Geoffrey Gunn is professor of international relations in the faculty of economics at Nagasaki University and a prolific author on subjects relating to Southeast Asian studies, with monographs on Cambodia, Macau, Brunei, Japan, Timor, and "the Malay World." With this volume, Gunn broadens his academic scope and endeavors to join the ranks of world historians such as R. Bin Wong, Kenneth Pomeranz, and the late Andre Gunder Frank in looking to European interactions with Asian societies for key factors that led to the "rise of the West." Gunn argues that, by focusing on economic factors in early modern Europeans' contacts with Asia, others have overlooked the equally important exchange of ideas. The result of this exchange was more than just "Westernization" in parts of Asia; Gunn locates the rise of the West in the unequal intellectual exchange between Europe and Asia ("the Eurasian exchange"). This is what Gunn refers to as the "first globalization": the "creolization" of Eurasian cultures brought about by the unprecedented global mobility of the early modern age.
Gunn's introduction clearly establishes the ambitious goals of this volume. He seeks to address a number of important questions, such as how ideas moved between the East and the West, who were the primary agents in their dissemination, and why some peoples, especially those in Europe, eagerly incorporated Asian knowledge, while Asians were more selective in their willingness to accept new ideas. He argues that European cosmology was irrevocably transformed following Galileo's successful challenge of the geocentric model. This left European thinkers eager to investigate the new ideas presented in the growing canon of European travel literature, a genre that, as Gunn effectively demonstrates, became increasingly popular in early modern European literary circles. In contrast, Asian thinkers were less tempted to embrace, study, or even write about the cultural heritage of the relatively small number of European sailors to make their way to Asian shores between 1500 and 1800.
Gunn has sifted through an impressive body of early modern European travel literature in his quest for evidence of the Eurasian intellectual exchange, and he has presented his findings in ten chapters, organized by subject. Chapter themes vary widely and include "The Discovery Canon," "Historical Confabulators and Literary Geographers," "Observations on Nature," "Catholic Cosmologies," "Mapping Eurasia," "Enlightenment Views of Asian Governance," "Civilizational Encounters," "Livelihoods," "Language, Power, and Hegemony in European Oriental Studies," and "A Theory of Global Culturalization." Each of these chapters is divided into numerous short discussions, some of which are considerably more useful than others. For example, in chapter 4, Gunn delivers a short but interesting summary of the Jesuits' establishment of printing presses in various parts of Asia and the role these presses played in the production and dissemination of knowledge (86–94). But elsewhere Gunn's discussion is more superficial, and many important subjects receive little more than one page ("The Rise of a European Map Culture," "The Mongol Exchange," "The Sinic View of the Universe," and "Chinese Rejection of Western Science," to mention just a few). It might have been useful to offer a critical analysis of the impact that this travel literature had on early modern European scientific and cultural achievements, such as how "Asian knowledge" contributed to the development of European fields of study. For example, the chapter "Enlightenment Views of Asian Governance" mentions that the philosophes employed their understandings of Asia to further their own social and political agendas in Europe, but it establishes little more than that the philosophes were familiar with the European travel canon. Thus, "Montesquieu used both Tavernier and Chardin as source material, especially in the preparation of Letters of a Persian. Rousseau, likewise, had recourse to these sources" (155). Instead Gunn tends to assess the importance of particular volumes by counting the number of editions and translations issued.
Despite the title, this volume is not global in scope, nor is it concerned with all, or even most, of Eurasia. Gunn's examples only infrequently venture from maritime Southeast Asia, the area with which he is most familiar. Very little attention is directed to South Asia, the Middle East, Russia, or even Africa and the Western Hemisphere. This is a serious conceptual problem that undermines his...
When browsing bookstore shelves or academic stands that display books on Iran, it is quite improbable not to stop and peruse this work by Rudi Mathee. The title and cover illustration instantly arouse curiosity and interest, inviting the reader to explore notions about which he or she is sure to have previously held opinions, not to mention some level of personal experience. The chapter headings and inside illustrations further encourage a continuation of the exploration.
A complete reading of The Pursuit of Pleasure will reward the reader amply in many arenas. Divided into chapters that deal with Safavid and Qajar histories chronologically, and thematically organized to address wine, opium, tea, coffee, and tobacco, the book offers a fascinating view of the uses of all the above in Safavid and Qajar Iran. Sensitive to economic and cultural factors, Mathee is careful to contextualize his discussion of each drug or stimulant within broader frameworks. Among these frameworks, one of the most significant is the continuous tension between secular and religious leadership. For each era that he addresses, Mathee draws attention to the ways in which the banning, release, control, or legislation of the drug or stimulant in question had to do with tensions and priorities within the structure of sovereignty itself as it interacted with religious ideals and authorities. In this way, the author makes more understandable one of the most complex topics in Safavid and Qajar Iranian history, which is precisely that of the coexistence of religious and secular patterns of behavior and thought. Equally important, he draws attention to patterns of economic development and interaction in the production and consumption of the drugs and stimulants.
Keeping these two broad terms (the interaction of the clergy and the king, as well as the shape of economic activity) active at all times, Mathee manages, often successfully, to offer the reader a number of captivating details on daily life and material culture as well. Anecdotes about specific drug- and wine-related incidents punctuate the book and tend to be quite entertaining even in the more grotesque cases. The material history of wine receptacles and qalyans (water pipes) is also traced to some extent, providing for highly interesting reading, especially for those who today enjoy both. Throughout, Mathee outlines the broad shape of historical forces at work in the background: foreign influences, the temperament and motives of the shah in power, the economic state of the place under discussion, and the particular conflicts that affected the nation. Mathee therefore fulfills the promise of the introduction that the study is in its broader scope "a social history of ways in which Iranians have approached drugs and stimulants since 1500, adapting them to their cultural environment or adapting their cultural environment to them" (6). The glimpses into daily life are absorbing, such as the elaborate rituals of hospitality, socialization, and power relations that have been built almost invisibly around the consumption of drugs and stimulants. One section of chapter 8, for example, describes the serving of refreshments in Qajar Iran and how richly this encoded the power structures inside the room.
One area where the study might have benefited from further clarification is the matter of sources. In his introduction and throughout the text, Mathee shows a fine alertness to the fact that sources, foreign or Iranian, are not always to be taken as hard data and that some anecdotes or claims may well be apocryphal or subject to doubt. At the same time, in the introduction (4) he attributes a "reflective detachment" to many foreign accounts of Iran especially before the nineteenth century, even if in a footnote he acknowledges that "ulterior motives" of eyewitness accounts ought to be considered. One would like to have more justification of this "detachment." Given his heavy reliance on accounts of Persia by residents or travelers such as Pietro Della Valle and Jean Chardin, as well as others, and on numerous Persian accounts and documents, the author might have expanded the framework for the use of sources to a greater degree. Given especially the book's potentially wide readership because of the engaging topic, many readers who are not conversant in Safavid and Qajar historiography might have benefited...
A fleet of thirteen Portuguese vessels under the command of Pedro Álvares Cabral set sail from Lisbon for the East Indies just two years after Vasco da Gama first rounded the Cape of Good Hope. In late May 1500, inclement weather at the Cape separated the vessel commanded by Diego Diaz from the others, blowing it well south of its intended course. Steering north to regain their way, Diaz and crew caught sight of land on 10 August along the coast of Anosy, Madagascar's southeast extremity (fig. 1). The day was the Feast of São Lourenço, and Diaz named the big island (Madagascar) for European cartography after the feast. As far as it is known, this was the first sighting of Madagascar by seafarers hailing directly from the Atlantic via the Cape route. European sailors and mapmakers continued to identify Madagascar as São Lourenço (Portuguese) and Saint-Laurent (French) for centuries to come. From the early decades of the sixteenth century to the French abandonment of Madagascar in 1674, Anosy in southeast Madagascar was an important site of European-Malagasy interaction. The meeting grounds of Anosy played a significant role in the early modern history of the southwest Indian Ocean, much as the Cape of Good Hope or Kilwa and Mombasa did, but they are poorly known outside a close circle of francophone Madagascar experts. At the same time little secondary literature on Anosy and its Europeans in any language is broad and comparative in outlook, setting them in wider and interconnected historical narratives of the region.
In part the early history of relations between the people of southeast Madagascar and transient Europeans is not well known by scholars of southeast Africa and the Indian Ocean because colonial linguistic legacies have separated francophone, lusophone, and anglophone scholarship in this region of overriding British influence from the late eighteenth century and in part because, espied across the waters by its neighbors, Madagascar can seem aloof from the main currents of the region's history and modern economies. Long-distance airline flights linking South Africa and Australia, Mauritius, and Southeast Asia, for example, sometimes leave their telltale vapor trails high over Anosy's coasts, dazzling children—including this author in his childhood—who often gather below to observe them. Madagascar has yet to appear in African history textbooks treating the early era of European ventures about the continent or as a regular component of graduate syllabi in southern and East African history.
It is tempting to hypothesize that no satisfying and broadly conceived synthetic histories of early Portuguese and French colonization in Madagascar exist because publications on the Big Island are typically specialized in some way or because European colonizing efforts foundered when thrown up against the hierarchical agrarian societies of Anosy. Intruders from the Atlantic could not incorporate or push the people of Anosy off into the interior, as they did at the Cape, or squeeze a manageable profit from them, as happened in many parts of South Asia where land and maritime trade in local products generated considerable wealth. The histories of colonial "successes" in settlement, production, and commerce in places such as the Cape, South Asia, the Mascarene Islands, and locations along the East African coast tend to populate early modern histories of the region and find pride of place in historical narratives of the western Indian Ocean. But colonial "failures" are as important to understanding a historical era as are successes, and in any case, success and failure are positioned, if not also rather coarse, judgments. Is little known about southeast Madagascar in the first centuries of European navigation in the Indian Ocean because the people of Anosy ultimately succeeded in preventing a permanent implantation of Atlantic foreigners on their territory?
There is relatively little work on Madagascar in Portuguese scholarship, which in the western reaches of the Indian Ocean is focused primarily on Mozambique, the East African coast, and India, key regions of the expansive Estado da India. The Big Island mostly remained on the periphery of this empire of commerce and religion, though parts of...
