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إسرائيل الثقافة نوشيروان مصطفى: تاريخ مكتوب بدماء The Master Plans of Baghdad: Notes on GIS-Based Spatial History رسالة إلى كامو Media on Media Roundup
[AKP supporters at a rally following the July 2016 coup attempt. Image via Wikimedia Commons.]

Paradoxes of ‘New Turkey’

“New Turkey” has become since 2014 a popular slogan employed by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) to express its political project of remaking the nation. However, it has been in a political abyss since the parliamentary elections on ...

[Highway view of the National Archives building. Image by author]

Finding Your Way Around Tehran's Public Archives

Going to archives in Iran—the capital specifically—remains obscure to a great number of PhD students and researchers based outside of the country. Often, senior academics from whom students seek advice have not been to Iran’s archives for ...

[Image from Wikipedia.]

Yemen's War [Ongoing Post]

[This is an ongoing post that will be updated regularly. It was first published on 6 December 2016. The updates appear at the bottom.] The conflict in Yemen seems set to intensify as 2016 draws to a close. The deposed president Abd ...

[نوشيروان مصطفى. الصورة من ويكيبيديا]

نوشيروان مصطفى: تاريخ مكتوب بدماء الضحايا

مات نوشيروان مصطفى (١٩٤٤-٢٠١٧) الذي كان نائباً للسكرتير العام للاتحاد الوطني الكردستاني، ومن ثم أسّس حركة التغيير «گوران». وبموته تطوى صفحة أخرى من صفحات الجريمة التي كتبت بدماء الضحايا، فكانت عرضة للتجاهل والنسيان!  موته يفضح دنس ...

The Story of Accountability So Far, At Home and Abroad: Time to Turn a New Page?

[Image from unknown archive]

The ACLU’s Supreme Court challenge to the lower court decision dismissing a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Data Plan Inc. (about Jeppesen’s complicity in extraordinary rendition) provides a welcome opportunity for several branches of the U.S. government to build a culture of responsibility, alongside private company Jeppesen, for actions undertaken in the “War on Terror”. The federal government could start to move towards accountability by refusing to intervene in the Supreme Court, as it did in the lower court, to argue that the case should be dismissed on “state secrets” grounds. The “state secrets” doctrine violates the separation of powers, ...

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Liberal Elite Discourse and the "Realities" of Jordan


For over a decade now, a diverse array of English-language publications have emerged in Jordan, which in turn have reflected and facilitated discussions amongst the country’s liberal elite circles. Despite a diversity of specializations as well as differences in readership, these publications, which include magazines and blogs, have coalesced around a dominant narrative about contemporary dynamics in Jordan. This narrative, which I refer to as the liberal elite discourse, positions Jordan (its government and society) as moving towards modernity through the implementation of neo-liberal economic reforms and the expansion of the parameters of permissible speech. In ...

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On Representational Paralysis, Or, Why I Don't Want to Write About Temporary Marriage

[Image from unknown archive]

For the past few years, I have been working with a colleague on a collaborative project about leisure in the southern suburb of Beirut. Along the way, there was a moment when we thought that new ideas about temporary marriage among Shi‘i Muslim youth would be a significant part of it. We eventually abandoned that possibility, for reasons that included changes in our primary interests and the difficulties of interviewing young people about what remains for the most part a socially stigmatized practice in Lebanon. But the most powerful reason impacting our decision to write less about temporary marriage has to do with our hesitance to contribute to an ...

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The American Granddaughter (A Review)

[Cover of the English version of The American Granddaughter, image from Bloomsbury Qatar Foundation website]

Many Iraqis returned to their country after the American invasion in 2003 as members of the entourage that accompanied the invading army and helped it administer its occupation. Some of them were translators recruited by companies back in the US where they were living either as refugees, residents, or Iraqi-American citizens. Some bought into the “liberation” narrative and believed they were helping the old country get back on its feet. Others were simply in it for the six-figure salary. Zina, the protagonist of In`am Kachachi’s second novel, al-Hafida al-Amrikiyya (Dar al-Jadid, 2008), short listed for the 2009 International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF or “The Arabic ...

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It Is Raining Documents, Hallelujah!

