Arab Studies Journal
ARAB STUDIES JOURNAL
VOL. XV, NO. 2 (Fall 2017)
In this issue, we are proud to feature a series of groundbreaking interventions. Ifdal Elsaket explores anti-Blackness in Egypt through the genre of “jungle films.” She lays bare the racial and imperial fantasies that informed these films’ popularity. Elsaket exposes a process of racialization through which Egyptians positioned themselves as superior and modern, at a time when Egypt’s claims to Sudan took on a greater urgency and Blackness marked otherness. This deeply engrained vision of Africa as a place of inferiority would continue to inflect film and visual culture long after decolonization.
Suhad Daher-Nashif interrogates the national-civic service which has successfully targeted young Palestinian women who are citizens in Israel. Her ethnographic study carefully details the complex web of considerations, interests, and strategies that shape the national-civic service as a “trapped escape.” Women’s participation in the service reveals the mutually constitutive nature of Israeli colonial and Palestinian social structures. By showing how women use a colonial apparatus to escape patriarchal norms Daher-Nashif rethinks Palestinian experience in Israel as well as the imposition of and resistance to gender norms more broadly.
Nisa Ari explores the interaction between local and foreign artistic communities in early twentieth century Palestine. She focuses on the work of Palestinian artist Nicoal Saig (1863-1942) who copied photographs that the American Colony Photo Department (ACPD) produced. The relationship between Saig and the ACPD, Ari shows, reveals a multidirectional artistic exchange between local and foreign. She uncovers a world in which a diverse group of artistic agents employed different practices, produced and sold religious representations and object, and formed a vibrant economic market in late nineteenth and early twentieth century Palestine.
Tamer ElGindi tackles the World Bank’s assessment of the massive uprisings that rocked Egypt and Tunisia as “puzzles,” given both countries’ achievements in poverty rates, access to education, child and maternal mortality, and infrastructure services. Through a close reading of various inequality measures from the developmentalist era of Gamal Abdel Nasser to the subsequent neoliberal eras of Anwar al-Sadat and Husni Mubarak, ElGindi shows that macroeconomic improvements never “trickled down.” Energy and food subsidy systems in particular benefited the wealthiest instead of targeting the needy. He urges for a comprehensive understanding and measurement (of the monetary and the non-monetary) as a prerequisite to understanding and ameliorating inequality.
Manfred Sing revisits the wave of Arab social criticism that marked intellectual life after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Through a careful rereading of five intellectuals Sadiq Jalal al-‘Azm, Yasin al-Hafiz, Mustafa Hijazi, Nawal El Saadawi, and Hisham Sharabi, Sing traces the normative shift in Marxist thought away from a critique of capitalist society and towards theorizing the absence or failure of revolutionary mass movements. Following neither the admirers of Arab criticism nor their countercritics, Sing maps a social criticism that was timely, provocative, polemic, disenchanted, and marred by heuristic fallacies. This issue also features the usual robust array of book reviews.
Arab Studies Journal (ASJ) is a peer-reviewed, multi-disciplinary research publication in the field of Arab and Middle East Studies. ASJ is published by the Arab Studies Institute (ASI) and is housed in the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. ASJ content is determined by the Arab Studies Journal's Editorial Review Board (below) in conjunction with its Editorial team, and is distributed by Tadween Publishing.
Editorial Review Board: Lila Abu Lughod, As‘ad AbuKhalil, Nadje al-Ali, Sinan Antoon, Walter Armbrust, Rochelle Davis, Ellen Fleischmann, William Granara, Lisa Hajjar, Rema Hammami, Michael Hudson, Wilson Chacko Jacob, Toby Jones, Zachary Lockman, Timothy Mitchell, Kirsten Scheid, Judith Tucker, Robert Vitalis.
Founding Editor - Bassam Haddad
Editor - Sherene Seikaly
Senior Editors - Ziad Abu-Rish, Allison Brown, Dina Ramadan
Managing Editor - Lizette Baghdadi
Associate Editors - Chris Toensing
Book Review Managing Editor - Allison Brown and Charles Anderson
Book Review Editors - Naira Antoun, Samuel Dolbee, Muriam Haleh Davis, Aaron Jakes, Anjali Kamat, Matthew MacLean, Amir Moosavi, Ahmad Shokr, Elizabeth Williams
Business Manager - Kylie Broderick
Circulation Manager - Kylie Broderick
Research & Development Manager - John Warner
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© 2017 Arab Studies Journal. Printed in the USA. ISSN # 1083-4753.