SOAS University of London

London Middle East Institute

Publications by SMEI Members

Recent and forthcoming publications authored, co-authored and edited by SOAS academics and research associates.

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Faces of the Infinite: Neoplatonism and Poetry at the Confluence of Africa, Asia and Europe

Edited by Stefan Sperl and Yorgos Dedes
Oxford University Press, 2022

Neoplatonism, the dominant philosophy of Late Antiquity, inspired not only the intellectual traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam but also their arts. Neoplatonic notions of the ascent of the soul, the nature of love and beauty, divine immanence and transcendence, and the interplay between the many and the One, have for centuries left comparable marks on the poetry of Western Asia, North Africa and Europe. This volume focuses on the Greater Mediterranean and discusses authors who wrote in Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Persian, Spanish and Turkish, from medieval times to the present day. Among them are many celebrated exponents of their respective classical traditions, including Dante, Ibn Arabi and Ibn Gabirol. Major contemporary poets writing in these languages have continued to engage with the Neoplatonic heritage assimilated by their forbears. Particular attention is therefore given also to the modern period.
The findings gathered here demonstrate that Neoplatonism is a cross-cultural phenomenon of outstanding importance which has given rise to a distinct 'Neoplatonic poetics' and remains relevant by pointing the way towards an inclusive sense of identity commensurate with a pluralist world.

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The Routledge Handbook on the Middle East Economy

Edited by Hassan Hakimian
Routledge, 2021

This Handbook captures the salient features of Middle Eastern economies and critically examines the public policy responses required to address the challenges and opportunities across the region. Bringing together wide-ranging perspectives from carefully selected and renowned subject specialists, the collection fills a gap in this relatively young and growing academic field.

Combining discussion of theory and empirical evidence, the book maps out the evolution of Middle East economics as a field within area studies and applied development economics. Presented in six thematic sections, the book enables the reader to gain a comprehensive understanding of the region’s main economic themes and issues:

  • Growth and development in comparative perspectives
  • Labour force and human development
  • Natural resources, resource curse and trade
  • Poverty, inequality and social policy
  • Institutions and transition to democracy
  • Corruption, conflict and refugees

Providing an overview of the principal economic problems, policies and performances relating to the countries in the Middle East and North Africa region, this collection will be a key resource for upper-level undergraduates, graduates and scholars with an interest in Middle East economics, applied development economics, development studies and area studies.

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Iran and Palestine: Past, Present, Future

Seyed Ali Alavi
Routledge, 2020

Examining the nature of relations between Iran and Palestine, this book investigates the relationship between state and authorities in the Middle East.

Analysing the connections of the Iranian revolutionary movements, both the Left and the Islamic camps’ perspectives are scrutinized. To provide a historical background to the post-revolutionary period, the genealogy of pro-Palestinian sentiments before 1979 are traced additionally.

Demonstrating the pro-Palestinian stance of post-revolutionary Iran, the study focuses on the causes of roots of the ideological outlook and the interest of the state. Despite a growing body of literature on the Iranian Revolution and its impacts on the region, Iran’s connection with Palestine have been overlooked. This new volume fills the gap in the literature and enables readers to unpack the history of the two states.

IMG - Yair Wallach Book

A City in Fragments: Urban Text in Modern Jerusalem

Yair Wallach
Stanford University Press, 2020

A City in Fragments tells the modern history of a city overwhelmed by its religious and symbolic significance. Yair Wallach walked the streets of Jerusalem to consider the graffiti, logos, inscriptions, official signs, and ephemera that transformed the city over the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. As these urban texts became a tool in the service of capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism, the affinities of Arabic and Hebrew were forgotten and these sister-languages found themselves locked in a bitter war. Looking at the writing of—and literally on—Jerusalem, Wallach offers a creative and expansive history of the city, a fresh take on modern urban texts, and a new reading of the Israel/Palestine conflict through its material culture.

