Sunday, March 15, 2009

New & Noteworthy Books, Recently Added to مكتبة الأنذلون (Anzalone Library)

"The war in Iraq was supposed to be easy. Instead it has delivered the message that Islamic resistance and martyrdom can defeat the only remaining superpower, just as jihadists drove the Soviet Union from Afghanistan during the 1980s. Now a haven for jihadists, Iraq has entered a civil war whose duration, scope, and magnitude have yet to be determined.

The overwhelming majority of suicide attacks in Iraq have targeted Iraqi security forces and Shia civilians, not coalition forces. The perpetrators appear to be largely non-Iraqi volunteers. Many are from Saudi Arabia, but substantial numbers have come from Europe, Syria, Kuwait, Jordan and North Africa. They are foiling U.S. plans to stabilize the country and turn it into a democratic regime and an ally in a region of religious radicalism, entrenched authoritarianism, and hostile states with nuclear ambitions.

Understanding the phenomenon of suicide bombing in Iraq is therefore vitally important for U.S. national security, foreign policy in the Muslim world, and the war on terrorism. This study, the first of its kind on the Iraqi insurgency, draws extensively on open-source intelligence and papers of record, primary sources from insurgent groups including online documents and videos, and interviews with U.S. servicemen who have served in Iraq. It examines the history of suicide bombing in Iraq and many other countries, theoretical perspectives on suicide bombing, the varied factions that comprise the insurgency, the ideology and theology of martyrdom supporting suicide bombers, their national origins and characteristics, and the prospects for a “third generation” of transnational jihadists forged in the crucible of Iraq." BUY HERE.

"During the 45 years of the Cold War, policymakers from the United States and the Soviet Union vied for primacy in the Middle East. Their motives, long held by historians to have had an ideological thrust, were, in fact, to gain control over access to oil and claim geographic and strategic advantage. In his new book, Rashid Khalidi, considered the foremost U.S. historian of the Middle East, makes the compelling case that the dynamics that played out during the Cold War continue to exert a profound influence even decades after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The pattern of superpower intervention during the Cold War deeply affected and exacerbated regional and civil wars throughout the Middle East, and the carefully calculated maneuvers fueled by the fierce competition between the United States and the USSR actually provoked breakdowns in fragile democracies. To understand the momentous events that have occurred in the region over the last two decades-including two Gulf wars, the occupation of Iraq, and the rise of terrorism-we must, Khalidi argues, understand the crucial interplay of Cold War powers there from 1945 to 1990.

Today, the legacy of the Cold War continues in American policies and approaches to the Middle East that have shifted from a deadly struggle against communism to a War on Terror, and from opposing the Evil Empire to targeting the Axis of Evil. The current U.S. deadlock with Iran and the upsurge of American-Russian tensions in the wake of the conflict in Georgia point to the continued centrality of the Middle East in American strategic attention. Today, with a new administration in Washington, understanding and managing the full impact of this dangerous legacy in order to move America toward a more constructive and peaceful engagement in this critical arena is of the utmost importance." BUY HERE.


"Gary R. Bunt provides a fascinating account of the issues at stake, identifying two radical new concepts: firstly, the emergence of e-jihad ('Electronic Jihad') originating from diverse Muslim perspectives -- this is described in its many forms relating to the different definitions of 'jihad', including on-line activism (ranging from promoting militaristic activities to hacking to co-ordinating peaceful protests) and Muslim expression post 9/11; secondly, he discusses religious authority on the Internet -- including the concept of on-line fatwas and their influence in diverse settings, and the complexities of conflicting notions of religious authority. Highlighting contradictory and diverse concepts of 'Islamic' authority in this way, Islam in the Digital Age offers a unique insight into contemporary Muslim cultures in a post-9/11 context. "

"This book is a sustained record of Hamid Dabashi’s reflections over many years on the question of authority and the power to represent. Who gets to represent whom and by what authority? When initiated in the most powerful military machinery in human history, the United States of America, already deeply engaged in Afghanistan and Iraq, such militant acts of representation speak voluminously of a far more deeply rooted claim to normative and moral agency, a phenomenon that will have to be unearthed and examined. In his groundbreaking book, Orientalism, Edward Said traced the origin of this power of representation and the normative agency that it entails to the colonial hubris that carried a militant band of mercenary merchants, military officers, Christian missionaries, and European Orientalists around the globe, which enabled them to write and represent the people they thus sought to rule. The insights of Edward Said in Orientalism went a long way in explaining conditions of domination and representation from the classical colonial period in the 18th and 19th century to the time that he wrote his landmark study in the mid 1970’s. Though many of his insights still remain valid, Said’s observations need to be updated and mapped out to the events that led to the post-9/11 syndrome. Dabashi’s book is not as much a critique of colonial representation as it is of the manners and modes of fighting back and resisting it. This is not to question the significance of Orientalism and its principal concern with the colonial acts of representation, but to provide a different angle on Said’s entire oeuvre, an angle that argues for the primacy of the question of postcolonial agency. In Dabashi’s tireless attempt to reach for a mode of knowledge production at once beyond the legitimate questions raised about the sovereign subject and yet politically poignant and powerful, postcolonial agency is central. Dabashi’s contention is that the figure of an exilic intellectual is ultimately the paramount site for the cultivation of normative and moral agency with a sense of worldly presence. For Dabashi the figure of the exilic intellectual is paramount to produce counter-knowledge production in a time of terror." BUY HERE.

"Lisa Wedeen, who spent a year and a half in Yemen observing and interviewing its residents, argues that national solidarity in such weak states tends to arise not from attachments to institutions but through both extraordinary events and the ordinary activities of everyday life. Yemenis, for example, regularly gather to chew qat, a leafy drug similar to caffeine, as they engage in wide-ranging and sometimes influential public discussions of even the most divisive political and social issues. These lively debates exemplify Wedeen’s contention that democratic, national, and pious solidarities work as ongoing, performative practices that enact and reproduce a citizenry’s shared points of reference. Ultimately, her skillful evocations of such practices shift attention away from a narrow focus on government institutions and electoral competition and toward the substantive experience of participatory politics." BUY HERE

"Laurence Louër brings her extensive knowledge of the Middle East to an analysis of the historical origins and present situation of Shia transnational networks. She focuses on three key countries in the gulf: Kuwait, Bahrain, and Saudi Arabia, whose Shia Islamic groups are the offspring of various Iraqi movements that have surfaced over recent decades. Louër explains how these groups first penetrated local societies by espousing the networks of Shiite clergymen. She then describes the role of factional quarrels and the Iranian revolution of 1979 in defining the present landscape of Shiite Islamic activism in the Gulf monarchies." BUY HERE

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