In 1844 the Mofussilite, an upcountry newspaper in India that was especially popular with army officers and civilians, printed an essay in which was repeated a report from the London Times lamenting the failure of Anglo-Indian society to take adequate notice of recent financial and commercial reverses in Britain. According to the Times, this was no mere oversight on the part of British expatriates in India; instead it was taken as proof that the Raj had yet to break free from what it termed its "politico military phase." This juxtaposition of a modern commercial society against a military empire draws attention to a paradox that underlies all efforts at understanding the nature and origins of colonial rule in India; namely, how could a commercial operation like the East India Company, which was so linked to the beginnings of precocious capitalism, not to mention the rise of Western dominance, become so deeply and apparently perpetually embroiled in costly warfare and continue to do so despite—or perhaps because of—the growth of modern industrial society in Britain? The tension identified by the Times also exposes the need to work through and move beyond the long-standing and exaggerated distinction that historians have drawn between maritime (read European and modern) empires and land-based (read Asian and premodern) empires, a differentiation that lies at the heart of the military revolution theory. The fact that Britain's Indian Empire was seen as being somehow out of step with metropolitan agendas illustrates the shortcomings of the conventional view that ties British expansion to seaborne commercial imperatives. While the distinction between sea-based and land-based empires may have had some currency in the early modern era, a time when British expansion was undoubtedly tied to naval power and driven by the search for overseas markets, the situation had grown more complex by the nineteenth century. By then, the British in India were very much a land-based empire, their focus having shifted from naval to military power, and their revenues were increasingly dependent on exploiting agrarian production and securing at least the tacit cooperation of large magnates rather than expanding trade networks and striking alliances with local capitalists. In other words, the nineteenth-century Raj was very much a hybrid regime, one that straddled what has hitherto been declared to be quite distinctively different types of empire, namely, European and Asian imperial formations. As C. A. Bayly has argued, the East India Company "taxed and counted like a western European state [and I would argue was the pioneer in many respects], but allowed many social functions to be monopolized by groups of indigenous administrators and landlords." One explanation for this hybridity lies in the way in which warfare conditioned the structures, practices, and ideologies of the colonial state, not to mention the resources at its disposal. As an observer ruefully noted in 1844, "It will, we think, be found that our century of dominion in the East has been one of unintermitted [sic] warfare, or something very like it."
The situation that these commentators described—one of almost constant warfare—can be traced back to the eighteenth century. Officials in India in 1766 had come to realize, albeit somewhat obliquely, that their position in India could be secured only by the application of military force. The Court of Directors, the highest authority in the East India Company, were warned by their council in Bengal in 1766: "To us it evidently appears, there remained but the alternative to advance as we have done and grasp at the whole power, or shrink back into our primitive condition of simple merchants; to abandon our possessions, disband our forces, and rest our future hopes on the clemency of Princes who will not easily forget or forgive the superiority we have maintained."
This then was the scenario that set the context for the rise of the garrison state. In its simplest formulation it is characterized by the pervasive presence of the military within the decision-making process, the priority given to the military in terms of resource allocation (military fiscalism) as well as the constant demands for revenues to support a burgeoning military establishment, and the emphasis placed...
As far as I know, this is the first publication that has ever dedicated a discussion to analyzing the comparisons, contrasts, and connections between the nineteenth-century British Indian Empire and the later Ottoman Empire. In this essay, I address the reasons for this gap in the historiography and the materials that already exist with which to begin to fill it. I then propose a tentative chronology for dealing with the convergences and contrasts between these two evolving polities in the age of imperialism.
The historiographical landscape is not completely empty, of course. In Indian Ocean studies, Jean Aubin, Michael Pearson, Sanjay Subrahmanyam, and Sugata Bose have sketched interregional commercial and ideological links between the ocean's littoral polities and commercial communities, some of which persisted into the twentieth century. Material generated by recent comparisons among the Mogul, Safavid, and early modern Ottoman regimes also holds some methodological significance for this exercise. Over the decades, the emphasis here has shifted from comparing similarities among the historical legacies of the "three empires," as in the work of Marshall Hodgson, to stressing difference. Recent studies have powerfully delineated these differences. For example, the central Ottoman lands within two hundred miles of Istanbul had long been more closely governed than even the Mogul Khalisa territories near Delhi and Agra. Autochthonous nobility was much less significant in the Ottoman Empire than in the Mogul. The military structure of the two empires bore only superficial and technical similarities after the decline of the mansabdar and timariot elites, respectively. The Mediterranean thrust of the Ottomans, with their large and relatively modern fleet, contrasted with the insignificance of Mogul naval power. Even in the late eighteenth century, the Maratha fleets and Bombay marine were small compared with Ottoman fleets. In some cases, such as the relatively greater importance of local nobility in India, these sharp differences persisted into the nineteenth century.
For the nineteenth century, when Western forms of government became influential, historians have discussed some more substantial points of comparison and connection between British India and the southern Ottoman provinces. Egypt remained part of the Ottoman Empire psychologically and constitutionally until 1914. But it was also heavily marked by South Asian colonial experience as a result of the British occupation of 1882. Roger Owen and Robert Tignor drew attention to the continuities between British Indian bureaucratic personnel and mentalities and those of British-occupied Egypt. Roger Owen's major new biography of Evelyn Baring, Lord Cromer, will again stress the Anglo-Indian origins of the British government in Egypt, especially in the financial sphere. I myself recently published an essay, in a book jointly edited with Leila Fawaz, comparing the literary and political "representations" of Egyptian Copts and Indian Muslims as colonial minorities in the 1900s.
These interregional analogies have probably been useful. But they have also implicitly highlighted once again the differences between post-Tanzimat Ottoman and British Indian governance. In occupied Egypt, for instance, powerful, centralized ministries directly controlled district officials. In India, especially in the paradigmatic Punjab, a more localized and paternalistic form of government prevailed. Much of the administrative and political history of Egypt between 1882 and 1914 could probably be reinterpreted as a collision and adjustment between the Tanzimat and Punjab systems of rule.
One other Ottoman region has thrown up a similar comparative historiography. Several works have considered the emergence of a British "informal empire" from the 1880s to the 1930s in what became Iraq. They have begun to delineate the strong connections between Bombay and Basra through the careers of Baghdadi Jewish and Muslim trading families in both regions. Here again, the Punjab looms large. Between 1913 and 1919, the British Indian army officer Arnold Wilson consciously pursued a policy of turning Mesopotamia into a second Jullunder Doab, as I briefly describe later in this essay. Finally, the central importance of the Khilafat for the later history of British India and the Ottoman Empire has been a focus of writing and research since Thomas Walker Arnold wrote on the subject in 1924. Modern historians from John Darwin to Gail Minault have taken up and reworked this theme since the 1970s.
The fact remains, however, that the wider, more theoretical...
On 19 October 1911 Ahmed 'İzzet Paşa, the commander in chief of the Ottoman military forces in Yemen, and the Zaydi imam al-Mutawakkil Yahya ibn Muhammad (d. 1948) signed an agreement at Da''an that made Yahya a dependent ruler and Zaydi community leader under Ottoman sovereignty. This agreement brought to a close more than two decades of fierce confrontation between the imam and his predecessors on one side and the imperial government in Istanbul on the other. Historians of Yemen have interpreted the Da''an agreement as Imam Yahya's first step toward building an independent Yemeni state, a goal that he would eventually realize in the years following the withdrawal of the Ottomans from southwest Arabia in the aftermath of World War I. In this article I demonstrate that this agreement and the political arrangements it ushered in also tell us something important about imperial governance in the late Ottoman Empire. More specifically, I argue that the negotiated settlement with the imam as well as the political struggles, controversies, and alternative schemes that preceded it were all integral parts of those politics of difference that came to demarcate the Province of Yemen as a subordinate, colonial space within the Ottoman imperial system.
From the 1860s, the Ottoman central government and its representatives made unprecedented attempts to implement throughout the empire a uniform system of administration, taxation, military recruitment, and education in order to ward off both the encroachments on the part of European imperial powers and separatist challenges at the domestic level. These efforts intensified during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II (1876–1909). Under the auspices of Ottomanism, which has often been interpreted as a form of official nationalism, the objective was to forge a population of loyal Ottoman subjects or protocitizens in order to make the empire more resilient against these external and internal pressures. To be sure, these attempts had started somewhat earlier in those parts of Ottoman Europe, Anatolia, and Ottoman Syria that the central government found easier to access and control. However, recent studies suggest that it was only at this stage that they also came to include some of the empire's external and internal peripheries, such as Ottoman Transjordan or present-day northern Albania.
The reconquest of large parts of southwest Arabia by Ottoman military forces in 1871–73 and the subsequent creation of the new Province of Yemen are part of this broader context. Following up on the occupation of Yemen's coastal plain (Tihama) in 1849, the imperial government reasserted its control over significant portions of an area that had been part of the empire for about a hundred years until Zaydi imams of the Qasimi line brought this earlier Ottoman presence to an end in the 1630s. Ottoman bureaucrats and military officers in Yemen resembled other imperial conquerors of this period in that they sought to legitimate their rule by representing the population of the newly established province as "savages" (vahşi) who were in need of being uplifted through the practices and institutions of the modern state. However, there is evidence that in marked contrast to their British, French, or Russian counterparts in India, West Africa, or Turkistan they initially did not intend to institutionalize what they recognized as the difference and cultural inferiority of the indigenous population and thus to create a rule of colonial difference. Rather, encouraged by what had been a series of quick and decisive victories over the most important local lords, Ottoman decision makers in Istanbul and Yemen appear to have been convinced that the process of integrating the local population into the Ottoman state would be completed within a relatively short period. To facilitate integration, they created all those administrative structures in the new province that, theoretically at least, could be found in every province of the empire. In January 1873 Ahmed Muhtar Paşa, the commander of the Ottoman expeditionary force and first governor-general of Yemen, notified the grand vizier that he had turned Yemen into an imperial province like all the others. Moreover, two Yemeni deputies were allowed to represent the newly created province in the first Ottoman parliament of 1876–78.
However, already by...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 360-376
The period immediately following the constitutional revolution of 1905–6 in Iran witnessed a flowering of political journalism. In addition to reporting on facts and reflecting both regional and international news, periodicals also played an important role in disseminating and debating diverse ideas that the constitutional movement had brought to the fore. Particular attention can be paid to how these periodicals reflected diverse views and how they created a new space for the expression of opinion. Political journalism further contributed to the diversity of political writing as well as to literary style and format and created new frameworks for relating them to one another. This too is an important dimension of the new genre's contribution to Iranian intellectual and political history that is worthy of attention. Furthermore, the proliferation of journalistic opinion was not always a result of political coherence or maturity, but at times was divorced of it, suggesting that the constitutional revolution had opened a new area in the public sphere that was now serving new experiments with style and satiating the appetite for expression.
However, a good deal of political journalism of the constitutional period remained committed to expressing political and social issues. The task of communicating political ills of the society and offering a vista for change took many forms to manifest and to be expressed, from dramatic denunciation of Iran's relatively backward position in a wider world of the early twentieth century, to criticizing stagnant absolutism and corruption of the Qajar state, to traditionalism and religious fanaticism. In the eyes of many reform-minded critics, now writing as physicians of the body politic, these were among the main causes of much social illness. Rejection of despotism, corruption, and traditionalism was also expressed through an innovative form of political satire.
