In the midst of recent events in the Middle East, YUP is offering a special look at the books that cover religion, politics, and culture of the region, and our authors who are active in contributing to these discussions.
Last month, Marwan Muasher gave a talk at Yale as part of the Jackson Senior Fellows Lecture Series, titled “The Arab World in Crisis: Redefining Arab Moderation.” As a top-ranked diplomat, Muasher has held many high-level positions within the government of Jordan, including Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Ambassador to the United States, and first Jordanian Ambassador to Israel. He is the author of The Arab Center: The Promise of Moderation, written prior his appointment as a fellow at Yale’s Jackson Institute for Global Affairs. His recent talk readdresses the issues he presents in his book—the promise and perils of taking the “middle road” toward peace in the Middle East and what must be done to encourage the development of moderate, pragmatic Arab voices—and on YouTube, there is a full lecture from a similar talk he gave that was sponsored by the International Development Research Centre.
For Women’s History Month, we have a forthcoming study of the political and cultural history of the veil over the past half century: A Quiet Revolution: The Veil’s Resurgence, from the Middle East to America, written by Leila Ahmed, the first professor of Women's Studies in Religion at Harvard University and currently the Victor S. Thomas Professor of Divinity at Harvard’s Divinity School. Ahmed was raised by a generation of women who never dressed in the veils and headscarves their mothers and grandmothers had worn. To them, these coverings seemed irrelevant to both modern life and Islamic piety. Today, however, the majority of Muslim women throughout the Islamic world again wear the veil. Why, she asks, did this change take root so swiftly, and what does this shift mean for women, Islam, and the West? When she began her study, Ahmed assumed that the veil's return indicated a backward step for Muslim women worldwide. What she discovered, however, in the stories of British colonial officials, young Muslim feminists, Arab nationalists, pious Islamic daughters, American Muslim immigrants, violent jihadists, and peaceful Islamic activists, confounded her expectations, reaching surprising conclusions about contemporary Islam's place in the West today.
And in looking back on Egypt, where so much action at the start of this year has sparked movement across social media and traditional news outlets—oh, and something of a revolution, too?—we have Egyptian journalist, Tarek Osman, with his newly published book: Egypt on the Brink: From Nasser to Mubarak. His prescient analysis foretold the roles that young Egyptians assumed in determining the future of their nation. The chapter “Young Egyptians” is part of YUP’s “Crisis in the Arab World” free book sampler, also featuring chapters from Algeria: Anger of the Dispossessed, by Martin Evans and John Phillips, and Yemen: Dancing on the Heads of Snakes, by Victoria Clark, both areas where similar uprisings have begun to stir. The sampler is now available for free download with your choice of PDF, Kindle, and ePub files.