FALL 1998

HISTORY 300/053 & 610



family, gender, sexuality

(special topics seminar)


053: TTh 2:30-3:45—DU-123 (LSC)

610: Th 6:00-8:30—LT-410 (WTC)


Zouhair Ghazzal



Crown 545, TTh 2:00-2:30

(or by appointment at WTC, LT-918)





The purpose of this course is to explore “kinship” as a fundamental concept in understanding the dynamics of Middle Eastern and Islamic societies. This implies that “kinship”—understood very broadly—is at the root not only of family relations, marriage, and inheritance, but also contributes to neighborhood and city life, structures national and political movements, influences decision-making within judicial systems, and leaves its impact even upon the economic infrastructures of those societies. By focusing on kinship, the aim, however, is neither to reduce the importance of “class” (or any other group formation based on economic competition and the like), nor to deny the existence of “rational” decision-making in the economic, political, and legal spheres. Rather, the purpose is to establish a primacy for kinship in Middle Eastern and Islamic societies—and to describe the decisive role it plays in the life-world (lebenswelt). In other words, the dichotomy of kinship versus class does not prove to be that helpful. In fact, societies in which class formations have become predominant and look as if they are independent of any kin affiliations, nevertheless manifest a remarkable respect to some of the basic rules of kinship when it comes to marriage, education, personal relationships, and the like. Thus, for example, in a liberal society like the United States, individuals tend to mistakenly think of their relationships and marriages, among others, as “free” and “privately” made decisions. Yet, marriages among the middle classes in particular tend to point to a well known pattern of regularities: age group, education, race, wealth, religion, etc. Among the upper classes, where wealth and patrimony are even more important, the tendency is to follow the same rules as those of the old European aristocracies, or even those of the more secretive Middle Eastern dominant classes. In short, for a society like the US, where no explicit “rules” seem to limit social actors when it comes to relationships and marriages, kinship patterns that probably tend to reinforce an already dynamic class structure prove to be critical. The point here is that such patterns tend to work in accordance with already preexisting class stratifications rather than dominate them completely. In Middle Eastern societies, the reverse is true: kinship acts “in the final analysis” as a major catalyst for social relations.

               What is “kinship” then? To simplify, it could be associated with two broad meanings. The simplest and most straightforward meaning usually associates kinship with real blood-relations. Thus, my association with my mother, father, grandparents, brothers and sisters, is a “real” one because it is based on actual blood-relationships. Such associations could even be genetically confirmed (e.g. by means of DNA tests), and anthropologists are well known for constructing genealogical charts that map generations of real blood-relationships. The French anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss claimed in his pioneering work, The Elementary Forms of Kinship, to have discovered the basic “rules” of kinship among many of the “primitive” societies (those endowed with a pensée sauvage). The prohibition of incest is probably the most fundamental rule in any society, whether primitive or advanced. However, not only marriages between father-daughter and mother-son are forbidden, but many societies extended the incest prohibition so as to include what anthropologists refer to as parallel cousins (direct descendants of two brothers). Interestingly, parallel cousin marriage was—and still is in some localities—the norm in many Arab, Islamic, and Middle Eastern societies, and social scientists still ponder on the reasons behind the usefulness of endogamic marriages in those societies. Needless to say, real—or anthropological—blood-relations form the essence of kinship in every society, and without them family, inheritance, and education would have become meaningless.

               However, kinship cannot be limited to its anthropological dimension only—and that’s particularly true for non-Western societies. In fact, much of Islamic history would not have been possible in the first place were it not for the ability of dominant “kin groups” to extend their kinship relations far beyond what their real blood-ties would have initially permitted. Ibn Khaldu≠n, a fourteenth-century Arab historian from the Maghreb, thought that Islamic ruling dynasties had to expand far beyond their real blood-ties in order to politically survive: he labeled the process of forming “unreal” (or “fictitious”) blood-relations as wahm|, imaginary. Thus, individuals associate with a dominant group, adopt its religion, manners, and language, even though geneologically they are from the outside. In fact, dominant dynasties in Islamic history were by definition never “pure” since, in order to survive, they had to incorporate elements from outside. The dynasty thus rules with a much broader base than its narrower pure blood-ties.

               The Prophet himself was from the tribe of Quraysh and from the house of Banu≠ Ha≠shim. Upon his death in 632, he was succeeded by the first four caliphs (“successors”) who were all directly related to him by the usual blood-ties of marriage and consanguinity. The fifth caliph Mu‘a≠wiya moved the caliphate to Damascus and established the first ruling dynasty in Islam, the Umayyads. Like their successors, the ‘Abbasids, they were directly related to the Banu≠ Ha≠shims—in other words, they all were descendants of the Prophet. Descendants of the Prophet were—and still are—known as the ashra≠f (s. shar|f), and they were, for lack of a better word, the “political class” that imposed itself between the ruling dynasty and the urban populations. All this should give us a vague idea as to how much kinship—in its broad fictitious meaning—is important in the formation and perseverence of Islamic societies.

               Needless to say, the classical Islamic literature is full of references to kinship. Unfortunately, however, no systematic study of kinship based on that literature has been completed yet, and in the absence of a yet to be completed research, most of our material, throughout this semester, is of an anthropological nature. Dale Eickelman in his Middle East and Central Asia—our first reading assignment—notes that “The central feature of the Afghan concept of qawm is the active maintenance by its members of a shared notion of relationship. It is this ideological form that is primary, not a “native” recognition of “blood” ties, even if such assumptions are metaphorically important” (p. 151). Throughout this course we will be exploring the complex relationship between the native recognition of blood ties—what we referred to as real kinship—and its ideological—or imaginary—dimension: both dimensions are important for what Middle Eastern societies have become at the eve of the 21st century.


*        *


kinship & modern politics


In pointing out, during the so-called Gulf War, to the world community that the Kuwaiti state is nothing but a “fictitious” construction of the British Mandate, the Iraqis typically omit to mention that the whole area known as the Fertile Crescent (Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and Jordan) as well as the Arabian peninsula (Saudi Arabia, the Gulf states, and Yemen) are all the product of British and French colonial policies between the two World Wars. These societies which were under Ottoman rule for over four centuries, had their social and economic structures shaped by the broader policies of the Ottoman Empire. During the colonial period, and later when their status for “independence” has been recognized, these societies, previously part of a world-Empire, found themselves within geographic borders that were soon to be qualified by their national leaders as “artificial.” The existence of Israel, among others, is still considered as part of this “artificial” construct, hence “illegitimate” and alien in the eyes of the local Arab populations.

               What the Middle East might be globally witnessing, as we are heading towards the 21st century, is a development far more important than a battle for the control of oil resources, and the inter-Arab struggle between the haves and the haves-not, or the growth and perseverance of Islamic movements. In fact, such factors might be only catalysts for deeper historical processes which could involve the restructuring of the area known as the Fertile Crescent and the Arabian peninsula into new political, social, and economic entities. This is not intended as an optimistic statement of any kind, but more as an agenda for research.