As with most modern social and political upheavals and revolutions, the literature of the Iranian constitutional movement contains a rich and varied vein of satire in different forms: press articles, novels, tracts, and poems, articulating different stances in an exceptionally Janus-like historical phase. In this context, the production of political satire can be examined in a decade that heralded new beginnings (in terms of rapid expansion of mass media, growth of national and international public opinion, and cross-cultural borrowings and influences in humor, both in tone and format), as it simultaneously conveyed the sense of an ending (of, for example, strong implicit ties and immersion in classical Persian literature and hence the inclusion of subtle literary allusions and in-jokes, feasible in a small self-contained world built on personal connections and shared memories), all summed up under the broad concepts of modernity and tradition.
However, beyond such broad concepts a number of specific themes formed the main thrust as well as the content of political satire in the Iranian constitutional period. Here, a widely used method in the construction of satire was to convey a juxtaposition of different, and at times even opposing, types and allowing the stark dichotomy to speak directly to the reader. It is worth noting that the reception of satire contributed and at the same time reflected new types and modes of reading, offering new vistas whence social and political concerns could be aired and shared. In this sense satire was both educational and communicative at the same time.
The following sharply chiseled busts in the proconstitutional satirists' gallery offered suitable examples for the most frequent recurrent themes of such juxtapositions: members of the Qajar (1797–1925) nobility representing pomposity, sloth and venality; pseudomodernists who encouraged cultural alienation by aping European vogues; individuals in secretarial and bureaucratic professions, regardless of rank, portrayed as obedient martinets; Muslim clergymen, regardless of learning or social status, often epitomized as ossified and out of touch, obscurantist guides incapable of seeing a way forward; women acting as infants, neither involved nor relevant to the tumultuous events encompassing them...
In 1929, after a lecture by Arnold Toynbee (from the notes of Denison Ross, the first director of the School of Oriental and African Studies) on the subject of the modernization of the Middle East, a commentator said,
Persia has not been modernized and has not in reality been Westernized. Look at the map: there is Persia right up against Russia. For the past hundred years, living cheek by jowl with Russia, Persia has maintained her complete independence of Russian thought. Although sixty to seventy percent of her trade for the past hundred years has been with Russia, Persia remains aloof in spirit and in practice. For the past ten years, Persia has been living alongside the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics, and has remained free from any impregnation by their basic ideas. Her freedom is due to her cultural independence. For the safety of Persia it is essential, if she is to continue to develop on her own lines, that she should not attempt modernization, and I do not think that the attempt is being made. It is true that the Persians have adopted motor-cars and in small way railways. But let us remember that the Persians have always been in the forefront in anything of that sort. The first Eastern nation to enter the Postal Union and to adopt a system of telegraphs was Persia, which country was also among the first of the Eastern nations to join the League of Nations and to become an active member. The Persians have always been ready to adapt to their own peculiar needs any Western invention that seemed to suit them. But that does not mean that they are being Westernized, with one exception. Westernization is taking place in the sphere of law.
In 1936, an unidentified pundit had this to say about Iran in the pages of the Moslem World:
It used to be said of olden Persia that in it you could always find three things: princes, camels and fleas. The first have vanished utterly; the second, though still and rightly employed in certain parts, are far fewer than they were before the advent of the motor-car, the aeroplane, and the railway-train; and with the progressive introduction of hygienic ideas the third must be diminished by some millions. On all fronts, indeed, the Shah and his Ministers are waging a successful battle against the dead wood and redundance of the past. You can no more transform Iran in a night than you can build Rome in a day, but in less than two decades the Shah (may his days be prolonged!) has very creditably revolutionized the face of his land.
In 1944, another British analyst on Iran wrote,
Persia [had] had to make too rapid a jump into the twentieth century. We more fortunate people in the West went through a slow and gradual process of education in the arts of reading, not least in the direction of intellectual recreation. The novel, the essay, the theater slowly evolved in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. The cinema did not burst on us suddenly as it has done on Persia. We had been gently introduced to its compelling charms. From the legitimate stage to the silent film, from the silent film to the "movie," we passed decorously without undue haste. Not so Persia. Within a period of little more than ten years Persia had been brought face to face with the colored film; and not only that but also with the radio, with concert parties and cabarets, with modern furniture, modern buildings, modern fabrics and fashions. Within the same period she has had to cope with the most notable, the most far-reaching social revolution of all—the emancipation of women—without much gradual process of evolution. Small wonder that Persia is a bit out of breath, a bit bewildered and uncertain of her standards.
In 1952, T. Cuyler Young Jr. of Princeton University had this to say about the attitude of Iranians toward the West:
A more numerous group, but varied in their degree of self-consciousness and understanding, are those in favor of a qualified assimilation of the West in accordance with proved and admitted...
France was not very "Republican" in its empire. Indeed, this observation is central to a growing body of scholarship that reconsiders the relationship between republic, colony, and empire. Perhaps, then, it is no surprise that the Republic was less than rigorously doctrinaire in its imperial secularism. Throughout the twentieth century, colonial agents in French West Africa (l'Afrique Occidentale Française, or AOF) attempted to manipulate religious practices—and intervened actively in spiritual hierarchies—as a matter of policy. This essay explores one example of those interventions in Muslim practice under France's Fourth Republic (1946–58). In the 1940s and 1950s, the colonial military and the colonial state—both then in the process of struggling to define themselves within a new and amorphous "French Union"—invested a great deal of energy and resources in sponsoring and attempting to control African Muslims on pilgrimage to Mecca. They also worked hard to publicize these efforts, to market the new version of empire. Why would that be so, and what did the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca incumbent on every capable Muslim, mean for the French Union?
Sponsorship was defensive, constituting a form of surveillance intended to contain the spread in West Africa of political and religious ideas—ranging from Nasser-inflected nationalism to Wahhabi or "reformist" Islam—that colonial "experts" believed to be emanating from Egypt and the Hejaz. As an imperial strategy, this approach was neither novel nor particular to the French empire; the noted Dutch Orientalist Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje had successfully advocated such tactics in the first decades of the twentieth century, as the Ottoman Empire was extending its control over the Hejaz and more completely integrating the town of Medina. Britain made similar attempts almost a century earlier. Yet although sponsorship and surveillance of the pilgrimage was old, French attempts to use the hajj to define the very nature of a secular and putatively nonracialist empire—and the relationships constituting it—were new. We argue that management of the pilgrimage represented a key element in an aggressive campaign to present the French Union in Africa as a solicitous and accommodating empire and to give content to an ill-defined new colonial citizenship. By the 1950s, anticolonialists directly challenged that new version of empire and its representatives in the context of the annual pilgrimage, and African pilgrims sought to reconcile newly expansive and potentially incompatible models of political membership represented by the empire, the umma, and the new third world. Thus, even as it remained an act of faith, the hajj became a platform for competing visions of state and empire at the time of a vast imperial experiment and the creation of a Muslim third world.
Appreciating state involvement in the pilgrimage requires an understanding of just what was distinct about French colonial practice in the Fourth Republic, which exercised sovereignty over a vast empire extending from the Antilles to North, West, and Equatorial Africa; various Paciﬁc possessions; and, until 1954, much of Southeast Asia. Rather than view the postwar period as an inevitable shift toward independence, we understand the political scenario in those years as aleatory, inchoate, and contingent. That major changes were afoot was indisputable, but interpretations of their significance diverged widely. Native legal status, the indigénat, with its distinct offenses and punishments, was abolished; all French colonial subjects would soon become imperial citizens. An increasing number of them participated in a new colonial electorate. An administration that had long lived on a tight budget disproportionate to its ambitions—a circumstance that gave rise to not a little violence—became a better-funded, aggressive developmentalist state. In West Africa dockers and workers fought for and won wages and benefits that were not dependent on race. African military veterans earned the right to pensions equivalent to those paid their European peers. African politicians sat in the Assembly of the French Union, and several of them came to occupy high positions within the state. The Ivorian Félix Houphouët-Boigny, with allies like Aimé Césaire of Martinique, acted in the Assemblée nationale constituante to bring an end to forced labor. Many of these changes represented only window...
Studies on modern Indian theater had hitherto been marked by a geographical, temporal, or genre specificity. But two powerful books that were recently published—Aparna Bhargava Dharwadker's Theatres of Independence: Drama, Theory, and Urban Performance in Indian since 1947 and Vasudha Dalmia's Poetics, Plays, and Performances: The Politics of Modern Indian Theatre—both redress these regional constructs by embracing the field in all its complexity and impressive expanse. Indeed while prior arguments have forwarded the notion that a comprehensive field of "Indian theater" was simply untenable theoretically, these two authors argue persuasively for a renewed modality of scholarship that seeks to place theatrical history alongside the narrative of the nation.
Dalmia and Dharwadker are insistent in their case for modernity in and of the Indian stage, a stance refreshingly distinct from many studies that simply focus on the (alleged) continuities of the classical traditions in the present age. These authors demonstrate the rise of Indian theater to be inextricably linked with the forces of nationalism of the mid-nineteenth century exemplified in the figure of Bharatendu Harishchandra. Such early theorists, while postulating a harkening back to the golden age of Vedic culture and Sanskrit drama, were in reality deeply imbricated in the modern phenomena of literacy, print cultures, and modalities of translation. Dalmia and Dharwadker present modern theater within the imaginary of India as coeval with the language politics of the newly emergent nation. Official discourse and cultural policy collide within these pages with playwrights and performers who continually interrogate, challenge, and transform the boundaries of the nation-state. What constitutes national theater and who has the right to make it are the underlying questions that propel both books. While Dharwadker's canvas is much larger, Dalmia uses the development of Hindi drama to chart much of the same territory. Both authors pay close attention to the processes of canon formation that within a few short decades since independence firmly embedded itself in the field of Indian theater. Here along with the plays that embrace a radically new aesthetic are also urban variants of the folk that have superseded the fascination with antiquity and Sanskrit drama.
Theatres of Independence is the most extensive and thorough analysis of modern Indian theater that exists today. With nine hefty appendixes that document the major play scripts and performances of the past fifty years, the book is an indispensable tool for any scholar of South Asian drama. But more than that, and this is where Dharwadker's biggest contribution lies, Theatres of Independence is a major intervention in the field of postcolonial studies as a whole. Contending that an attention to performance allows for possibilities that a text-centric field of postcolonial studies often ignores, Dharwadker conscientiously looks at the many examples in Indian theater practice that offer substantial challenges to the discourse of empire. Playwrights, directors, and actors through their work not just talk back to the colonizer's canon but also engage with a prehistory of the colony in critical ways. The resultant dialogue among practitioners, audiences, and readers offers very different dynamics of negotiating identity and tradition than conventional textual readings can accord. Dharwadker ultimately argues for an embodied history of the Indian stage rather than a purely enscripted one.
