 2011 uprising in Yemen entitled “Karama Has No Walls.” John Warner introduced the film by leading a background discussion on Yemen’s current conflict.
The reading lists produced by the faculty session leaders represent an excellent compendium of basic texts and citations in the tradition of critical political economy. Therefore, we are working on compiling a public PESI reading list in coordination with PEP’s annotated bibliography project. Looking forward, we are collecting feedback from this year’s participants and have already started planning for the 2017 workshop. Overall, the inaugural Political Economy Summer Institute was an overwhelming success.
Forum on Muslim and Arab Affairs
FAMA is the research arm of the Arab Studies Institute.