               Roughly speaking, in terms of political structures, the above mentioned geographic area is divided between military dictatorships (Syria, Iraq, and Yemen), tribal monarchies (Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Gulf states), a semi-democracy like Lebanon which collapsed in 1975, the Jordanian buffer-zone-state which only few years ago completed its first free parliamentary elections (with a strong presence for the Muslim Brothers), and finally the democracy of the Jewish state that some analysts do not hesitate to qualify as “tribal.” Since the 1940s it has become customary for most of these states not to recognize each other’s borders. Lebanon for example has never been officially recognized by Syria, and the Syrian domination of Lebanon since 1976 probably marks the beginning of a major reshaping of the political and economic structures of the Levant region. The non-recognition of Israel by many of its Arab neighbors, even in its pre-1967 borders, is another example of the fragility of the borders and states left by the colonial powers. And more recently, the Iraqi invasion and annexation of Kuwait has added a new dimension to the older conflicts. What in fact the Gulf crisis has shown is a widening in the gap between tribal monarchies and military dictatorships in this region.

               This gap, often referred to in the media as that between the haves and the haves-not, is not only caused by an unequal distribution of wealth among these societies. It is rather related to the differences in the political structures between the tribal monarchies and the military dictatorships. Since the beginning of the Gulf War, there has been an overemphasis in the media and the Pentagon as to the unexpectedly huge size of Iraq’s one million men army. But this army proved to be largely ineffective and slow during the war with Iran, and its semi-victory after eight years of heavy losses did not improve its status considerably. To understand the role and function of the army in the Arab world one should not think in terms of military and technological efficacy. These armies are indeed primarily a powerful tool for social integration and mobility.

               By creating borders between and across tribal, confessional, and ethnic groups, the mandatory powers not only imposed new barriers between these groups, but more important, thought they could consecrate the old divisions by endowing some of the dominating groups with state powers they hitherto lacked. The result has been the emergence of military dictatorships which turned out to be a combination of classical forms of Khaldûnian political power based on local and regional “group feelings” (‘asabiyya) usually encountered in the majority of Arab/Islamic societies, and Eastern Bloc types of states. Although the party and the army play an important role in social integration and enjoy a broad tribal, ethnic, and confessional basis, this diversification becomes narrower as we move up in the social hierarchy and the commanding military and political posts. Thus in Syria and Iraq, key military and political positions are respectively in the hands of the ‘Alawis and the Sunnis Takritis. Alliances and networks are basically in terms of marriages restricted between families and clans of these élite groups. However, it is important to note that some key positions are also occupied by minorities (Christians, Kurds, among others), and by individuals outside the dominating clan (even though from the same ethnic/confessional group).

               By contrast, tribal monarchies keep such restrictions to the entire social structure. Not only ministers, but even diplomats who represent the monarchy abroad belong to the same family and clan. (The Kuwaiti and Saudi ambassadors in Washington are examples of this politics.) This is why the army in such societies cannot play a role of “social integration,” and their enrollment is limited to soldiers belonging to the dominating tribe and to mercenaries. Thus according to a report published by Le Nouvel Observateur  (19-25 July 1990), the Saudi army (65,000 for a population of 13 million) is greatly composed of Moroccan, Egyptian, Jordanian, and Pakistanis mercenaries. An entire unit, the 12th armored division was in 1989 composed of 5,000 Pakistanis soldiers.

               How can such a monarchy persevere in its being? Basically, by buying off all its opponents, its foreign residents, and Islamic clerics and institutions all over the world. Thus the Saudi kingdom does not grant its citizenship to the five million foreign workers. This political exclusion, however, is diluted by salaries that used to be among the highest in the Middle East (but much less now since the Saudi state went almost bankrupt since the Gulf war). And this dismissal is not only restricted to foreigners, but also to Saudis who have been trained abroad, and with no immediate links to the ruling family, and who often complain that they are disregarded from the dominant positions and hardly share in political decisions. In short, tribal monarchies have developed a sophisticated form of apartheid and survive only by keeping their social divisions visible, by perpetuating them, with a total lack of long term policies that would develop some form of political participation for the “excluded minorities.” By contrast, military dictatorships, even though they do enjoy a much broader support from the army and party, have a dual policy of ideologically denying all kinds of social differences (the “secularism” of the Ba‘th), and at the same time playing factions against each other for the perseverance of the state apparatus. Thus although the Iraqi state presents itself as secular and pan-Arab, it fought an eight-year war with Iran with no other purpose but to firmly control and intimidate its 60% Shi‘i population, and it used chemical weapons against some of its 25% non-Arab Kurds. The existence of Israel is less an effect of Western colonialism than that of the “policy of minorities” adopted by all Arab states.


Some of the problems outlined above shall be discussed in terms of their respective historical, anthropological, and political dimensions. Rather than a broad survey on the contemporary Middle East, the course shall focus on few “case histories.”




There are weekly readings that you’re expected to discuss collectively in class. Your participation is essential for the success of the course. You might be also occasionally requested to prepare a presentation on a chapter or book that are part of the weekly assignments. Class presentations and discussions shall count as one-fourth of the total grade. Presentations should be improvised and 5 to 10 minutes long. Do not prepare a written presentation. The purpose of presentations is to let you check on the readings and give you the opportunity to perform and ask questions publicly. In addition to the routine weekly presentations, each student shall be requested, upon submission of a first-draft, to make a short presentation on his/her paper.

               You’re also expected to write one research paper (see below the section on papers) and take two interpretation exercises. The final grade will be calculated on the basis of one-fourth for the paper and one-fourth for each interpretation exercise. The mid-term interpretation exercise will be open-books and open-notes while the final is take-home. The purpose of open books-open notes interpretation exercises is to give you the opportunity to go “beyond” the literal meaning of the text and adopt interpretive and “textual” techniques. You are therefore strongly advised to bring any needed materials with you. You are not allowed, during the exam, to share or communicate any material with your class-mates. A failing grade in all interpretation exercises means also a failing grade for the course, whatever your performance in the paper is. A failure to submit the first and final drafts of your paper on time could have an effect on your final grade.



Class presentations, discussions, e-mail list


Mid-Term Interpretation Exercise


Final Interpretation Exercise


Term Paper





• Weeks 1, 2, 3 & 4: September 1/3, 8/10, 15/17, 28 & October 1: Eickelman, Middle East & Central Asia (Prentice Hall).


September 22/24: no class


October 8, 1998: Mid-Term Interpretation Exercise


• Weeks 5, 6 & 7: October 6/8, 13/15 & 22: Shryock, Nationalism and the Genealogical Imagination (California).