After establishing in the introduction the postcolonial frame that she employs for the whole book, Dharwadker divides her book into two sections—the first deals more with the lives, techniques, and theories of individual playwrights and directors, while the second deals with the recurrent themes of epic narrative, home, and history that can be distilled from the body of the plays themselves. Chapter 2 sets up three pivotal events in modern Indian theater history as the formation of the Indian People's Theatre Association (1943), a seminar on theater by the newly formed Sangeet Natak Akademi in 1956, and finally a retrospective of quintessentially "Indian" plays at the Nehru centenary in 1989 also organized by the Sangeet Natak Akademi. These three events contrast the official course of policy formation with the more populist interventions made in the field. The distance between the seminar and the retrospective is also one between the plans and the results of the architects of...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 690-691
This is the second edition of this fantastic general history of South Asia covering the period from antiquity to the twenty-first century, with the majority of the book (seventeen of twenty chapters) focusing on the period since circa 1500. As with the first edition, published in 1998, Modern South Asia will function very well as a textbook in undergraduate South Asian survey courses and will yield a wealth of information about the subcontinent’s history for committed general readers. Moreover, the insightful comments about South Asian historiography will repay careful readings by senior undergraduates and benefit specialists.
The new edition brings the book up to date in terms of important political developments since 1998, such as the two nuclear blasts of 1998 and the election of the Bharatiya Janata Party, and the wealth of new scholarship that has appeared in the past seven years. Indeed, one of the great strengths of the book is that both authors, Sugata Bose and Ayesha Jalal, are eminent scholars at the forefront of ongoing debates in South Asian historiography. They combine the best of materialist and empirical historiographies of capitalism, nationalism, and colonialism, for example, with new intellectual currents associated with postmodern and postcolonial scholarship. They also convey the excitement of South Asian historiography and show its social and political relevance to the present day. This makes Modern South Asia compelling and should help to attract promising students into graduate programs.
The most intense discussion of South Asian historiography in the 1998 edition appeared toward the end of the book’s introduction, posing some problems since it could intimidate and scare off all but the most intrepid undergraduates and general readers before they actually reached the history. The second edition has successfully addressed this issue by moving these theoretical insights from the introduction into a new “general note on historiographical trends” at the beginning of the bibliography. These valuable notes work well here, and the excellent, updated select bibliography now runs to twenty-seven pages. The authors have also added a four-page chronological outline (211–14) that covers the years 6500 BCE–2003 CE, which should please students. The glossary and index are also first-rate, and the five maps and twenty-odd illustrations complement the text admirably. In addition, many instructors will like that most of the chapters are quite short (ten to twenty pages), and students can be expected to read a chapter per class in some weeks, or chapters can be supplemented with other primary or secondary source readings for in-depth analysis of some themes and topics.
Modern South Asia is a strong book because it provides so much information on the early modern, colonial, and postcolonial periods in India, and it is unique in that it covers all of South Asia in the post-1947 period. But it is equally important that all of the material presented chronologically in the twenty chapters is connected thematically. The dominant theme running through the entire book is about efforts to accommodate difference and resolve center versus region tensions through notions and practices of layered and shared sovereignty. The theme is never overbearing or didactic and works well, even imbuing the book with a sense of hope and optimism.
Since the book tries to do so much in 206 pages of text there are bound to be areas where improvements could be made. For example, some sections are a little dense and might give trouble to some students. One could also wish for better definitions or explanations of terms such as military fiscalism and communitarian. The latter is employed on five or six occasions between pages 6 and 215 but is never clearly defined; it appears positively on some occasions as an alternative to communal and negatively on others in the sense of the postcolonial penchant for “the fragment.” These, however, are minor criticisms of an excellent and highly recommended history of South Asia...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 407-437
This article outlines an ideal type of reformation that may serve as an empirically grounded platform and a set of conceptual tools for analyzing the historical role of Islam and other world religions. In doing so, it reconsiders and makes comparative use of Protestantism, the one historically consummated ideal type, or the "real type," of reformation. The argument is structured around the four constitutive elements of the ideal type: the worldviews expressed in religious traditions; the golden age associated with the original, charismatic, or sacred phase of reform-prone religions; the organization or institutionalization of these religions; and the environmental context and external factors favoring or hindering alternative reform agendas. In and through the construction of this ideal type the article pursues two specific objectives. First, it explains the absence of a general concept of reformation in Weber's sociology of religion, demonstrates the need for one, and supplies it. In this regard, the article addresses the debate on reformation (and Islam) between ideationalist, materialist, and institutionalist followers of Weber and accommodates what it takes to be their lasting contributions in the spirit of Weber's own multicausal and historically anchored research program. Second, it offers an account of Islam that shows both its original rationalizing, universalist, and democratic development of Abrahamic monotheism and the subsequent, long-term, debilitating reversals arising from the orthodoxy's attempts to mark off and safeguard the golden age's legacy against "usurpation" by dynastic imperial states. The argument here follows the convergent claims of "orientalist" scholars and fundamentalist Muslims about the fusion of state and religion as the key distinguishing feature of Islam. However, it diverges from these stands in several important respects. First, it emphasizes that the fused state and religion were limited to the golden age (621–661 CE) of the prophet and his first four "rightly guided caliphs." Second, it took a divine or prophetic and a human or democratic form, and this rather neglected distinction should be helpful in moving the debate over the fusion of state and religion in Islam to one about the form that this fusion may take in the contemporary context. Third, with the rise of Umayyid's dynastic caliphate, the state-religion unity was reduced to an elusive ideal and redundant discourse that were effectively revived only through Muslim encounters with western universalism and imperialism. Fourth, although these still unfolding encounters have engendered the fundamentalist as well as the modernist reform agendas in the last two centuries, both tendencies have solid grounds in Islamic history and thought. The article concludes by briefly applying the ideal type in question to the changing trajectories and prospects of these alternatives for achieving an Islamic reformation and addressing the question of "what went wrong" with Islamicate.
Protestantism has been the movement with reference to which various religious figures in the Muslim world have been identified (and self-identified) as "Luthers" by both Western and Muslim writers in the past two centuries. The apparent failure of these to sustain their once apparently hegemonic movement has underpinned the opposed claims that either Islam is unreformable and as such a major (and perhaps tragic) obstacle to Islamicate's modernization or that it is in fact a dependent variable shaped by socioeconomic and political factors wherein the causes of the Muslim world's decline may be found. Either way, the conclusion is that a sustained developmental trajectory will arise, if at all, in Muslim societies despite or regardless of the Islamic orthodoxy. At best, socioeconomic and political modernization will continue to marginalize Islamic practices in various spheres without the need for an "internal" transformation of the orthodoxy. At worst, orthodox resilience will condemn Muslim societies to instability, backwardness, and rage resulting from inescapable subservience to a dominant and alien modernity.
Even though the "ideational" accounts of Weber's legacy predominate, both positions are to be found in his sociology of religion and other writings. The primary rationale for this study, however, does not lie in the evident need to address the...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 297-317
Since the late 1970s and early 1980s, women's studies and, more recently, alongside and interlaced with it, gender studies have developed into a full-fledged and broad-based subdiscipline of Middle Eastern studies. Suffering generally, however, from a lack of historical record, the field has tended to focus on the contemporary period, and, accordingly, many of the main contributions have been made by anthropologists, insight sociologists, and political scientists. Historical studies of women and gender in the Middle East have been slower to emerge. In general, relatively little work was done before the mid-1990s; research on Iran and Egypt, however, has been somewhat exceptional in this regard, and the echoes of the rise of women's public voice and action at the end of the nineteenth and in the early twentieth centuries, when a public discourse on women began to take shape in the Middle East, have received relatively considerable treatment.
In the case of Iran, many of the historical studies on women point to the turn of the twentieth century and, more specifically, the 1905–11 constitutional revolution period as the beginning of Persian women's "awakening." This awakening is commonly viewed as the roots of what is often defined as "the women's movement" and/or characterized as "feminism." In these narratives, women's (and, most notably, Nasir al-Din Shah's harem's) participation in the 1891 tobacco revolt, washerwomen's donations of their meager savings and rich women's contributions of their jewelry to sponsor a national bank, and the "storming" of the Majlis building by a group of armed women in 1911 are key scenes recalled almost without exception to portray women's "unprecedented" societal-convention-bending actions, political awareness, and personal resolve at the turn of the century. Precedents as such for women's public action, if mentioned, are severely limited and generally restricted to one, mid-nineteenth-century public deveiling (by the Babi Fatima Bigum Baraghani, better known as Qurratu'l-‘Ayn), and the power and influence of one royal woman (Anis al-Dawla, the third wife of Nasir al-Din Shah [r. 1848–96]). The condition of women for most of the nineteenth century is not infrequently portrayed in the historiography rather one-dimensionally, and often emotionally, in harsh and bleak terms, referring, for example, to women as "prisoners" and implying—rightly or wrongly but certainly without sound, groundable historical basis—a general and conscious resentment by women of their gender-based inferiority. Needless to say, sources that can shed light on the lives and thought of Qajar women in the nineteenth century are too few to permit the (re)construction of even a semicomprehensive historical picture. Nonetheless, the historiography of the women's movement in Iran has tended to reflect a narrow, limited, and, one can argue, Orientalist view of pre-revolutionary Qajar women, and what is historically recoverable remains uncomprehensively explored. A critical assessment of the historiography shows that a dichotomous historiographical narrative of pre- and post-constitutional revolutionary eras is common in Iranian women's studies. According to this narrative, there was almost no "women's history" before the constitutional revolution.
Badr ol-Moluk Bamdad's classic works, for example, published in Persian in two volumes, in 1968 and 1969, and translated into English two years before the Islamic revolution, refer to Persian history before the 1890 tobacco concession and subsequent domestic boycott ("revolt") of tobacco as "the centuries of darkness" when women were "poor creatures," "powerless dolls," secluded from society and concealed "under thick coverings," "dependent like parasites," "prisoners, confined in the home or under the veil and the cloak," who could "look forward to nothing except enslavement." "The first signs of women's awakening" appeared, in her estimation, with women's "firm stand" against tobacco smoking in 1891, and then during the years of the constitutional revolution, when "Iranian women began to open their eyes and look beyond the narrow confines of their environment, beyond the walls of the harem and the...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 465-479
Satire is one of the youngest forms in modern Afghanistani literature and art. Its different types and forms have been emerging in the backdrop of sociopolitical development since the early twentieth century, although as a literary and artistic form it only started systematically from the mid-1960s. So, bearing in mind its short history and the sociopolitical and cultural difficulties during the past forty years including the failure of the constitutional democracy (1965–73), two coups (1973 and 1978), the invasion of Afghanistan by Russian troops (1979–88), the bloody civil wars (particularly between 1992 and 1996), and the empowerment of the Taliban (1996–2001), satire generally has developed significantly. This progress indicates not only the general development of modern Afghanistani literature but also the overall social progress and widening of the society. On the one hand, since the 1970s, Afghanistan has been ruled by more oppressive regimes than it had been in the 1960s. On the other hand, during this period the general political and cultural awareness among people, particularly the educated classes, increased dramatically. This awareness came not only from the gradual politicization of the society as a result of major political developments but also through a relatively broader familiarity with Western culture and literature and even politics.