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The Kaʿba Orientations: Readings in Islam’s Ancient House

Simon O'Meara
Edinburgh University Press, 2020

Explores the Kaʿba as it has been conceptualised, represented and used by Muslims from the earliest period of Islam onwards.

  • The first book-length exploration of the Kaʿba in a Western language
  • Explains what the Kaʿba is by examining how it functions architecturally and is represented culturally
  • Each chapter pursues a different aspect of the Kaʿba, presenting new findings and arguments
  • Extensively illustrated, including a number of rarely reproduced images

What is the Kaʿba and why it is pivotal to the Islamic world? Why do pilgrims go about it, not in it? Is it empty? And why is a hollow building covered in black silk?

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A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine

Lori Allen
Stanford University Press, 2020

This book offers a provocative retelling of Palestinian political history through an examination of the international commissions that have investigated political violence and human rights violations. More than twenty commissions have been convened over the last century, yet no significant change has resulted from these inquiries. The findings of the very first, the 1919 King-Crane Commission, were suppressed. The Mitchell Committee, convened in the heat of the Second Intifada, urged Palestinians to listen more sympathetically to the feelings of their occupiers. And factfinders returning from a shell-shocked Gaza Strip in 2008 registered their horror at the scale of the destruction, but Gazans have continued to live under a crippling blockade.

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The Colonizing Self: Or, Home and Homelessness in Israel/Palestine

Hagar Kotef
Duke University Press, 2020

Colonizers continuously transform spaces of violence into spaces of home. Israeli Jews settle in the West Bank and in depopulated Palestinian houses in Haifa or Jaffa. White missionaries build their lives in Africa. The descendants of European settlers in the Americas and Australia dwell and thrive on expropriated indigenous lands. In The Colonizing Self Hagar Kotef traces the cultural, political, and spatial apparatuses that enable people and nations to settle on the ruins of other people's homes. Kotef demonstrates how the mass and structural modes of violence that are necessary for the establishment and sustainment of the colony dwell within settler-colonial homemaking, and through it shape collective and individual identities. She thus powerfully shows how the possibility to live amid the destruction one generates is not merely the possibility to turn one's gaze away from violence but also the possibility to develop an attachment to violence itself. Kotef thereby offers a theoretical framework for understanding how settler-colonial violence becomes inseparable from one's sense of self.

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Foreign Policy as Nation Making: Turkey and Egypt in the Cold War

Reem Abou-El-Fadl
Cambridge University Press, 2018

Part of The Global Middle East series

After the Second World War, Turkey and Egypt were among the most dynamic actors in the Middle East. Their 1950s foreign policies presented a puzzle, however: Turkey's Democrat Party pursued NATO membership and sponsored the pro-Western Baghdad Pact regionally, while Egypt's Free Officers promoted neutralism and pan-Arab alliances. This book asks why: what explains this divergence in a shared historical space? Rethinking foreign policy as an important site for the realisation of nationalist commitments, Abou-El-Fadl finds the answer in the contrasting nation making projects pursued by the two leaderships, each politicised differently through experiences of war, imperialism and underdevelopment. Drawing on untapped Turkish and Arabic sources, and critically engaging with theories of postcolonial nationalism, she emphasises local actors' agency in striving to secure national belonging, sovereignty and progress in the international field. Her analysis sheds light on the contemporary legacies of the decade which cemented Turkey's position in the Western Bloc and Egypt's reputation as Arab leader.

IMG - Adam Hanieh Book

Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East

Adam Hanieh
Cambridge University Press, 2018

Part of The Global Middle East series

Framed by a critical analysis of global capitalism, this book examines how the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council are powerfully shaping the political economy of the wider Middle East. Through unprecedented and fine-grained empirical research - encompassing sectors such as agribusiness, real estate, finance, retail, telecommunications, and urban utilities - Adam Hanieh lays out the pivotal role of the Gulf in the affairs of other Arab states. This vital but little recognised feature of the Middle East's political economy is essential to understanding contemporary regional dynamics, not least of which is the emergence of significant internal tensions within the Gulf itself. Bringing fresh insights and a novel interdisciplinary approach to debates across political economy, critical geography, and Middle East studies, this book fills an important gap in how we understand the region and its place in the global order.