October 20: Mid-Semester Break


• Weeks 8 & 9: October 27/29 & November 3/5: Khoury & Kostiner, Tribes and State Formation in the Middle East (California).


November 5: First Draft Deadline


• Weeks 10, 11 & 12: November 10/12, 17/19, 24 & December 1: Dresch, Tribes, Government, and History in Yemen (Oxford).


November 26: Thanksgiving


• Week 13: December 3/8: Presentation and discussion of term-papers.


December 3/8: Final Draft Deadline


Final Interpretation Exercise is Take-Home



You are requested to write one major research paper to be submitted during the last session, Thursday/Tuesday, December 3/8, 1998. You will have to submit, however, a first draft of this paper on Monday/Wednesday, March 16/18, 1998. The first draft should follow the same presentation and writing guidelines as your final draft, but it won’t be graded. Only your final draft will count as one-fourth of the total grade. The purpose of the first draft is to let you assess your research and writing skills in order to improve the final version of your paper. It is advisable that you choose a research topic and start preparing a bibliography as soon as possible. I strongly recommend that you consult with me before making any final commitment. It would be preferable to keep the same topic for both drafts. You will be allowed, however, after prior consultation, to change your topic if you wish to do so.

           You may choose any topic related to the social, economic, political, and cultural history of Islam and the Middle East since the prophetic mission in the 7th century a.d. until the rise of the Ottomans and the latest developments of this century. Papers should be analytical and conceptual. Avoid pure narratives and chronologies and construct your paper around a main thesis.


Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 5th ed., Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987. Intended for students and other writers of papers not written for publication. Useful material on notes and bibliographies.


Please use the following guidelines in preparing your papers:


-use 8x10 white paper (the size and color of this paper). Do not use legal size or colored paper.

-use a typewriter, laser printer or a good inkjet printer and hand in the original.

-only type on one side of the paper.

-should be double spaced, with single spaced footnotes at the end of each page and an annotated bibliography at the end. (The bibliography that follows in the next section is an annotated one.)

-keep ample left and right margins for comments and corrections of at least 1.25 inches each.

-all pages should be numbered and stapled.

-a cover page should include the following: paper’s title, course number and section, your name, address, e-mail, and telephone.



An open e-mail discussion list is available: each message—whether mine or from any student—will reach anyone else on the list, so that every subscriber could directly write to the list.


History 104 & 300: <H104H300-L@luc.edu>


Both courses, linked together within a single discussion list, focus on anthropological and historical aspects of non-Western (“Third-World”) societies and civilizations. History 104 aims at a comparative analysis between four major civilizations of the “Indian Ocean”: the Islamic-Middle Eastern, Chinese, Indian, and South East Asia. History 300 focuses mainly on the modern Middle East including its Ottoman background. In both courses, common patterns—similar in some respects to mathematical sets—are worked out by looking at social, economic, and political structures.


The purpose of this electronic listserv is to discuss issues relevant to both courses, and current political and social matters as well. The focus, however, shall be primarily on the readings themselves since they represent our primary source for dealing with the complexities of these civilizations.


To join the list, please send an e-mail message to:




and include as your e-mail message (leaving the Subject: field blank, if possible):


                subscribe H104H300-L first-name last-name


e.g., Janine Doe—you would type in:


                subscribe H104H300-L Janine Doe



GroupWise Users at Loyola University Chicago: Please preface the 'listproc' address (or subscription address) with 'internet:' in the To: field. For example:


                To: internet:listproc@luc.edu


Once you’ve successfully subscribed (you’ll receive a confirmation message with instructions), send all messages to the list’s address:




Your message will be automatically routed to all the list’s subscribers. You should even receive a copy of your own message.


Do not send any mail to my private address <zghazzal@midway.uchicago.edu>, except for appointments or personal problems regarding the course. Suggestions for term-papers topics should be posted directly at the class-list.


Problems in joining the list? Questions? Send an e-mail to Brian Kinne <bkinne@luc.edu>.


notes from it services:


From: "Jack Corliss, Loyola University Chicago" <jcorlis@orion.it.luc.edu>


Please note that about 96% of all registered students have e-mail accounts, on the GroupWise e-mail system (university e-mail system). We no longer encourage students to obtain Orion accounts unless they plan to do personal web page design and development.


Of course, students can use whatever e-mail account they have to subscribe and post to the class discussion list including AOL and Entereact. If you want to send attachments to the students on the list then they should find out their e-mail system handles attachments.


You should also know that as of last May, anyone using the computer workstations in any of the University computing centers and public-access labs are required to have university network access account (which we call the UVID). This is required whether the student plans to access the Internet resources, their GroupWise or Orion e-mail, use wordprocessing to write their papers, whatever.


Therefore, students are assigned these accounts automatically. However, if a student does not remember his or her university network access account/password, and registered late this year, then the student will need to go to the computing center to have the password reassigned or a network access account set up (usually takes 24 hours).


WHAT I HAVE JUST PRESENTED ABOVE IS VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION. Please be prepared to direct the student to one of the computing centers if he or she does not know nor remember the network access account or password.


Please note that some students may know this network access account as the GroupWise account and password—an unfortunate nomenclature—but most likely this is one and the same. Previously, we referred to these as GroupWise accounts but now we are calling them university IDs (or UVID), or university network access accounts.


The computing centers have had to deal with this last semester, so please do not hesitate to refer any students to the computing centers for assistance, or they can call the Help Desk at 4-4444 and the Help Desk staff will re-assign a network access password.



The following bibliography is highly selective and only restricted to books and articles which in a way or another are representative of a particular historical or sociological/anthropological trend. Students are thus encouraged, when writing their papers, to use more extensive bibliographies related to the topics they are dealing with. Some of the books for our weekly discussion sessions include such bibliographies. (It would better if you discuss with me your papers’ topics before you start writing.)


1. Islam & The Early Empires—General


The Qur’ân is the holy book of the Muslims (in all their different factions and sects) delivered by God in Arabic to the community of believers (umma) through the “medium” of the Prophet Muhammad in sessions of “revelation” (wahî). Thus Arabic is not only the language of the Qur’ân (and the Sunna), but also a divine language, the language of God. All translations of the Qur’ân are thus considered as illegitimate and inaccurate. There are several such “translations”/“interpretations” available. A classical one would be that of A.J. Arberry, The Koran Interpreted (Oxford University Press). For a recent “reading” of the Qur’ân, see Jacques Berque, Relire le Coran (Paris: Albin Michel, 1993).


R. Stephen Humphreys, Islamic History. A Framework for Inquiry (Princeton University Press, 1991), is a long annotated, commented, and thematically organized bibliography. Recommended for those looking at the best in the field for sources available in English, French and German. Some references to primary sources, mainly Arabic medieval sources, are also included. The problem with this “inquiry” is that it excludes from its field of investigation all publications in modern Arabic, Hebrew, as well as Turkish and Persian. In short, this book is an excellent tool for a primary survey of the status of the Middle Eastern studies in Europe and North America.


Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture of Islam, 3 vols. (Chicago University Press, 1974), is a landmark study on the “origins” of Islam and its historical evolution into empires. Recommended for those interested in Islam within a comparative religious and geographic perspective.


Ira Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies (Cambridge University Press, 1988), is a complete fourteen-century history of Islamic societies. Chapters vary in depth and horizon. No particular focus and not much imaginative—tedious to read.


Bernard Lewis (ed.), The World of Islam (London: Thames and Hudson, 1976), is a thematically organized book with chapters on literature, jurisprudence, sufism, the cities, the Ottoman and modern experiences. Includes hundreds of illustrations and maps.


Watt, W. M., Muhammad at Mecca (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1953); Muhammad at Medina (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956), both are classics describing the life of the Prophet and his first achievements in Mecca and Medina.


Franz Rozenthal, A History of Muslim Historiography (Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1952); 2d rev. ed., 1968.


Roy Mottahedeh, Loyalty and Leadership in an Early Islamic Society (Princeton University Press, 1980), an excellent book, based on primary sources from Southern Iraq that describe the process and concept of bay‘a in early Islamic thought.


Hugh Kennedy, The Early Abbasid Caliphate: A Political History (London: Croom Helm, 1981).


Jacob Lassner, The Shaping of Abbasid Rule (Princeton University Press, 1980).


Lassner, Jacob, Islamic Revolution and Historical Memory: An Inquiry into the Art of ‘Abbâsid Apologetics  (American Oriental Series, number 66.) New Haven: American Oriental Society. 1986.


The History of al-Tabarî (State University of New York Press, 1989), is a multi-volume series of the translation of the “History” of Tabarî, one of the major historians and interpreters of the Qur’ân of the early Islamic and empire periods.


al-Shâfi‘î, Risâla. Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri (Islamic Texts Society, 1987). Shâfi‘î was the founding father of one of the four major schools of Sunni jurisprudence and the Risâla contains some of his major theoretical foundations on the notions analogy, qiyâs, and the ijmâ‘, consensus of the community.


Martin Lings, Muhammad. His Life Based on the Earliest Sources (Rochester, 1983).


Newby, Gordon Darnell, The Making of the Last Prophet: A Reconstruction of the Earliest Biography of Muhammad (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989).


Maxime Rodinson, Muhammad (Pantheon, 1971), is an interesting interpretation of the early Islamic period based on a social and economic analysis of the Arabian Peninsula at the dawn of Islam.


M. A. Shaban, Islamic History. A New Interpretation, 2 vol. (Cambridge University Press, 1971), is an attempt towards a new interpretation of the ‘Abbâsid Revolution of the eight century as a movement of assimilation of Arabs and non-Arabs into an “equal rights” Empire.


Mohammad Hashim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence (Cambridge, 1991). See also the great classic of Joseph Schacht, The Origins of Muhammadan Jurisprudence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1950).


Ignaz Goldziher, Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law (Princeton University Press, 1981).


Fred Donner, The Early Islamic Conquests (Princeton University Press, 1981), reconstructs the early Islamic Conquests (futûhât) from a wealth of Arabic chronicles and literary and ethnographic sources.


Bernard Lewis, The Political Language of Islam (Chicago University Press, 1988), discusses the notion of “government” and “politics” in Islamic societies.


Patricia Crone, Slaves on Horses. The Evolution of the Islamic Polity (Cambridge University Press, 1980); id., Meccan Trade and the Rise of Islam (Princeton University Press, 1987), questions the thesis concerning the “trade boom” in seventh-century Arabia.


Mahmood Ibrahim, Merchant Capital and Islam (Austin: University of Texas Press, 1990), links the rise of Islam and the Islamic state with the emergence of a mercantile society in Mecca and views the Arab expansion as the means by which merchants consolidated their political ascendancy.


Ann Lambton, Continuity and Change in Medieval Persia. Aspects of Administrative, Economic and Social History, 11th-14th Century (The Persian Heritage Foundation, 1988).


Dominique Urvoy, Ibn Rushd (Averroes) (Routledge, 1991). Henry Corbin, Avicenna and the Visionary Recital (Princeton University Press, 1960), is an analysis and interpretation of Hayy ibn Yaqzân.


Salma Khadra Jayyusi, editor, The Legacy of Muslim Spain (Leiden: Brill, 1993). See also L. P. Harvey, Islamic Spain, 1250 to 1500 (Chicago University Press, 1990).


2. The Ottoman Empire



For a general social history of The Ottoman Empire, see H.A.R. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the West, Volume One, 2 parts (London: Oxford University Press, 1950-57).


For a general chronological history of the Ottoman Empire, see Stanford Shaw & Ezel Shaw, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 2 vols., (Cambridge, 1977). See also M. A. Cook (ed.), A History of the Ottoman Empire to 1730 (Cambridge University Press, 1976).


Paul Wittek, The Rise of the Ottoman Empire (London, 1963). A short monograph on the nature of early Ottoman expansion.


For a narrative account of the rise of the Ottoman Empire viewed from the standpoint of historical geography, see Donald Edgar Pitcher, An Historical Geography of the Ottoman Empire. From earliest times to the end of the Sixteenth Century with detailed maps to illustrate the expansion of the Sultanate (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972).


George Young, Corps de droit ottoman, 7 vol. (Oxford, 1905-6) contains  selections from the Ottoman judicial code.


Halil Inalcik & Donald Quataert, eds., An Economic and Social History of the Ottoman Empire, 1300-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1994). In four chronological sections, the contributors provide valuable information on land tenure systems, population, trade and commerce and the industrial economy.



Robert Mantran (ed.), Histoire de l’Empire ottoman (Paris: Fayard, 1989).

Barbara Jelavich, The Ottoman Empire (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973).

Halil Inalcik, The Ottoman Empire (New York: Praeger Publishers, 1973).

Norman Itzkowitz, Ottoman Empire and Islamic Tradition (New York: Knopf, 1972)

Peter Mansfield, The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1973).

William Miller, The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors, 1801-1927 (New York: Octagon Books, 1966).

Smith William Cooke, The Ottoman Empire and Its Tributary States (Chicago: Argonot, 1968).



Alexander H. de Groot, The Ottoman Empire and the Dutch Republic (Leiden, 1978).

Leopold von Ranke, The Ottoman and the Spanish Empires in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (New York: AMS Press, 1975).

Gustav Bayerle, Ottoman Diplomacy in Hungary (Bloomington: Indiana University, 1972).