In classical Afghanistani (Persian) literature there was a range of satirical references in literary works, but purely satirical works were seldom written, whereas in modern Afghanistani literature satire makes up an important part of literature. In the course of the twentieth century satire appeared under the influence of different sources. It is the outcome of familiarity with Western culture (through the translation of satirical works), as well as the continuation of ancient traditions. In other words, literary satire is among the rare literary forms in modern Afghanistani literature in which imported literary forms have met the indigenous ones.
In this article, I attempt to shed light on the emergence of different types and forms of satire and their representatives and the artists who contributed to them, at the same time exploring the connections between political events and the development of satire through its various stages. I also look at the publication of satirical journals and magazines and their contribution to the development of this genre.
In classical Persian literature, satire had very wide representation and some of its elements, in one way or another, can be recognized in the works of most poets. Classical Persian poets and writers had two different approaches: some dealt with it directly, others indirectly. The poets who have subtle satirical references in their works include Ferdawsi (d. 1021), Sanai (d. 1151), Rumi (d. 1273), Sa'di (d. 1292), Hafiz (d. 1390), and Jami (d. 1492), and poets who created some purely satirical works include Anwari (d. 1188), Sozani (d. 1174), ‘Obaid of Zakan (d. 1371), and Safioddin Kashefi (d. 1534). It was ‘Obaid who made the most significant contribution to the development of satire in classical Persian literature. By creating superb works in both prose and verse, he "made the transition from self-serving lampoon and ribaldry to genuine literary and social satire."
There were many types of literature that contributed to satire in classical literature, but the main ones were hajw (invective, lampoon) and hazl (ribaldry). These two types and concepts were more closely associated with satire than any other. Hajw is the opposite of panegyric. The aim of hajw was to damage an opponent's reputation through poetic invective. It was blended with wit and rhetoric and had to be a successful poem in its own right. By contrast hazl, the opposite of seriousness and politeness, aimed to lampoon someone or accuse someone of improper speech or action. The master of hazl in classical Persian literature was Sozani. Traditionally hazl has been considered as having little artistic importance. Its features included rudeness and mainly consisted of sexual subjects as well as using taboo words, thus causing hazl to be often categorized as lies, as Rumi says, "Close your corporeal ear to hazl and lies / That you may see the illumined city of soul." These...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 510-511
This timely book comprises fifteen articles, which are subdivided into four broad sections titled "Vulnerability," "Coping," "Courage," and "Possibility."
The four articles under "Vulnerability" give an excellent foundation of the AIDS-related issues that confront children in different parts of Africa. Noteworthy among these articles are chapters 2 and 3. Chapter 2, titled "Civil Conflict, Sexual Violence, and HIV/AIDS: Challenges for Children in Sierra Leone," uses personal accounts to illustrate how young girls in Sierra Leone are abducted and raped by members of the military and some NGOs. The authors make several recommendations to alleviate this problem, including changing the legal age of sexual consent from sixteen to eighteen. One recommendation that would have strengthened this otherwise excellent chapter would have been practical ways on how to prosecute the members of the military and NGOs involved in these rapes. Chapter 3, "The Vulnerability of Children and Orphaned Youth in Zimbabwe," gives some startling HIV/AIDS statistics in Zimbabwe, such as the fact that 66 percent of those between fifteen and thirty-nine years of age are HIV positive. The chapter highlights the difference between the loss of a mother compared to a father, implying the death of the former is usually more devastating to children. This same theme is discussed in chapter 4, "Reducing the Vulnerability of Africa's Children to HIV/AIDS," which explores several factors that compromise African children's health.
The three articles under the section "Coping" discuss the devastation faced by African AIDS orphans and give some practical strategies on how to cope. Noteworthy among these are chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 6, "Storytelling as a Psychological Intervention for AIDS Orphans in Africa," explores the role of oral storytelling in Africa and recommends that counselors use storytelling to help AIDS orphans reauthor their favorite stories by adding information about their departed parents. This chapter clearly demonstrates the need for utilizing cultural-relevant tools in the fight against HIV/AIDS. Similarly, chapter 7, "HIV/AIDS, Children, and Sub-Saharan Africa: Dealing with Bereavement," gives practical strategies and life skills for helping AIDS orphans. These include encouraging AIDS-infected parents to talk to their children about AIDS before their death, helping AIDS orphans share their stories in schools, using structured play for stress management, and permitting children to be involved in decision-making processes.
The three articles under the section "Courage" discuss the efforts specific organizations have used to help AIDS orphans. Specifically, chapter 8, "For the Sake of the Children: Community-based Youth Projects in Kenya," explores the efforts of three Kenyan community-based youth projects. Noteworthy among these is the Mathare Youth Sports Association, which uses soccer as a gateway to spread information about preventing HIV/AIDS, and the Nyumbani Orphanage, which supports abandoned Kenyan children with HIV/AIDS. The author highlights how the Nyumbani Orphanage fought until it convinced the Kenyan government, the pharmaceutical companies, and the world that, despite patent laws, medication to treat AIDS patients should be provided to poor families to save lives. This excellent chapter clearly illustrates how simple efforts that cost relatively little can educate large numbers of children about AIDS and how local efforts can overcome major national and international laws that hinder the treatment of AIDS Orphans. Chapter 9, "Participatory HIV Intervention with Ghanaian Youth," discusses the implementation of an HIV/AIDS educational intervention program in Ghana targeted at twelve- to twenty-one-year-olds. It shows how peer-based support helped students discuss sexual relationships, fears regarding HIV/AIDS, and the support systems available to them. This chapter would have been strengthened by an inclusion of the questions used during the field study. Chapter 10, "How Communities Help Families Cope with HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe," discusses various resources that are available to orphans, and those who take care of them, to help cope with the challenges associated with HIV/AIDS. It highlights the work of an organization called FOCUS, which...
Zine Magubane's Bringing the Empire Home is an eloquent and innovative addition to the rich corpus of social history of the British Empire in the nineteenth century. In a complex interplay of relationships, the author seeks to demonstrate how ideas of race, class, gender, sexuality, and nation were deeply implicated, foregrounding her evidentiary base in the economic relations of England and the Cape Colony of South Africa. Underlying her study is the fundamental question: what did concepts such as whiteness and blackness mean to colonized Africans? Her approach is to document, through an examination of various "texts," how categories of thought relating to race, gender, and class difference not only came to be constructed but also became incorporated into English political and social life; in short, how blackness functioned as a metaphor for marginality.
Following the introductory chapter, which is inspired considerably by Marxist and postmodernist theoreticians—particularly in the view that processes of signification and material production are deeply implicated—Magubane discusses (in chapter 2) how the colonized female body in the Cape became a locus for the intersection of capitalism and aesthetics, demonstrating that this was part of the process by which political economy was employed to separate the producer from his or her means of production. This is the process that the author terms the "transformation of commodification into sexuality." In chapter 3, Magubane turns to representations of colonized male bodies, and by linking the analysis to the English metropole, she illustrates how images of the colonized male provided metaphoric representations about the destitute in England. The middle chapters move the discussion from individual bodies to an examination of the concept of the "social body," describing the ways in which British working-class elites articulated their own social ills and political exclusion in racial discourses. A poignant illustration is the effect the Anglo-Boer War (1899–1902) had in shaping public and parliamentary discussion about the franchise and citizenship. In the final segment, Magubane "unmasks" the meaning of whiteness through reconstructions and rearticulations of blackness in South Africa and the African diaspora, illustrating how images of the African-American minstrel stage and gospel troupes, for example, reshaped conceptions of blackness.
Though the language is dense in places and the study utilizes an overarching construct, Magubane succeeds in producing an illuminating model for understanding the social construction of blackness and whiteness simultaneously in England and South Africa, underscoring the complex interconnection between the center and periphery. The human body, it seems, can be a vehicle for conceptualizing marginality in both locales. Equally important is the thread linking discourses of blackness and economics.
But Bringing the Empire Home does more than reveal the racialization of the English working class; it is also significant in unearthing subaltern voices in the colony, particularly in the ways African agency was deployed in renarrations of history so as to decenter, demythologize, and desacralize whiteness and thereby critique white supremacy. Although the author's heavy reliance on missionary accounts, newspaper articles, and travel writing in this form of analysis in nineteenth-century South African history breaks fresh ground, she could have shown more explicit recognition of the limitations of these same sources. However, even though theorizing that language is a site of power and domination, or that the boundary between the colony and metropole was never that impermeable, or that ideologies of race and blackness traveled back and forth along the metropole-periphery circuit are all not new—witness Paul Gilroy, Mary Poovey, and Edward Said, for example—Magubane takes South African social history to new heights. Bringing the Empire Home is not just thought provoking; it is in many ways creative and original.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 506-507
Dominic Thomas's Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa will appeal to scholars and graduate students across disciplines, in culture, literature, and politics. It transposes to the Francophone African context the study of the nation and the role of the engaged intellectual (novelists primarily), both party bound and independent, in its emergence. Thomas's work joins a growing interdisciplinary literature on the African nation, national literatures, and African nationalists in the colonial and postcolonial periods, including Christopher L. Miller's Nationalists and Nomads (1998), Toyin Falola's Nationalism and African Intellectuals (2001), and Réda Bensmaïa's Experimental Nations (2003). Thomas has chosen compelling subjects very worthy of investigation in the Republic of the Congo: fiction, truth telling, and reconciliation. As African nations such as the Congo continue to try to foster community in the twenty-first century, it is quite interesting indeed to explore what role storytellers have played and can continue to play in the unfolding narrative. As some readers of the book will already know, there is a longstanding tradition of the writer turned politician, and politician turned writer, in the French and Francophone contexts.