IMG - Nimer Sultany Book

Law and Revolution: Legitimacy and Constitutionalism After the Arab Spring

Nimer Sultany
Oxford University Press, 2018

Taking the Arab Spring as its case study, this book explores the role of law and constitutions during societal upheavals, and critically evaluates the different trajectories they could follow in a revolutionary setting. It urges a rethinking of major categories in political, legal, and constitutional theory in light of the Arab Spring. The book is a novel and comprehensive examination of the constitutional order that preceded and followed the Arab Spring in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Morocco, Jordan, Algeria, Oman, and Bahrain. Drawing on a wide range of primary sources, including an in-depth analysis of recent court rulings in several Arab countries, the book illustrates the contradictory roles of law and constitutions. The book also contrasts the Arab Spring with other revolutionary situations and demonstrates how the Arab Spring provides a laboratory for examining scholarly ideas about revolutions, legitimacy, legality, continuity, popular sovereignty, and constituent power.

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Psycho-nationalism: Global Thought, Iranian Imaginations

Arshin Adib-Moghaddam
Cambridge University Press, 2017

Part of The Global Middle East series

States routinely and readily exploit the grey area between sentiments of national affinity and hegemonic emotions geared to nationalist aggression. In this book, Arshin Adib-Moghaddam focuses on the use of Iranian identity to offer a timely exploration into the psychological and political roots of national identity and how these are often utilised by governments from East to West. Examining this trend, both under the Shah as well as by the governments since the 1979 Iranian revolution, Adib-Moghaddam's analysis is driven by what he terms 'psycho-nationalism', a new concept derived from psychological dynamics in the making of nations. Through this, he demonstrates how nationalist ideas evolved in global history and their impact on questions of identity, statecraft and culture. Psycho-nationalism describes how a nation is made, sustained and 'sold' to its citizenry and will interest students and scholars of Iranian culture and politics, world political history, nationalism studies and political philosophy.

Gaza as Metaphor Image

Gaza as Metaphor

Edited by Dina Matar and Helga Tawil-Souri
Hurst, 2016

Open-air Prison, Terror, Resistance, Occupation, Siege, Trauma: irrespective of when, where, and to whom the word is uttered, ‘Gaza’ immediately evokes an abundance of metaphors. Similarly, a host of metaphors also recall Gaza: Crisis, Exception, Refugees, Destitution, Tunnels, Persistence. This book brings together journalists, writers, doctors, academics and others, who use metaphor to record and historicise Gaza, to contextualise its everyday realities, interrogate its representations and provide an understanding of its real and symbolic significance. Offering perspectives from residents and observers, these essays touch on life and survival, the making of the Gaza Strip and its increasing isolation, the discursive and visual tools that have often obscured the real Gaza, and explore what Gaza contributes to our understanding of exception, inequality, dispossession, bio-politics, necro-power and other terms which we rely on to make sense of our world.

IMG - Hagar Kotef Book 1

Movement and the Ordering of Freedom: On Liberal Governances of Mobility

Hagar Kotef
Duke University Press, 2015

We live within political systems that increasingly seek to control movement, organized around both the desire and ability to determine who is permitted to enter what sorts of spaces, from gated communities to nation-states. In Movement and the Ordering of Freedom, Hagar Kotef examines the roles of mobility and immobility in the history of political thought and the structuring of political spaces. Ranging from the writings of Locke, Hobbes, and Mill to the sophisticated technologies of control that circumscribe the lives of Palestinians in the Occupied West Bank, this book shows how concepts of freedom, security, and violence take form and find justification via “regimes of movement.” Kotef traces contemporary structures of global (im)mobility and resistance to the schism in liberal political theory, which embodied the idea of “liberty” in movement while simultaneously regulating mobility according to a racial, classed, and gendered matrix of exclusions.