J. C. Hurewitz, Diplomacy in the Near and Middle East. A Documentary Record, 2 vol. (Princeton, 1956), contains a selection of administrative documents, edicts,  and treaties since 1535.



There has been numerous studies within the last two decades that describe in economic terms how the Ottoman societies have reacted to what is now known as the process of “incorporation” of the Ottoman Empire in the world-economy. Despite their merits, “world-systems” analyses are weak in understanding and interpreting cultures and social structures. See for example, Immanuel Wallerstein & Resat Kasaba, “Incorporation into the World-Economy: Change in the Structure of the Ottoman Empire,1750-1839,” in J.-L. Bacqué-Grammont & Paul Dumont, eds., Économie et sociétés dans l'Empire ottoman (Paris: CNRS, 1983), 335-54. Some of the most recent titles in “world-systems” include the following:


Huri Islamoglu-Inan, ed., The Ottoman Empire and the World-Economy (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988).


Caglar Keyder, ed., Ottoman Empire: Nineteenth-Century Transformations, in Review, 11(1988).


Caglar Keyder, State and Class in Turkey: A Study in Capitalist Development (London & New York: Verso, 1987).


Resat Kasaba, The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy: The 19th Century (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 1988).


Pamuk, Sevket, The Ottoman Empire and European Capitalism,1820-1913: Trade, Investment, and Production (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 1987).



Halil Inalcik, Studies in Ottoman Social and Economic History (London: Variorum Reprints, 1985), is a reproduction of a series of articles on the “beginnings” of the Ottoman Empire, the impact of the Annales school on Ottoman historiography, etc., by a leading figure in the field of Ottoman studies. See also by the same author his collected studies under the title The Ottoman Empire: Conquest, Organization and Economy (London: Variorum Reprints, 1978).


Halil Inalcik, “Military and Fiscal Transformation of the Ottoman Empire, 1600-1700,” Archivum Ottomanicum, 6(1980), 283-337, reproduced in Inalcik (1985), discusses the transformation of the Ottoman tax-farming system from the timâr to the iltizâm. See also Bruce McGowan, Economic Life in Ottoman Europe. Taxation, Trade and the Struggle for Land, 1600-1800 (Cambridge University Press, 1981).


Kemal H. Karpat, Ottoman Population: Demographic and Social Characteristics (Madison: The University of Wisconsin Press, 1985). This book attempts, on the basis of original archive materials, to show the demographic dimension of Middle Eastern and Balkan societies under Ottoman rule in the 19th century. See the review of Inalcik in IJMES, 21/3 (1989).


Ömer Lutfi Barkan, “The Price Revolution of the Sixteenth Century: A Turning Point in the Economic History of the Near East,” IJMES, 6(1975), 3-28. A classical article which analyzes the effects of one of the first debasements of the Ottoman currency in the 16th century.


Uriel Heyd, Studies in Old Ottoman Criminal Law, ed. by V. L. Ménage (Oxford, 1973) discusses, among others, the relation between the Islamic sharî‘a and the Ottoman qânûn.


Benjamin Braude & Bernard Lewis (eds.), Christians and Jews in the Ottoman Empire: The Functioning of a Plural Society. Volume 1, The Central Lands; Volume 2, The Arabic-Speaking Lands. (New York, 1982), contains a wide range of articles on “minority” groups in the Ottoman Empire.


On women in the Ottoman Empire, see Fanny Davis, The Ottoman Lady. A Social History from 1718 to 1918 (New York: Greenwood Press, 1986).


Ehud R. Toledano, The Ottoman Slave Trade and Its Suppression (Princeton University Press, 1982), stresses the key role of the British in the elimination of the trade in black slaves from Africa and the importance of the Ottoman’s own actions in abolishing trade in white slaves from the lands around the Black Sea.


Suraiya Faroqhi, Towns and Townsmen of Ottoman Anatolia. Trade, Crafts and Food Production in an Urban Setting, 1520-1650 (Cambridge University Press, 1984).


Charles Issawi, Economic History of Turkey (Chicago, 1980), is an account, mainly based on the European consular correspondence of the 19th century, of the Turkish economy during the period of Western colonialism and imperialism.


Gabriel Baer, “The Administrative, Economic and Social Functions of Turkish Guilds,” IJMES, 1(1970), 28-50. Haim Gerber, “Guilds in Seventeenth-Century Anatolian Bursa,” Asian and African Studies (AAS), 11(1976), 59-86. Orhan Kurmus, “Some Aspects of Handicraft and Industrial Production in Ottoman Anatolia, 1800-1915,” AAS, 15(1981), 85-101. Edward C. Clark, “The Ottoman Industrial Revolution,” IJMES, 5(1974), 65-76. Bernard Lewis, “The Islamic Guilds,” Economic History Review, 8(1937), 20-37.


Jacques Thobie, Intérêts et impérialisme français dans l'empire Ottoman (Paris, 1977) focuses on the effects of French imperialism on the Ottoman Empire in general and on some Arab Provinces in particular (Syria and Lebanon).


Gilles Veinstein, État et société dans l’empire ottoman, XVIe-XVIIIe siècles (Variorum, 1994).



Serif Mardin, The Genesis of Young Ottoman Thought (Princeton University Press,1962) studies the effects of Western “liberal” thought on the Ottoman intelligentsia of the 19th century and the “origins” of the Tanzimât reforms of 1839. See also by the same author, “Ideology and Religion in the Turkish Revolution,” International Journal of Middle East Studies (IJMES), 2(1971), 197-211. See also R. C. Repp, The Müfti of Istanbul: A Study in the Development of the Ottoman Learned Hierarchy (London: Ithaca, 1986) and J. R. Barnes, An Introduction to Religious Foundations in the Ottoman Empire (Leiden: E.J. Brill,1986). Richard L. Chambers, “The Ottoman Ulema and the Tanzimat” in Nikki R. Keddie (ed.), Scholars, Saints, and Sufis: muslim Religious Institutions Since 1500 (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972).


Cornell H. Fleisher, Bureaucrat and Intellectual in the Ottoman Empire: The Historian Mustafa Ali, 1546-1600 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). The Ottoman 16th century through the eyes of the historian Mustafa Ali. See the critical review article (especially on the much debated issue of “decline”) by Rhoads Murphey, “Mustafa Ali and the Politics of Cultural Despair,” IJMES, 21(1989), 243-255; idem, Regional Structure in the Ottoman Economy (Wiesbaden: Otto Harrassowitz, 1987). A Sultanic memorandum of 1636 A.D. concerning the sources and uses of the tax-farm revenues of Anatolia and the coastal and northern portions of Syria.


Cornell H. Fleisher, “Royal Authority, Dynastic Cyclism, and ‘Ibn Khaldûnism’ in Sixteenth-Century Ottoman Letters,” Journal of Asian and African Studies, 18/3-4(1983), 198-220.