Nation-Building, Propaganda, and Literature in Francophone Africa explores the relationship between literature, politics, and the state in the Congo specifically and more tangentially in the rest of Sub-Saharan Francophone Africa. Thomas contends that politics and literature are particularly intertwined in the Congo, "where the post-revolutionary Marxist-Leninist elite exercising governmental authority between 1969 and 1991 sponsored an official literature of the state" (5). Noted Congolese writers such as Henri Lopes have participated in government while actively pursuing their craft. The Union Nationale des Ecrivains, Artistes, et Artisans Congolais (UNEAC), created in 1979 by Denis Sassou Nguesso's regime, brought the production of literature directly in line with political initiatives (39). The authors whom Thomas studies were writing at this time, and indeed are still writing today, in the case of Lopes. Thomas reminds readers that the objective of state-influenced art in the Congo was the production of national sentiment (8). One wonders how successful these initiatives were and if any lingering influence survived the shift to pluralism in 1991. It would be very difficult to measure Congolese national sentiment with any level of accuracy and would certainly require another sort of analysis than the one taken here.
How does one identify the (African) nation in our postmodern world of eradicated borders and trasnational trajectories? Does the European-born notion of the nation have salience in Africa? Thomas does not appear particularly interested in this line of inquiry, yet identifying the nation and national literatures in the African "postcolony" is instructive. Individual nations came more clearly into focus during the struggle for independence. National (and arbitrary) borders were curiously preserved in postcolonial Africa. It was at the same moment countries such as the Congo became independent that the production of "national," as opposed to colonial, literatures began. Are these literatures national in the sense that their authors somehow served to represent the diverse forces of the nation? By not addressing such questions, Thomas misses an opportunity to broaden his analysis. He rightly mentions the limitations of print culture in the African context, which however does little to strengthen his argument since virtually all of his own sources are literary. Except for a brief passage, there is little on readership in Francophone Africa (173). If books by Congolese authors are read by so very few Congolese people, in what way do they constitute a national literature? One could argue that by focusing attention on national affairs by writing for others in the dominant (French) language, writers were and are effectively affirming the Congolese nation.
Congolese novelists, Thomas demonstrates quite convincingly, were often in the business not of nation building, but rather of fiefdom destroying. "The fictional text thus becomes an effective medium for articulating criticism of the sociological reality, and for exposing those practices that have contributed to the failure of postcolonial...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 502-503
Following the anthology Same and Other: Negotiating African Identity in Cultural Production (2001), edited by Maria Eriksson Baaz and Mai Palmberg, this volume is similarly centered on exploring the ways Africans communicate ideas about themselves to each other and the outside world, yet focuses on the ways in which Africans use music to do so. As a medium of identity making, "musics"—as Kirkegaard invites readers to consider in the introduction—offer a wellspring of material on which to study the social, political, and economic issues that concern African musicians and audiences (49).
The volume offers thoughtful reflection on musics produced within the African continent: Cape Verde, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Ghana, Nigeria, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, as well as musical production between Africa, the African diaspora, and the West. Most interesting, the concise chapters (ten to fifteen pages each) bring readers up to date on the African musics many are familiar with (Senegalese mbalax, Nigerian juju, Tanzanian taarab, and Ghanaian highlife) by introducing the new ways that music is being played by contemporary African artists. For example, Christopher Waterman describes the spectacular repertoire of contemporary Nigerian musician Bisade Ologunde (aka Lagbaja), whose music combines bata and dundun drum rhythms, palmwine guitar music, and highlife with jazz, soul, hip-hop, and klezmer. In another chapter, Johannes Brusila deconstructs the impetus behind the concept "modern traditional," which Virginia Mukwesha of Zimbabwe uses to describe the mbira (thumb piano) music she has recorded through what Brusila refers to as "mediaization," a process used to make it more marketable to Western listeners (39). Following in this vein is Annemette Kirkegaard's analysis of a recent collaboration between two Tanzanian taarab groups, Egyptian Musical Club and Sisi Kwa Sisi, and the Norwegian techno group Acid Queen. Kirkegaard's final critique of the crossover product, Tranzania, exposes the fact that the seemingly well-intentioned Norwegians, who explain the project in the CD's cover notes as one geared toward helping the Tanzanian musicians, do not credit their African colleagues on five of the tracks that feature Swahili lyrics and taarab melodies.
In a chapter that similarly looks at the potential pitfalls of the transition to techno-music, John Collins discusses two new musical styles that have become popular among Ghana's contemporary youth, burgher-highlife and hip-life. These forms of electronically generated techno-pop have created the latest music-inspired generational divide—this one between older-aged highlife listeners and young people devoted to techno-music. Although this analysis clearly identifies the criticism this new studio-based, computerized music has received among Ghanaians (it puts local musicians out of work, is a cheap imitation of Western techno-music, and emphasizes romantic love rather than important sociopolitical issues), Collins suggests that the phenomenon may fade, creating a backlash such as the "roots" revolution that trailed the disco era in the United States and paving the way for the world music craze.
The flow of musical inspiration between the African diaspora and the Continent is explored in several articles in the volume. Ndiouga Adrien Benga discusses the evolution of the hip-hop movement among Senegalese youth from 1988 to the present in Dakar, where thousands of rap groups (2,500 in 2002) are performing a distinct form of rap Benga refers to as the "Senegalese Touch" (81). Although it took a decade for Senegalese rap to "free itself from American and French patterns," Benga explains that Senegalese rappers draw from an oral literature that has been cultivated by preachers, storytellers, and praise-singers and make use of contemporary idioms in several languages (Wolof, Arabic, French, English, and others) to get their antiestablishment messages across (81). Indeed, Benga identifies rap as the medium through which a diverse population of young, marginalized, Senegalese urbanites identify the problems they face (unemployment, school failure, AIDS, violence, and political disenfranchisement) and demand fundamental change. These socioeconomic consequences of colonialism and racial discrimination so truthfully characterize the experience shared by Africans...
Comparative studies of South Africa and Israel/Palestine go back at least thirty years. The early studies focused on the nature of settler regimes, while more recent ones have sought to compare the struggles against them and the resolution of the seemingly intractable conflicts that were occurring in each society. Over the same period, in a related body of work, other scholars scrutinized the relations between the apartheid regime in South Africa and the government of Israel. All of these observations took place within a distinctly political context. Apartheid South Africa was overwhelmingly regarded as a pariah state by the international community. By contrast, Israel, which in the eyes of its critics shared a legacy of settler colonialism, was staunchly embraced by the United States and abetted the regime in South Africa. Despite the opprobrium of the majority of the United Nations General Assembly, Israel was not subject to international pressure for change comparable to that exerted on South Africa. In this context some of the comparisons (and virtually all of the work on relations) sought to make arguments that would recast Israel in a more critical light as a settler state sharing characteristics and resources with South Africa. As a result, the literature tended to stress similarities over differences. This was unfortunate because the power of comparative analysis rests at least as often with the contrasts it reveals as it does with the commonalities it identifies.
Increasingly the South African experience is being plumbed for insights into its transition to democracy, sometimes in search of clues to advance the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Drawing useful lessons demands a critical comparison that begins with the settler roots of each state.
Among contending conceptions of nationalism, the well-thought-out definition put forward by Moshe Behar in his article in the November 2005 issue of the International Journal of Middle East Studies is particularly helpful in the analysis of settler states. Reviewing numerous studies of nationalism and, in turn, reviews of them, Behar explores ways to define and understand nationalism so as to link broad comparative studies with the rich literature of regional studies. After rejecting other approaches, he distills a sound definition: "The collective undertaking (by peaceful, forceful, or violent means) of a group of individuals aiming to unify around a common social, economic or cultural denominator for the purpose of securing, at a minimum, political self-rule." He believes that one of this definition's strengths is that while it is not unduly vague, it is still broad enough to include both nationalism that occurs at the nation-state level and the various subnationalisms that exist within any given state. Regarding the cases in point, it allows one to consider Israeli nationalism as a whole, while not diminishing the significance of separate nationalisms, for example, religious versus secular, Ashkenazi versus Eastern Jews, Israeli Arabs versus Israeli Jews. Similarly, with the Palestinian movement this distinction allows one to consider the religious/secular or Muslim/Christian difference in areas where these become relevant. For the South African case the subnationalisms could include those among Africans, for example, Zulu, Xhosa, Sotho, Tswana, and Khoisan, as well as distinctions among Africans, coloreds, Asians, and whites (both Afrikaans and English speaking). The advantages of this become apparent in the course of this essay.
One of the more intractable forces at work in South Africa and Israel/Palestine has been the ethnonationalism of the state created by the settlers and the response to that by the popular forces it confronts. In an early attempt to explain the nature of settler societies Louis Hartz argued that settler culture and ideology were shaped by what might be called fragmentation theory. The settler community is informed by the beliefs and customs of its home (European) culture at the time it cleaved off. Thus South African apartheid was seen as deeply rooted in pre-Enlightenment Calvinism. While such an approach has some explanatory power, it dramatically underplays both the continuing interaction between the settlers and their European home, as well as the vitally important socioeconomic realities of their new land. In order to assess whether the comparison of South Africa with Israel...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 507-509
Immigrant literature has become a subject of inquiry in Francophone studies, especially after the rise of postcolonial studies. Mostly limited to the North African community until recently, postcolonial analyses focus on African, Caribbean, and Vietnamese immigrant writing. Afrique sur Seine by Odile Cazenave examines writings published since the mid-1980s by a new generation of African novelists living in Paris. This work grew out of Cazenave's previous book titled Rebellious Women: The New Generation of Female African Novelists (2000), in which she observed differences between female writing in Africa and in France. In her introductory chapter, she outlines the characteristics of these "African writings of the self" (8) in relation to African, French, Francophone, and diasporic literature and examines in the following four chapters their narrative and esthetic innovations, inviting critics to reevaluate their tools and categories.
Starting from Bennetta Jules-Rosette's study, Black Paris: The African Writers' Landscape (1998), and her concept of "parisianism" defined as "a cosmopolitan style of Franco-African writing" (10), Cazenave in her introduction convincingly argues that postcolonial African authors do not constitute a literary movement but rather a generation of writers. Although their works address similar issues, such as multiculturalism, universalism, and exile, and decenter African and French writing, their styles are very different. One of the strongest aspects of Cazenave's study is her attention to style: "Au décentrement de l'identité correspond un décentrement de l'écriture" (To the decentering of identity corresponds a decentering of style) (24). Linked to immigrant and diasporic literatures in Paris or London, these writings differ from previous novels centered on African students in Paris, such as those by Bernard Dadié and Cheikh Hamidou Kane, as their focus is on France rather than Africa.