[Image from Pirhayati]

Today’s document dump of over 250,000 US diplomatic cables, courtesy of WikiLeaks, is like Santa Claus came early. These confidential cables were exchanged between 250 US embassies and the State Department, a handful dating back to the 1960s and 1970s but most from the last few years. They contain harsh and diplomatically embarrassing assessments of foreign leaders, information about diplomatic arm twisting and bargaining, and under-the-wire politics such as the request by the Saudi regime for the US to bomb Iran. Twitter is aflutter with links to various cables, and Facebook is flush with commentaries on the revelations. Good times! The readers of Jadaliyya might ...

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Celebrating Illiberal Liberalism: The Egyptian Elections (Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections-Part 2)

[Police arresting an activist in an election rally. Image from unknown archive]

In Part 1 we saw some of the salient features of the story that punctuate Election representation and politics in Egypt. This narrative presumes that the ruling regime is conspiring to reduce the Brotherhood’s share in the parliament form 88 seats to maybe 15, and divide the rest between itself and the “official opposition parties,” especially the Wafd (for a plethora of reasons that were detailed in Part 1). Only two days ago, Al-Youm Al-Saibi’ estimated that regime will take away 61 seats from the Brotherhood, 33 of which it will supposedly give to the Wafd and 7 to the Naserites (both the main party and Karama), keeping most of the what remains to itself. Noteworthy ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 1)

[Image from, well,]

[This post will probably burst the sweet (though serious) bubble generated by Lisa’s semi-comical/semi-sad post below. So toggle back and forth to withstand the dryness here.]  Beneath the surface and behind the scenes, though smack in the middle of consequential developments, we are witnessing the slow but steady emergence of a new and increasingly fortified nexus of power between the political and economic elite in much of the Arab world. Far deeper than the everyday talk about the “marriage of power and money” in countries like Egypt and Syria, this intersection is driven less by state officials and businesspeople trying to maximize profit, or even simply ...

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Lordy, Lordy, I Declare! Big Brother Is in My Underwear

[Junk inspection at an American Airport. Image from AP.]

If you are traveling by air in the United States, your “junk” will be inspected visually or manually by agents working for the Transportation Security Agency. Junk is hipster code for your butt, although it doesn’t discriminate against your balls and/or breasts. Non-hipsters learned the term when a traveler named John Tyner used his cell phone to record his own physical pat-down, during which he balked at the professional groping and said, “If you touch my junk, I’m going to have you arrested.” Tyner’s confrontation with TSA agents didn’t go well for his travel plans, but his video went viral and made him the new symbol of “don’t tread on me” resistance to governmental ...

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Choking Mecca in the Name of Beauty — and Development (Part 2)

[Open quarters at the Grand Mosque in Mecca, across from Jabal Shamiyya Construction project. Image from author's archive]

Mecca During the Hajj  As the annual hajj draws to a close, millions of Muslim pilgrims in Mecca celebrate the four-day Eid al Adha together ritually, festively, and with a jubilant spirit of giving. They will pray, eat, and spend time with loved ones. Those who can afford it will give alms to the less fortunate. Most will resist the temptations of sleep in order to enjoy every remaining hour they have in the holiest of all Muslim places. Thousands of medical doctors and nurses flown in from the world over to run the temporary hospitals, clinics, and medical facilities for the month of hajj will begin returning to their everyday jobs. An even larger number of Asian ...

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Mubarak's "Mubarak?" (Part 3)

[President Hosni Mubarak's sons Alaa (right) and Gamal (left) attend the 2010 World Cup qualifying playoff soccer match between Egypt and Algeria in Khartoum, November 18, 2009. Image from Reuters]

[Note: This is the third in a series of posts titled “Mubarak’s “Mubarak?”” Click here to view the first post and here for the second post in the series] In my last post I argued that there are some signs that individuals within the opposition are starting to believe that Mohammed ElBaradei’s initiative to offer an alternative to Egypt’s de facto royal family is not working. Since then, ElBaradei announced that he is no longer attempting to run for the presidency, conceding what everybody has known for quite some time: the next president will come from the ruling National Democratic Party (NDP). Since his return to Egypt, the regime never gave him a chance—for obvious ...