Bernard Lewis, The Emergence of Modern Turkey (Oxford University Press, 1968[1961]) A survey of the first Turkish pan-movements till the proclamation of the Turkish Republic and its aftermath. See also Uriel Heyd, Foundations of Turkish Nationalism (Westport, Conn.: Hyperion Press, 1979).


Kemal H. Karpat, “The Transformations of the Ottoman State, 1789-1908,” IJMES, 3(1972), 243-81.


Carter Findley, Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire. The Sublime Porte, 1789-1922 (Princeton University Press, 1980); idem, Ottoman Civil Officialdom. A Social History (Princeton University Press, 1989) reassesses Ottoman accomplishments and failures in turning an archaic scribal corps into an effective civil service.


For a political anthropology of the Ottoman Empire and the cultural barriers for its development, see Ilkay Sunar, State and Society in the Politics of Turkey’s Development (Ankara, 1974).



3. The Arab Provinces. General.

The work of Charles Issawi gives the best synthesis of the economic development of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt). Among his numerous works, Economic History of the Middle East (Chicago, 1966), Economic History of the Middle East and North Africa (New York, 1982), The Fertile Crescent, 1800-1914, A Documentary Economic History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).


Another excellent work of economic synthesis is Roger Owen’s The Middle East in the World Economy (London: Methuen, 1981).


William Polk & Richard Chambers, eds., Beginnings of Modernization in the Middle East (Chicago, 1968) contains some key articles by Karpat, Chevallier, Berque, Hourani, and others. Highly recommended.


4. Syria & Lebanon

The Lebanese historiography did not progress much beyond the classical works of Chevallier (1971), Harik (1968), and Smilyanskaya (1965), despite a number of interesting recent publications in the field.


Dominique Chevallier, La société du mont Liban à l’époque de la révolution industrielle en Europe (Paris, 1971) is a complete study on the economic, cultural, and political effects of the industrial revolution on Mount Lebanon during the 19th century. See also by the same author, Villes et travail en Syrie, du XIXe au XXe siècle (Paris, 1982).


Iliya Harik, Politics and Change in a Traditional Society, Lebanon, 1711-1845 (Princeton, N. J., 1968), is very powerful in analyzing the cultural transformations of the societies of Mount Lebanon. The chapters on the process of “rationalization” (in the sense of Weber) of the Maronite Church are among the best in the field.


I. M. Smilyanskaya’s thesis, Krestyanskoe dvizhenie v Livane (Moscow,1965), is unfortunately only available in the original Russian with a complete Arabic translation (Beirut, 1971). Some chapters are translated in English in Issawi (1966 & 1988). Smilyanskaya’s thesis is an attempt to explain the peasant’s movements of the 19th century in terms of class struggle rather than inter-confessional struggles.


Boutros Labaki, Introduction à l’histoire économique du Liban (Beirut,1984), focuses mainly on the production of silk in Mount Lebanon during the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Leila Fawaz, Merchants and Migrants in Nineteenth Century Beirut (Cambridge, Mass., 1983), covers the rapid evolution of Beirut during the 19th century from a small provincial town to a key commercial city.


William Polk, The Opening of South Lebanon (Cambridge, Mass., 1963), is another classical study of Mount Lebanon.


Mikhâyil Mishâqa, Murder, Mayhem, Pillage, and Plunder. The History of the Lebanon in the 18th and 19th Centuries, translated from the Arabic by Wheeler M. Thackston, Jr. (Albany: State University of New York Press,1988), is a 19th century chronicle by Mishâqa (1800-1888) who among other things served as financial comptroller to the Shihâb emirs of Hâsbayyâ and in his later years was a physician and consul to the United States in Damascus.


Thomas Philipp, The Syrians in Egypt, 1725-1975 (Stuttgart, 1985), discusses the immigration of Syrians (mainly Christians) to Egypt starting with the Ottoman period.


A.L. Tibawi, American Interests in Syria (Oxford, 1961), analyzes the role and function of the Protestant missionaries in Syria from the 1820s till the opening of the Syrian Protestant College in Beirut in 1866.


Abraham Marcus, The Middle East on the Eve of Modernity. Aleppo in the Eighteenth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 1989), would be interesting to compare with Brown, People of Salé concerning the social and economic structures of Arab/Islamic cities. See also Bruce Masters, The Origins of Western Economic Dominance in the Middle East. Mercantilism and the Islamic Economy in Aleppo, 1600-1750 (New York University Press, 1988).


Karl K. Barbir, Ottoman Rule in Damascus, 1708-1758 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1980), focuses on the politics of the notables during the 18th century, the governorship of the ‘Azm, and the political and economic importance of the pilgrimage for Damascus.


Philip Khouri, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism (Cambridge, 1983), discusses the formation, during the Tanzimât period and after the Land Code of 1858, of provincial bureaucracies composed mainly of Damascene land-owners belonging to the traditional notable's class.


Linda Schatkowski Schilcher, Families in Politics. Damascene Factions and Estates of the 18th and 19th Centuries (Stuttgart, 1985), is a more complete version of Khouri’s thesis on Damascus. Her division of the city in three “conflicting” parts and the maps provided are the best parts of the book.


William Polk (ed.), “Document: Rural Syria in 1845,” Middle East Journal, 16(1962), 508-14.


Zouhair Ghazzal, L’économie politique de Damas durant le XIXe siècle. Structures traditionnelles et capitalisme (Damascus: Institut Français de Damas, 1993).


Israel & the Palestinians


Charles Smith, Palestine and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (St. Martin’s, 1992), provides with a clear and detailed overview of the conflict.


Walter Laqueur and Barry Rubin, eds., The Israel-Arab Reader. A Documentary History of the Middle East Conflict (Penguin, 1969, 1984), contain many of the key documents on the conflict, but lacks in particular those related to the Arab side during the British Mandate period.


Roger Owen, ed., Studies in the Economic and Social History of Palestine in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries (Carbondale, Ill., 1982), contains a series of well written articles on the effects of foreign investments in Ottoman and British Palestine.


Neville J. Mandel, The Arabs and Zionism Before World War I (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1976), focuses on the Arab and Ottoman reactions (mainly by leading politicians and intellectuals) to Jewish immigration to Palestine during the last four decades of Ottoman rule.


Kenneth Stein, The Land Question in Palestine,1917-1939 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1984), is in some aspects a complementary study to Mandel’s Arabs and Zionism. Highly recommended for those interested in the social and economic dimensions of the Arab-Israeli conflict. See also Gershon Shafir, Land and Labor and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict,1882-1914 (Cambridge University Press, 1989).