In the first chapter, which represents the gist of the work, Cazenave argues that, by their emphasis on the individual, African postcolonial writers in France generally refuse any collective political position, be it on Africa or on France. The chapter is divided into three sections centered on the main characteristics distinguishing these novels from those written on the African continent. In the first section, Cazenave offers close readings of novels that display a certain distance toward Africa and whose authors refuse to be confined to littérature engagée or to socio-realism. Such novels include Simon Njami's detective novels Cercueil et Cie (Coffin and Company) (1985) and African Gigolo (1989), which are influenced by Afro-American culture and novels such as Blaise N'Djehoya's Le nègre Potempkine (The Negro Potempkine) (1988) and Bessora's novels 53 cm (1999) and Les taches d'encre (The Ink Stains) (2000), which decenter French and African discourses through linguistic invention and humor. Finally, Marie N'Diaye, whose novels tackle universal themes, illustrates this apparent refusal to deal with the African heritage. Although the categorizations that Cazenave establishes seem artificial at times, she aptly concludes that the authors' "neutrality" (67) regarding the African question problematizes the link between the Afro-parisian and the African novel.
The novels in the second section, "montre[nt] un certain interêt pour l'avenir de l'Afrique" (show a certain interest for the future of Africa) (29). However, their criticism is directed to Africans living in France and their relationship to Africans in the continent. Such novels include Daniel Biyaoula's L'impasse (The Dead End) (1997), which criticizes "la sape" (African fashion) as a symbol of authentic African identity. While these novels put into question an African "community" in Paris, novels in the third section exclusively focus on the African immigrant community. Calixthe Beyala, one of the most famous African woman writers in France, is central to Cazenave's study. She argues that Beyala's later novels propose a new sexual ethics for immigrant men and women and decenter the French language through the subversion of idiomatic expressions and stereotypes, as Mireille Rosello showed in Declining the Stereotypes: Ethnicity and Representation in French...
Relations between Africa and France ﬁgure prominently in the three works under review published by Lexington Books. Part of the After the Empire series, edited by Valérie Orlando of Illinois Wesleyan University, these publications engage in convincing ways with the series subtitle: The Francophone World and Postcolonial France. As their titles reveal, the works focus on different aspects of the aftereffects of French colonization, but they complement one another well in their analyses of past and present interactions between the métropole and the (post)colonie, in visual, literary, and cultural terms.
In Afrique sur Seine, Odile Cazenave draws inspiration from Bennetta Jules-Rosette's Black Paris: The African Writers' Landscape and its presentation of "Parisianism" as "a cosmopolitan style of Franco-African writing." While Black Paris includes new voices in its examination of the African presence in Paris from the 1940s to the early 1990s, it "provides only a brief glimpse of this new generation" that Cazenave focuses on in her study. In her view, "the works by new voices in the 1990s, particularly after 1993, further broaden the dialectic" that is limited to Simon Njami, Yodi Karone, and Calixthe Beyala in Jules-Rosette's collection of interviews and essays. While Cameroonian-born Beyala is arguably central to Cazenave's book, her voice is placed alongside those of "young, talented, up and coming" writers such as Jean-Roger Essomba, also from Cameroon; Tierno Monénembo from Guinea; and Daniel Biyaoula and Alain Mabanckou from the Congo, among others. Cazenave has wisely recognized the brilliance of these writers and has sought to bring attention to them in a very important, timely study.
Afrique sur Seine concentrates on works by authors from various sub-Saharan African countries who have taken up residence in France. Cazenave dates the "emergence of this new generation of African writers living in France" to the 1980s, and claims that the nature of this literature is distinctive from that of previous generations: "Theirs is a gaze no longer necessarily turned towards Africa, but rather towards themselves and their own experience, their writing taking a more personal turn" (1). In tune with an essay by Djiboutian novelist and theorist Abdourahman Waberi, Cazenave asserts that these writers' works are not focused on the mother continent, nor are they infused with a possible return to their homeland; rather, these publications are concerned with arrival in France and a future in this new location. Their orientation is therefore made up of new geographical and temporal, as well as thematic, emphases. Whereas "for decades, Francophone novels written by African expatriates living in France dealt with Africa, Africans, and questions of identity" (8), recent Francophone novels are in line with the specificity of recent history, as Cazenave asserts: "But the 1990s present a new reality: we are no longer dealing with a limited stay for studies in France, but rather with a departure motivated by economic reasons and a stay of undetermined length for someone in search of a new life, whether alone or in a family" (9). Later in her analysis, the author hints that a number of immigrants are indeed alone when she indicates that solitude is a characteristic common to a number of recent novels: "Le petit prince de Belleville and even more so, L'impasse, gravely illustrate this topic of the loneliness of the individual who has chosen to settle in a different place and culture" (107).
Whether alone or in a family, African writers of the new generation are marked by a certain degree of individualism, Cazenave demonstrates in chapter 1. Afrique sur Seine identifies three main categories into which these works can be placed: literatures of detachment, displacement, and immigration. Three novels are featured in the author's discussion of literature of detachment, including Njami's first publication, Cerceuil et Cie, and his African Gigolo, "without a doubt the best example of a rejection of political or collective engagement through its implicit commitment to individualism" (25). If these novels demonstrate a rejection of the African community, Philippe Camara's Discopolis makes no mention of Africa whatsoever: "It [Africa] completely disappears in this novel, as does any sort of Black consciousness" (31). Biyaoula's 1996 work of...
She is Black Eve, Aqualtune, Winnie Mandela, and so many between and beyond. She was created from the soil of Africa. She is the mother of nations, warrior for justice, and healer of the mind, body, and spirit. She has raised kings, ruled nations, fought to protect her people, and died in the process only to be reborn through the musician's praise song and the storyteller's tale. Her existence has been proven over and over through the eyes and hands of artists who have witnessed her beauty and shared their imagery with others. She has shown the way, passed down the truth, and seen the light. Even when forced to leave her homeland, the spirit of Africa traveled with her, never to leave her side. And once away she has never forgotten her home, for she and Africa are one.
Within the three volumes of In Praise of Black Women, Simone Schwarz-Bart, with André Schwarz-Bart, has gathered isolated stories, images, poems, and history to collectively celebrate the existence and contributions of black women throughout Africa and the diaspora. Howard Dodson, director of the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture at the New York Public Library, stated in the foreword: "Anyone who has ever lived among women of African descent knows that it is inconceivable to even imagine invisible or voiceless black women. Wherever one looks in the black world, one finds in black women a living, working, struggling, nurturing presence—the primary source of life itself" (vii). This impressive collection details the significant role that black women have played in cultural, social, and economic development throughout the centuries.
Schwarz-Bart, also author of The Bridge of Beyond and Between Two Worlds, is known for creating characters who have the ability to celebrate and to fight for their dual heritage, making sure both are recognized in their home outside of Africa. She writes about struggle while interweaving threads of the oral tradition that reflect the protagonist's African heritage. In Praise of Black Women is also a book that represents struggle. Schwarz-Bart spent many years of research to create these volumes, dedicated to the various roles that black women have played in past and present-day Africa, to assist in the removal of the Westerner's created archetype of the African woman. Mercy Amba Oduyoye examines this exact struggle in her book Daughters of Anowa: African Woman and Patriarchy: "Westerners often see the African woman as a beast of burden walking behind her husband, carrying his children, one inside, one on her back, and many more following in a long procession of children whom she brings forth from puberty to menopause. She is clearly an inferior creature to the Western woman, a person at the bottom of the human pecking order."
Schwarz-Bart demonstrates how prolific the black woman is through a variety of words that deeply penetrate the stories of each woman and her contribution to humankind. The physical layout of the book varies from text that borders photographs, paintings, sculptures, and frescoes to wordless pages that express the artistic interpretations from around the world and throughout the ages. The more than four hundred images within each book alone give great homage to the black woman. Each chapter is a biography that combines folktales along with the history and facts that detail each woman's homeland.
In Praise of Black Women, volume 1, Ancient African Queens, the largest volume, sets the stage for what follows. The first woman introduced is Black Eve, also known as Lucy. She is estimated to have walked on the earth 1.75 million years ago; paleontologists Louis Leakey and Mary Leakey discovered her bones in 1959 in East Africa (8). It is her story that introduces human existence and begins the journey of triumphs, tears, and revelations across Africa. Chapter 2, titled "Black Women, Ten Thousand Years Ago," is not about one woman but about the evidence of a people that once lived on the rich green soil of the Sahara. Now evolved into the largest desert in the world, this area left behind images of the daily life of the people who once lived there. Found within the...
The focus of everyday life in Sugao revolves around farming. Village activity changes with the agricultural season and farm tasks are the rotating pivot around which village society is organized. The agricultural cycle has traditionally been geared, in the Sugao farmer's mind, to the moon and the astrological sign (of which there are twenty-seven in the Hindu calendar) in dominance at the time. In practice, cultivation tasks have become associated with phases of the Hindu lunar calendar which give the farmer guidance when to do what in his fields.This paper describes some of the changes that have occurred in agricultural production in Sugao since 1942. The intent is to illustrate, with this case study of a village microcosm, some of the forces that have been set in motion by a combination of development strategies introduced during the post-Independence decades of development planning in India. Some of these have had as a goal the fostering of urban, industrial development, others of improving the health and education of people, still others, and most importantly for Sugao, of subsidizing and modernizing agriculture and inducing a shift to more cash-crop production. These strategies have had obvious and subtle effects on the Sugao economy and affected segments of the Sugao society in different ways.This paper documents, quantitatively as well as qualitatively, some of the changes that have occurred in the practice of agriculture in Sugao and their impacts on village peoples' work and the village economy. The paper concludes with some conjectures about the future of development in villages like Sugao if this observed direction of change is maintained.
Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, inaugurated as Iran's president in August 2005, almost immediately created a storm of controversy. He stunned the diplomatic world on 17 September 2005 with his speech at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly. The diplomatic world was anxiously waiting for the new president to announce his proposals to resolve Iran's problems with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Instead, Ahmadinejad made harsh verbal attacks on the United States and Israel. On 26 October Ahmadinejad delivered a fiery speech at a state-sponsored conference held at the Ministry of the Interior titled "The World without Zionism" in which he called for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and threatened that any government in the Islamic world that recognized Israel "will be eternally disgraced and will burn in the fury of the Islamic nations." On 8 December, while attending an emergency meeting of the heads of the Organization of the Islamic Conference held in Mecca, where his Saudi hosts were attempting to project a moderate image of Islam, Ahmadinejad cast doubt on whether the Holocaust had occurred and demanded that Europeans move Israel to Germany or Austria. Back home in Iran, Ahmadinejad called the Holocaust a "myth" and demanded that Jews in Israel be moved to Europe, America, Canada, or Alaska. Finally, on 8 May 2006, Ahmadinejad wrote a 3,901-word letter to President George W. Bush reiterating some of these themes.