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Review: The Burden of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict 2010 Report, Adva Center

[Image from]

The Adva Center, an Israeli think tank dedicated to studying equality and social justice, recently published its second issue of a bi-annual report entitled, The Burden of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. The report seeks to examine the costs of occupation on Israel in economic, social, military, political, and diplomatic terms and concludes that Israel would be richer socially and economically if it ended the occupation. In its own words,  The prolonged conflict with the Palestinians undermines sustainable economic growth, burdens the budget, limits social development, absorbs most of the energies of the political leadership, calls into question the ...

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عدمية فيض المعنى عند الإسلاميين [The Nihilism of Excess Meaning Among Islamists]


صعدت فكرة العدمية في أوربا الغربية في القرن التاسع عشر كأثر مباشر للحداثة وتقدم العلوم والعلمانية. وبمجموعها أقصت هذه العمليات الأسرار والأشباح والقوى المتعالية من مفهومها للعالم، السيرورة التي سيسميها ماكس فيبر "نزع السحر عن وجه العالم". لقد برز عالم جديد غير مكفول إلهيا. بل إن "الله مات" كما قرر نيتشه. وسيبدو هذا العالم الذي هجرته الأرواح والأشباح منظما وحسن الإضاءة، لكن معوزا للمعنى بصورة جذرية. وقد أخذ الإنسان يقف في عالم انسحب منه الإله أمام خبرة موته دونما عزاء. وبعد أن كان الدين الموحى يتكفل بنسبنة الموت، بل بإماتته، انفلت هذا الآن حدا مطلقا، عدما قاسيا، ساخرا، غير قابل للاختزال أو التخفيف. مات الله فعاش الموت. وستغدو الحياة ثمينة وبلا معنى في ...

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Howl [Gone to Palestine: 4]

Howl Considering the fact that our literature workshop at Birzeit almost didn’t take place at all, it was a real success. We’d applied for a grant to teach a workshop to Palestinian university students through a fund administered by the US Department of Education and the State Department’s Public Diplomacy program. Despite the contacts that the consul in East Jerusalem had set up with our colleagues at Birzeit, we had a difficult time making arrangements. The department chair was away for the summer and ...

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A Legal Guide to Being a Lebanese Woman (Part 1)

For the past four years I have been researching the histories and the applications of the Lebanese legal system. An understanding of this legal system, which is the architecture of the Lebanese state, has been vital to my dissertation. I have spent thousands of hours poring over legal texts and legal histories, putting together the puzzle of how, when, and why laws are promulgated, amended, and put into practice in Lebanon. I have met with countless lawyers, judges, plaintiffs, clerks, and ...

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Mardomi-Nejad VS. The Greens: Iran's Political Struggle Captured in Election Posters

Iran’s hotly contested 2009 presidential elections and its tumultuous aftermath have been a source for numerous op-eds, policy speeches, and activist events from Tehran to New York and everywhere in between--to this day. The mass protests and violence that followed the announcement of Ahmadinejad’ s victory overtook the several weeks of campaigning that preceded the June 12 elections that brought 85% of the electorate to the ballot boxes.  One of the vehicles for expressing the platforms of ...

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Neoliberal Pregnancy and Zero-Sum Elitism in the Arab World (Part 2)

In the first post (here) I introduced the topic of the new Arab elitism, or, more accurately, the emerging nexus of power between the political and economic elite. In the next post (sorry about posting another series) I'll discuss ways to pursue research on the topic. But below I will start by debunking some anticipated counterclaims regarding this phenomenon, particularly the claim that some on the left assert--ironically. The new elitism that is sweeping the Arab world deserves close ...

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Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections (Part 3)

[See Part 1 here and Part 2 here] The way to critique the Wafd As per the rules of our méconnaissance, most, critical analysts tend to critique the Wafd for whitewashing a brutally rigged election only. That is to say, they limit the problem of the Wafd’s participation to normalizing false elections. So, while the Wafd is committing a mistake, it remains a victim of rigging, nonetheless—as if it were like the Brotherhood or Karama. For some reason no one wants to say that the Wafd, and its siblings, ...

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ماذا تفعل الأنظمة المزورة في يوم الانتخابات؟ [What Will Forging Regimes Do on Election Day?]