David Kushner (ed.), Palestine in the Late Ottoman Period (Jerusalem-Leiden, 1986), has a number of interesting articles on the economy of Palestine at the turn of this century. Problems related to the demography, the system of iltizâm, and the waqf (Gabriel Baer), are well covered. See also Moshe Ma‘oz (ed.), Studies on Palestine During the Ottoman Period (Jerusalem: The Magnes Press, 1975). On the Jews of the Arab Provinces of the Ottoman Empire, see Norman A. Stillman, The Jews of the Arab Lands. A History and Source Book (Philadelphia: The Jewish Publication Society of America, 1979).


Gabriel Baer, “The Dismemberment of Awqâf in Early 19th Century Jerusalem,” AAS, 13(1979), 220-41. This article, based on the law-court registers of Jerusalem, shows that the process of the “dismemberment” of the waqf is only a judicial device to transform it to the status of a quasi private property.


Philip Matar, The Mufti of Jerusalem. al-Hajj Amin al-Husayni and the Palestinian National Movement (Studies of the Middle East Institute, 1988), offers a comprehensive biography of Muhammad Amin al-Husayni, the principle leader of Palestinian nationalism during the British Mandate.


Muhammad Muslih, The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism (Institute for Palestine Studies, 1988).


Justin McCarthy, The Population of Palestine. Population Statistics of the Late Ottoman Period and the Mandate (Institute for Palestine Studies, 1990), shows that Arabs were a large majority in Palestine up to 1947.


Avi Shlaim, The Politics of Partition. King Abdullah, The Zionists, and Palestine, 1912-1951 (Columbia University Press, 1990), focuses on the secret Arab-Zionist agreement to partition Palestine.


Benny Morris, The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem (Cambridge University Press, 1987). Morris provides the strongest and most complete documented account of the refugee problem between December 1947 (a month after the UN partition plan) and September 1949 when some 600,000-760,000 Palestinian Arabs became refugees. He argues that the bulk of the refugees—roughly 300,000—left between March and May 1948 (date of the proclamation of the state of Israel) without much pressure from the Zionist military groups, such as the Haganah and IDF, and were preceded by the wealthy populations of Haifa and Jaffa. This, argues Morris, came as a great surprise to everyone, including Ben-Gurion and his aides in the Yishuv, who nevertheless decided not to let the refugees come back to their homes. Such unorthodox views, Morris argues in 1948 and After. Israel and the Palestinians (Oxford University Press, 1994), were criticized by orthodox “historians” from both camps—Palestinians and Israelis. See also by the same author, Israel’s Border Wars, 1949-1956 (Clarendon Press, 1993).


Yehoshua Porath, The Emergence of the Palestinian-Arab National Movement 1918-1929 and The Palestinian Arab National Movement 1929-1939 (London, 1974 and 1979), examines the origins of Palestinian nationalism.


Uri Bar-Joseph’s, The Best of Enemies, Israel and Transjordan in the War of 1948 (London, 1987).


Ilan Pappe, Britain and the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1948-1951 (London, 1988).


Michael Cohen, Palestine and the Great Powers, 1945-1948 (Princeton University Press, 1982).


Simha Flapan, The Birth of Israel (New York, 1987).


Itzhak Galnoor, The Partition of Palestine (SUNY, 1995). Galnoor’s book is constructed on one main thesis: that, inadvertently, the “Arab Revolt” in Palestine, which began in April 1936, openly placed the possibility of establishing a Jewish state on the political agenda. Thus the British Royal Commission, which in light of the “Arab Revolt” was established in 1937 to propose a solution to the conflict, came out with a partition plan. This prompted the various Zionist groups to question themselves on the possibility of a Jewish state in Palestine rather than continue with the euphemism of the “national home,” as proposed by the Balfour declaration in 1917. Even though Galnoor is quite convincing when he describes the various Zionist attitudes (opponents, proponents, and undecided), his terminology is occasionally sloppy and confusing. He thus presents the Zionist groups as working with “Western” concepts of territory, nation, and state, while it is clear that it was their emotional and instrumental representation of territory which shaped their notion of state thus bypassing, in a way strikingly similar to the Nazi notions of Fatherland and Motherland, the Western concepts of “body politic,” “social contract,” and nation-state.


5. Iraq


Hanna Batatu, The Old Social Classes and the Revolutionary Movements of Iraq (Princeton University Press, 1978), covers extensively the rise and fall of the Iraqi Communist Party (ICP) in the 1940s in the second part of the book, while the first part is an introduction to Iraqi society based on a profile of its landowning and other social “classes.” Finally, a third part deals, though less extensively than the one devoted to the Communists, with the formation of the Ba‘th and the coming to power of Saddâm Husayn. The three parts seem like three different narratives without a major thread to bring them together. Extensive use of the Foreign Office archives that the British left in Iraq.


Samir al-Khalil, Republic of Fear. The Inside Story of Saddam’s Iraq (Pantheon, 1989), analyses the logic of Iraqi “totalitarianism.” Important insights on the ideology of the Ba‘th party, its organization, and its links with other state organizations such as the army, the mukhâbarât, etc. See also by the same author, The Monument. Art, Vulgarity and Responsibility in Iraq (University of California Press, 1991).



6. Iran


Roy Mottahedeh, The Mantle of the Prophet. Religion and Politics in Iran (Pantheon, 1985), is an analysis of some of the main intellectual movements in Iran prior and during the Islamic Revolution in 1978 as seen through the eyes of a “character” under the pseudonym of Ali Hashemi. However, despite this focus on the education and becoming of a single Iranian ‘âlim, the overall point of the book remains unclear.



7. Turkey


Serif Mardin, Religion and Social Change in Modern Turkey. The Case of Bediüzzaman Said Nursi (SUNY, 1989), raises the question of religious fundamentalism in Turkey through the case of Said Nursi and his movement.



8. Egypt

André Raymond’s seminal work Artisans et commerçants au Caire au 18ème siècle (Damascus, 1973-4) in 2 volumes is a must for the economic history of Egypt during the 18th century. Compare with Marcus (1989) and Brown (1976) on the concept of Arab/Islamic cities.


For the 19th century and in particular the Muhammad Ali experience in “modernization,” a revisionist work is Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid Marsot, Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali (Cambridge, 1984).


Judith Tucker, Women in Nineteenth Century Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 1985), discusses the problems in the historiography of women in Middle Eastern societies.


Bryon Cannon, Politics of Law and the Courts in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (University of Utah Press, 1988), explores the interaction between local and international factors, both political and economic, that affected the establishment of an effective civil and criminal court system in Egypt during the last decades of the nineteenth century.


Timothy Mitchell, Colonising Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 1988), examines the peculiar methods of order and truth that characterize the modern West through a re-reading of Europe’s colonial impact on 19th-century Egypt.


Beinin, Joel and Zachary Lockman, Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam, and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987).


Peter Gran, Islamic Roots of Capitalism. Egypt, 1760-1840 (University of Texas Press, 1979). Gran’s main hypothesis is that the output of the ‘ulamâ’ marked “developments in secular culture and were supportive of capitalism.”


