This book explores a critical and often neglected aspect of emigration from Middle Eastern countries. Rather than focusing on the policies of the states receiving Middle Eastern immigrants, Brand’s research studies the policies of those Middle Eastern states from which emigration originates. She attributes this neglect to the chauvinism of scholars writing from the Americas and Western Europe who have made their own countries the central actors of their research. Her other theoretical contribution is to challenge and deconstruct simplistic and outdated conceptions of state sovereignty. She selects four case studies (viz., Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan), noting each one’s varied levels of involvement in the expatriates’ lives, the emigrants’ different destinations, and the dissimilar relationships between the expatriates and their countries of origin. By bringing together four disparate cases in one book, Brand addresses the larger question of how emigration from states impacts the originating states’ conceptions of their own sovereignty.
In his peculiarly self-abasing preface to Animals in Islamic Tradition and Muslim Cultures, Richard Foltz speculates that the audience for his book will probably consist of “non-Muslims who are sympathetic to Muslim culture and interested in learning more about what it has to offer in terms of animal rights” (p. xii). This appears to be less of a prediction than a presupposition guiding the book. Appropriately, Animals in Islamic Tradition is a very broad outline of representations of non-human animals from the pre-Islamic era to the present in as many fields as a 192-page book can encompass. As a result, his study tends to be kaleidoscopic, treating each subject in a very general manner, hastily running through the basics and garnishing them with selected curiosities. For perhaps the same reason, the book is written in a very simple style, neither extremely engaging nor boringly obscure, and tends to provide summary rather than analysis.
This edited volume, along with David Westerlund’s edited Sufism in Europe and North America (RoutledgeCurzon: 2004), are pioneering works, since the systematic study of this topic is still in its infancy. Its introduction and nine chapters bring together anthropological, historical, Islamicist, and sociological perspectives on questions of identity as regards Sufism’s double marginalization within a non-Muslim majority environment and within the broader Islamic discourse. The Sufis’ need to position themselves against and reconcile themselves with a variety of others causes western Sufis to employ a fascinating kaleidoscope of strategies ranging from assimilation to confrontation and appropriation.
Perceptions of the “other” are a powerful force in day-to-day human interaction, as well as in domestic and international politics. Since the publication of Edward Said’s Orientalism almost three decades ago, many scholars have appropriated and debated his thesis about the reality-changing power of European (and American) discourses on Muslims and Arabs. In the book under review, Timothy Marr, professor of English in the American Studies Curriculum department at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, simultaneously broadens and criticizes Said’s ideas.
There is a striking lack of studies on the Palestinian diaspora. Undoubtedly the pioneering work of Edward Said (“Reflections on Exile,” in Out There: Marginalization and Contemporary Cultures, eds. Russell Ferguson [The MIT Press: 1990]) on exile and Rashid Khalidi (Palestinian Identity: The Construction of Modern National Consciousness [Columbia University Press: 1997]) both touch on many of the related issues of collective memory, cultural identity, and the relationship between the “center” (the homeland) and the diasporic communities and how these issues manifested themselves in the Palestinian case. More recently, Abbas Shiblak (Reflections on Palestinian Diaspora in Europe ), Sari Hanafi (Here and There: Analyses of the Relationship between Diaspora and the Centre [2001: in Arabic]), and Helena Schulz and Juliane Hammer (The Palestinian Diaspora: Formation of Identities and Politics of Homeland [Routledge: 2003]) explore different aspects of the Palestinian diaspora.
In the face of modernity and its erosion of traditional values, we need to preserve something of the wisdom of traditional culture. The traditional cultures have taken thousands of years to evolve and are necessary to preserve. They are the carriers of the accumulated wisdom of the people since Antiquity. They give man a sense of belonging, acceptance, and assurance. They enshrine the values, which define meaning, guide, motivate, and lead people to fulfillment. We find cultural traditions still alive in the rural communities of Southeast Asia. It is to these communities that we need to turn to guide us on our road to the future.
Muslims and Islam have been at the center of some of the most vital post-9/11 debates. In Europe, the controversy has intensified due to the conflation of the aforementioned discussions and the arguments currently raging in Europe surrounding European identity. In such parleys, the assumption has been that Muslims in Europe are an alien presence with a short and temporary history. This article seeks to demonstrate that historically speaking, this is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. The integration of Muslims and the recognition of Islam may take place through a variety of different ways owing to the specificities of individual European nation-states. However, they will need to consider the past precedents of the Muslim presence in order to appropriately organize the present and in looking to the future.
Daniel Martin Varisco’s Islam Obscured: The Rhetoric of Anthropological Representation provides a very sound and well-informed literary critique of Clifford Geertz’s Islam Observed (1968), Ernest Gellner’s Muslim Society (1981), Fatima Mernissi’s Beyond the Veil (1975), and Akbar Ahmed’s Discovering Islam (1988). The author, an experienced ethnographer of Middle Eastern societies, examines the treatments and representations of Islam in these seminal texts. After presenting his topic and background in the introduction, he demonstrates how these four authors obscured, misrepresented, and elided the everyday lives of Muslims. In the epilogue, Varisco gleans some important lessons for the study of Islam from his entertaining and witty exploration of these social science texts.
In post-9/11 America, the necessity for a comprehensive study of transnational Muslim communities, as well as their identities and dynamics within American society, is filled by Aminah Beverly McCloud’s Transnational Muslims in American Society. This comprehensive study examines a cross section of Muslim communities in diaspora and exile, from the Palestinians to the Iranians to the very small community of Muslim Chinese. The author’s examination, which loosely relies on notoriously vague immigration records, first-person interviews, and clever anecdotes, is also coupled with a general history and overview of Islam and the individual communities. The brief histories of each community and its ethnic, cultural, and Islamic idiosyncrasies, placed at the beginning of each chapter, are particularly helpful. In addition, her nuanced analyses of women’s positions in the contexts of their own communities provides an important depth to the study.
There are nowadays a number of reasons to encourage sociologists to study culture in order to seek a deeper understanding of the nature and manifestations of culture in the behaviour of individuals and societies. Globalisation has become a hot topic for all at the beginning of the twenty-first century (al-Khuli 2000, p.515). In today’s world, economic globalisation is particularly prominent. But it is no exaggeration to say that most people on the five continents feel that cultural globalisation is even more present. The information and communication revolutions naturally play a decisive role in the greater prevalence of communication, which serves to disseminate the hallmarks of cultural globalisation to all corners of the globe, east, west, north and south.