علمتنا التجارب التي مررنا بها، وكذلك تجارب الدول الأخرى، أن الأنظمة المستبدة عامة ما تتعامل مع يوم الانتخابات بشكل شبه نمطي. وأظنكم تعرفون جميعا جوهر هذا التعامل من واقع خبراتكم الطويلة به، والذي يعتمد على آليات تزوير محددة باتت مكررة مثل "اللبانة الممضوغجة،" مثل تسويد بطاقات الاقتراع، وتزوير بطاقات الانتخاب، وتقفيل الصناديق، والتلاعب بالنتائج، وغير ذلك مما تعرفونه جيدا. لكن الأنظمة المزورة تواجه خطرين آخرين عليها أن تتعامل معاهما ببعض الحنكة ليس فقط في ذلك اليوم وإنما في الفترة السابقة عليه ...

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Lessons in Morphology [Gone to Palestine: 3]

It was a strange but mutually beneficial arrangement. I needed to travel north through a number of checkpoints to visit a town that had borne the brunt of the occupation and I needed to get back to Ramallah at a decent hour so as to see friends before I left the next day. They had a service taxi for hire, but little business and few customers. I hired the taxi for a day, and the driver asked if his best friend and his best friend’s son could come along. I said, “The more the merrier.” As we left ...

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Rigging The Egyptian Elections: The Organizing Narrative (Why The Wafd Has To Participate In The Upcoming Elections-Part 1)

On 17 September, a number of opposition movements organized a “youth” protest in front of the headquarters of the Wafd Party (the old liberals) to persuade it to boycott the upcoming parliamentary elections. The protest was set to coincide with the Wafd’s general assembly meeting that gathered to determine the party’s position on the elections. The protestors chanted slogans against taking part in the upcoming “charade of elections,” threatening the party that participating in these elections would ...

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Jaffa, with Jellyfish [Gone to Palestine: 2]

We decided to walk around the old Arab city of Jaffa, which Rachel described as “a lanced boil on Tel Aviv’s thigh.” It was a hot July day, and we were happy to take a walk after our leisurely lunch on Sheinkin St. We asked to be seated as far away from the door as possible, and preferably behind one of the concrete pillars. Though my companion told me that I had no reason to worry nowadays, I was incredibly nervous about the possibility of exploding people. I had the gazpacho and yam ...

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حاضرون غائبون: الفلسطينيون في الداخل [Present Absent: Palestinians in Israel (Part 2)]

 حاضرون غائبون: الفلسطينيون في الداخل(٢)  كنا نمشي بمحاذاة الشاطئ اليافاوي وقد أدرنا ظهرنا لتل ابيب. وجهتنا يافا والفنادق الفاخرة تمتد على يسارنا وكأنها أسود رابضة. خلفها كان يقع حي المنشية الذي ولد فيه ابو حسن. لا يعرف ابو حسن الحي جيداً حيث  كان قد أكمل سنواته الخمس الأولى عندما غافلته النكبة. لكنه يتحدث عن الحي وكأنه قضى كل شبابه فيه.  ” اصبحت الصباحات بائسة فأنت لا تعرف من سيأتي للعب من رفاقك في اليوم التالي ومن سيذهب إلى الغيب. أراد أبي الرحيل وقال لأمي بأنه علينا ...

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Conquering The Sky [Gone to Palestine: 1]

[The first installment of Gone to Palestine]     When we arrived at Ben Gurion, we were immediately overcome by strange emotions that affected us in different ways. This was partly because we didn’t know what to expect, partly because we knew they were turning so many people away at the airport these days. Some tensed up and practiced their stories. Others seemed to be meditating and relaxing as they waited in line for the initial conversation, then for the secondary questions and ...

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Thanksgiving In Beirut

On November 24, people from across the United States will gather with family and friends to celebrate Thanksgiving. They will travel (on the busiest travel day of the year), they will eat turkey and pumpkin pie, and they will shop at the orgiastic sales that are a fixture of what is perhaps the most widely celebrated holiday in the USA. Like all ideologically inflected nationalist myths, holidays such as Thanksgiving or Columbus Day both commemorate and mask the histories of violence that build and ...

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