Gabriel Baer, Egyptian Guilds in Modern Times (Jerusalem, 1964).


Juan R.I. Cole, Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East. Social and Cultural Origins of Egypt’s ‘Urabi Movement (Princeton University Press, 1993), focuses on the ‘Urâbî movement as a broadly based social revolution hardly underway when it was cut off by the British. A challenge to traditional élite-centered theories.


9. The Maghreb

What is interesting in the Moroccan case is that this society has not been subject to Ottoman rule. Hence it could be used as a background for a comparative analysis with the Ottoman societies.


Abdallah Laroui’s Les origines sociales et culturelles du nationalisme marocain,1830-1912 (Paris: Maspero, 1977), is a monumental study on how the idea of Moroccan “nationalism” evolved through the existence of “internal” institutions (mainly the Makhzen). Highly recommended.


Schroeter, Daniel J., Merchants of Essaouira: Urban Society and Imperialism in Southwestern Morocco, 1844-1886 (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988). An account of Essaouira in its heyday, as the city was opening to foreign penetration, sheds light on the problems of traditional societies in the age of European economic imperialism. Compare with the classical study of Kenneth L. Brown, People of Salé. Tradition and Change in a Moroccan City, 1830-1930 (Harvard University Press, 1976).


Edmund Burke III, “The Moroccan Ulama, 1860-1912: An Introduction” in Nikki R. Keddie (ed.), Scholars, Saints, and Sufis: Muslim Religious Institutions Since 1500 (Berkeley-Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1972).


Carl L. Brown, The Tunisia of Ahmad Bey, 1837-1855 (Princeton University Press, 1974).


Peter Von Sivers, “The Realm of Justice: Apocaliptic Revolts in Algeria (1849-1879), Humaniora Islamica, 1(1973), 47-60.


10. The Modern Middle East Within an Anthropological & Historical Perspectives


Roger Owen, State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East (Routledge, 1992), presents the state, society, religion and the military within a comparative perspective.


Dale F. Eickelman, The Middle East. An Anthropological Approach, 2nd. ed. (Prentice-Hall, 1981, 1989), covers a wide variety of topics from the villages and cities to self, gender and sexuality. Depth of treatment varies from one chapter to another—some chapters, like the one on the cities, are disappointing while others fail to come up with an approach from the multitude of secondary studies that the author relies upon. A crucial book for an overview of the current state of anthropological literature on the Middle East.


Pierre Bourdieu, The Logic of Practice (Stanford University Press, 1990), originally published in Paris as Le sens pratique (1980), is a pioneering study on the social “practices” of the Kabyles in Algeria, based on a field work in the 1950s, and with tremendous philosophical, epistemological and anthropological implications. Recommended for those who would like to take account of the most recent discoveries in the “social sciences,” and most notably anthropology and combine them with their own historical findings.


Dresch, Paul, Tribes, Government and History in Yemen (Oxford University Press, 1990).


Goldberg, Harvey E., Jewish Life in Muslim Libya: Rivals and relatives (Chicago University Press, 1990).


Haeri, Shahla, Law of Desire: Temporary Marriage in Iran (Tauris, 1990), on the status of women and the types of marriages (in particular the mut‘a, pleasure marriage) in contemporary Iran.


Rosen, Lawrence, The Anthropology of Justice: Law as Culture in Islamic Society (Cambridge UP, 1989), is an important study on the practice of law in Morocco. Rosen starts with the basic assumption that law in every society is part of the cultural system, and then proceeds to show that “bargaining” is an essential “concept” towards an understanding of the “practice” of Islamic law. A breakthrough in the study of law in general.


Brinkley Messick, The Calligraphic State. Textual Domination and History in a Muslim Society (California University Press, 1992), discusses the transmission, conservation and interpretation of the fiqh (jurisprudence) literature from one generation to another in the context of an Islamic society like Yemen. Focuses on details that historians usually avoid. Recommended for those interested in history within an anthropological perspective.


Michael Fischer and Mehdi Abedi, Debating Muslims. Cultural Dialogues in Postmodernity and Tradition (Wisconsin University Press, 1990). Written in a post-modernist Derridean style, this book is supposed to show that all kinds of Islamic practices wherever they’re located are always in a permanent process of adaptation and re-adaptation to the social realities of a particular period. This is done through a re-assessment of the old “textual” traditions. Thus, according to our authors, it is the various hermeneutical traditions that saved Islam (or any other religion for that matter) from dogmatism—even though they note a fear of différance in the Islamic traditions. Shortly prior to publication, the authors have added an annex on Salman Rushdi’s The Satanic Verses, which is probably the best thing ever written on this highly controversial book. For one thing, the authors show quite convincingly that Rushdi’s knowledge of his “Islamic material” was very close to the “authoritative sources” of Islam.


Smadar Lavie, The Poetics of Military Occupation. Mzeina Allegories of Bedouin Identity Under Israeli and Egyptian Rule (California University Press, 1990). This book, based on extensive fieldwork in the South Sinai desert, borrows several post-modernist and deconstructionist approaches from literary criticism and creatively applies them to the Mzeina Bedouins. Thus the book is constructed around several “allegorical characters”—the Shaykh, the mad-woman, the old-woman, the ex-smuggler, and the “one who writes about us,” i.e. the author herself who decided at one point to leave the Bedouins and write about them at Berkeley. The “allegorical characters” are supposed to show the Bedouins-in-transition between their old kinship and survival oriented ideology towards “modernity,” i.e. the male Bedouins as part of a cheap and under-paid Israeli labor-force. Her text is juxtaposed with large “dialogues”—or “interviews”—to emphasize the author’s “textual” approach: translate practices into “texts” with meaning.


Lila Abu-Lughod, Veiled Sentiments. Honor and Poetry in a Bedouin Society (University of California Press, 1986), reflects on the politics of sentiment and the relationship between ideology and human experience.


Virginia R. Domínguez, People as Subject, People as Object. Selfhood and Peoplehood in Contemporary Israel (Wisconsin University Press, 1989).


11. Gender, Women, The Family & Sexuality


Lois Beck and Nikki Keddie, eds., Women in the Muslim World (Cambridge University Press, 1978).


Judith Tucker, ed., Arab Women. Old Boundaries, New Frontiers (Indiana University Press, 1993).


Fatima Mernissi, Beyond the Veil. Male-Female Dynamics in Modern Muslim Society (Indiana University Press, 1987).


Leslie P. Peirce, The Imperial Harem. Women and Sovereignty in the Ottoman Empire (Oxford University Press, 1993), examines the sources of the unprecedented political power of the Ottoman imperial harem in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries and assesses the reactions of contemporaries, which ranged from loyal devotion to armed opposition.