Our editors look forward to meeting their authors at conferences every year and are sad to be missing out on that this year. The annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association has gone virtual this year. We know that many of you look forward to stocking up on new books at special discounts at our conferences, so we are pleased to extend a 50% discount on all in-stock books and journal issues with coupon code MESA20.
Instead of greeting Editor Elizabeth Ault in person this year, check out her recommendations for new titles in the discipline and a great round up of other ways to learn about all the new scholarship that was to be presented at the conference.
Greetings, MESA-goers!! While I can’t say I’m sad to be missing another conference at the Wardman Park Marriott, I am definitely going to struggle to recreate the delightful and spirited encounters that have been the norm at MESA in my first few years of joining with youall. Not to mention the dance party! I’m so impressed by the work the planning committee has done to move panels (…and maybe the dance party??) online and look forward to seeing you there! We definitely need the politically astute, historically rigorous, and deeply engaged scholarship that I’ve been grateful to find centered in my experience of MESA so far. In particular, I’m looking forward to panels that reflect on the recent disaster in Beirut, and that continue to find creative conversations about race, gender, and sexuality in the region.
While we won’t have the impromptu encounters on the dance floor or in the book room, we still have lots of new books and journal issues to share with you this year. You can check out the full slate of new books and journals, including special issues of Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies and Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East here.
But as always, there are some books I’d like to highlight. Two new books from the Theory in Forms series, edited by Achille Mbembe and Nancy Rose Hunt, speak powerfully to the current political moment. Fadi Bardawil’s Revolution and Disenchantment revisits the debates about revolutionary theory, revolutionary practice, and the limits of nationalism that animated the Arab New Left in Lebanon and beyond.
In The Colonizing Self (out in December), Hagar Kotef centers the role of indigenous displacement and settler violence to the Israeli sense of self, Kotef offers an important reflection on the possibilities of living amid destruction. As Laleh Khalili says, the book shows how “homes, relics and ruins, organic farming, and even convivial hospitality become…the very sites through which the settler colonial force of the Israeli state expands and consolidates its power.”
Another great book on Palestine, Christopher Harker’s Spacing Debt, also out in December, retheorizes debt as a form of slow violence enacted against Palestinians, and traces their strategies of resistance and endurance.
We also have a couple of new books that consider contemporary Persian culture across Iran and the diaspora: Sima Shakhsari’s Politics of Rightful Killing is a digital ethnography that looks back to “Weblogistan,” the imagined community of tens of thousands of transnational Iranian bloggers (mostly outside of Iran) that took shape post-9/11. Shakhsari’s work shows how Weblogistan became a window for both surveillance on Iranian society and dissemination of neoliberal discourses about democracy. With its focus on how national and neoliberal gendered subjectivities are produced, it’s an important reminder about the limits of cyber-optimism.
Like Shaksari’s bloggers, the L.A.-based musicians of Farzaneh Hemmasi’s Tehrangeles Dreaming are able to express modes of Iranian-ness not possible in Iran. (This is definitely a winner of one of my personal design awards for its amazing ‘80s cassette aesthetic and Matt Tauch’s rad new DUP logo).
And my wonderful colleague Sandra Korn, Assistant Editor acquiring in Religion, has this to add:
I’m excited to recommend two important new books that focus on the global rise of Islamophobia. First, The Moral Triangle by Sa’ed Atshan and Katherina Galor considers how Germans, Israelis, and Palestinians living in Berlin navigate politicized conversations around Israel-Palestine. The co-authors call for a politics of solidarity that can reckon with multiple forms of trauma: Holocaust and Nakba, antisemitism and Islamophobia. Next, Hindutva as Political Monotheism by Anustup Basu considers how Western political theology inspired and shaped the right-wing Hindu nationalism that dominates Narendra Modi’s anti-Muslim government today.
Sandra and I send our best to all of you and look forward to connecting online. Stay safe and take good care in the meantime.
If you were hoping to connect with Elizabeth, Sandra, or another of our editors about your book project at MESA, please reach out to them by email. See our editors’ specialties and contact information here and our online submissions guidelines here.