Ahmadinejad's remarks present three analytically significant questions:
Many observers had initially assumed that Ahmadinejad's incendiary rhetoric was purely for domestic consumption and was not intended for foreign audiences. However, in his private talks with foreign ministers of Britain, France, and Germany, Ahmadinejad spoke the same words. In a private meeting held at the UN headquarters, Ahmadinejad contemptuously told Jack Straw, Philippe Douste-Blazy, and Joschka Fischer: "Do not dare to threaten us with sanctions or you will regret it. . . . You just do what your American masters tell you to do." The meeting was intended to assist Ahmadinejad in understanding the gravity of the situation facing Iran's nuclear file and ways he could resolve the situation diplomatically. Instead, it left the European Union–3 (EU-3) foreign ministers stunned.
Most analysts have argued that Ahmadinejad's remarks have been due to his inexperience, and do not reflect the policies of the regime, and that the supreme leader and other leaders of the oligarchy are reining him in. Their argument is based on three observations. First, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei delegated more powers to Ali Akbar Rafsanjani as chairman of the Council for the Expediency of the System. Second, four of Ahmadinejad's nominees for cabinet posts were initially rejected by the hard-line Majlis. Third, Ahmadinejad's first three nominees for minister of oil were rejected, and only the fourth one, who had been serving as deputy, was eventually confirmed.
One of the more extreme examples of the dominant view is expressed by Columbia University professor Gary Sick, who stated, "Ahmadinejad's role has been very substantially reduced. . . . He's been in office for a hundred days. He's done nothing. I think people are looking around and saying 'This guy is a disaster.' I think they [the regime] are going to isolate him and quarantine him." In January 2006 Sick reiterated his view, saying, "I think there's no question whatsoever that internally, without a lot of fanfare, the leadership of Iran is letting Ahmadinejad know in no uncertain terms that this is very dangerous and it's very harmful to Iran."
In this essay, I intend to show that Ahmadinejad's comments were not inadvertent words of an inexperienced official. Rather, they were carefully chosen...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 634-649
After the shah’s regime was overthrown by the Iranian revolution of 1979, activists representing Islamic fundamentalism, led by Ayatollah Khomeini, formed an Islamic government, which over the past few decades has endured much internal and international turmoil. Many leading figures have appeared on the revolutionary stage and many have left. One of the survivors of these upheavals is the politician and Muslim cleric Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani (b. 1934), who still plays a powerful role in Iranian politics. Once speaker of the Parliament (1980–89), acting commander-in-chief of the armed forces (1988), and president for two terms (1989–97), Rafsanjani currently chairs the Expediency Council and serves as the deputy chairman of the Assembly of Experts. He also cofounded the Islamic Republican Party, which played a central role in Iranian politics until 1987, when it was dismantled. Rafsanjani’s prerevolutionary anti-shah activities helped him earn a powerful position among the revolutionary elite who gained power in 1979. He also became famous for his ability to maneuver between opposing factions. His career, consisting of an amalgamation of opposition, maneuvers, compromises, and political flirtations, has enabled him to stay in the limelight since the revolution by being responsive but still vague enough to remain an object for interpretation. In the early 1980s, when political parties could still openly discuss the newly established regime, members of the Tudeh Party, a pro-Soviet and Marxist group, had a favorable view of him. This group directly or indirectly supported Rafsanjani and his approach over that of Mehdi Bazargan, the more liberal-minded first prime minister after the revolution. Indeed, the pro-Soviet Marxist groups revered Rafsanjani by calling him Comrade Akbar and Bazargan “liberal”—a political insult meaning the person advocated capitalism and was ready to “compromise with U.S. imperialism” once the opportunity arose. They believed that Rafsanjani, in contrast, had anti-imperialist qualities and that he could lead the country on a path of “noncapitalist growth.”
The Marxist groups that promoted these views are no longer present in Iran. The absence of these parties, however, does not prevent us from pondering a few questions. First, why was Rafsanjani, a significant player in the 1979 Islamic revolution and one of the longest-lasting public figures of the new regime, referred to as comrade (refiq), a term reserved in Persian for members of Marxist groups? Why did some Marxist factions portray a fundamentalist Muslim as an advocate of anti-imperialism and progressive social change? Why would certain forces in postrevolutionary politics, including the Soviet-backed Tudeh Party and the Organization of Iranian People’s Fedai Guerillas (OIPFG), believe that Rafsanjani could lead the country toward independence and economic growth? We could ignore these questions and speculate that Rafsanjani received the title as a joke. However, the answers to these questions may explain not only Rafsanjani’s political fortunes but also the roots and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East.
I contend that when the Islamic “paradigm” (an admittedly problematic concept I explore below) comes into contact with other ideological or political paradigms, it responds by producing an ideology similar to the one it has come into contact with—similar in terms of sociopolitical agendas, rituals, and figurative language. In modern times, these responses have included Islamic modernism (also referred to by some scholars as “Islamic liberalism” or “liberal Islam”) as a response to Western influence and Islamic fundamentalism (otherwise known as “militant Islam,” “Islamism,” or “radical Islam”) as a response to Soviet-Marxist influence. To prove this contention, I first make a distinction between Islamic modernism and Islamic fundamentalism. I then review the existing explanations of the ideological roots of the two tendencies, and, from there, I present my own possible explanation of the origins of these factions and expound on the analytical model I propose, that of “paradigmatic response.” I use paradigm to mean an ideology in action (including thoughts, rituals, values...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 512-514
A veritable industry of tributes and honors emerged in the wake of Edward Said's death in September 2003. Aside from the hundreds of memorial articles written about him, numerous academic journals published memorial issues dedicated to Said, as well as conferences that were convened from Toronto to Seoul that celebrated his life and work. The flow of works seems not to have ended. Two collections of essays have recently been published—one of his political writings and the other on humanism and the possibility of democracy in criticism—in addition to a forthcoming book on what he calls "late style." Emerging from this are two recently released documentaries that capture Said in the final stages of his life, Edward Said: The Last Interview and Selves and Others: A Portrait of Edward Said. In addition to these films, a hard-to-find documentary hosted by Said is now available as part of a three-disc set re-release of Gillo Pontecorvo's epic The Battle of Algiers.
Criterion's re-release of The Battle of Algiers has made it possible for the film to be introduced to a new generation of filmgoers and revolutionaries. With the original negative increasingly suffering from the effects of time (and video releases of the film replicate this problem), the film has been beautifully digitally restored by Criterion. Not only has the film become more amenable to viewing, the score has been digitally cleansed, allowing one of the film's most haunting elements to be felt more intimately. Along with the restored version of the film, the Criterion set features a fascinating documentary that follows Pontecorvo as he returns to Algeria in the early 1990s to witness the struggle of postcolonial state building. Amassing a veritable army of commentaries on the film and its context, Criterion has also included a hard-to-find documentary hosted by Said titled Gillo Pontecorvo: The Dictatorship of the Truth. Being interested in the film for obvious reasons, Said has written elsewhere on it, specifically in an essay titled "The Quest for Gillo Pontecorvo" collected in his Reflections on Exile. Filmed in 1992, the documentary recounts Pontecorvo's life and films. Said laments Pontecorvo's inability to produce more films, especially considering the important issues that Pontecorvo's films raise for audiences around the world. Said argues (sitting in an empty movie theater, no less) that Pontecorvo's "films leave us with a lot of questions. Questions like, can empires be defeated, or, is there a possibility for relationships between Western societies and non-Western that are not based on oppression and discrimination?" Although the film itself focuses on Pontecorvo, its thoughtfulness, critical approach, and the pertinent questions it raises are distinctly Saidan.
Selves and Others is largely standard fare as Said documentaries go. Examining various key elements of his work and life with a cursory glance, the film replicates other documentaries that have been made about Said. Directed by Emmanuel Hamon, the film begins with Said driving around New York, talking about his illness and his life in America. Shifting between his New York apartment and his office at Columbia, Said discusses the central themes of his life and his career. Despite the intimate subject matter, be it his work, his love of music, his exilic condition, or his politics, he speaks about these intimate topics with almost complete detachment. Following Said to a lecture where he shares the stage with his Israeli friend and collaborator Daniel Barenboin, Said fields questions on identity, politics, and the role of music in forging cross-cultural communication. Except for a brief moment where he plays the piano, Said seems more apathetic than interested in the questions that the interviewer (offscreen) poses. The film ends with Said discussing one of the most...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 694-695
This book consists of essays produced for a two-day symposium in 2001 at the University of California, Berkeley, combined with several pieces added later, and is edited by two faculty members at Berkeley who have contributed four out of the twelve pieces. The essays fall into three sections that privilege cross-regional commentary and analysis: “Liberalization, Globalization, and Urban Informality”; “The Politics of Urban Informalities”; and “Transnational Interrogation.” In practice, the three-part organization of the book is unnecessary for an appreciation of these chapters, which range from empirical excursions to methodological and theoretical inquiries. It may be more useful to follow the blurb on the back cover by Manuel Castells, who suggests that “it should be mandatory reading for courses on urbanization and on development studies.” The chapters juxtapose viewpoints on fieldwork, data structures, analytical categories, and transnational strategies that constitute, as Ananya Roy points out in the final essay, the components of a university-level pedagogy. Used from this perspective, the volume provides instructors with a series of “historicized lessons” that, taken as a whole or in part, may allow advanced undergraduate or graduate students to comprehend research on the universe experienced by perhaps one-quarter of humanity.
Several of the chapters are investigations of the informal condition’s relationship to the global economy and the state. The shortest piece, and perhaps the most impressive, is a discussion by Arif Hasan of informal housing and employment regimes in Karachi. Coming from an architectural design and planning background, taking the viewpoint of the nongovernmental organization, the author gives us short, punchy sentences portraying the forces and agencies that make inevitable the urban slum and institutionalized insecurity. Oren Yiftachel and Haim Yakobi provide an introductory theoretical envelope in their chapter on “urban ethnocracy” and “the production of segregative urban space” (212), but the heart of their chapter—an empirical description of the Israeli state’s “internal frontier” policies in the “Negev Regiopolis”—is a powerful demonstration of neoracist planning in practice. In a succinct summary of her book City Requiem, Calcutta (2003), Roy describes how New Communism uses flexible strategies of “urban developmentalism” to perpetuate informal ownership—and in a bold addendum, she attempts an analysis in five pages that shows how regimes of accumulation are regimes of gender and the family.
Some of the chapters are empirical excursions that demonstrate the feasibility of methodologies. Janice E. Perlman’s contribution rests on a series of follow-up interviews in Rio de Janeiro during the late 1990s with about one-third of the persons originally contacted in the early 1970s during the preparation of her book Myth of Marginality (1976). Her work demonstrates how oral interactions enable the assembly of impressive statistical arrays that not only describe the lived environment but also allow critiques of nomenclature positing a “new marginality” amid an intensified lawlessness and globalized consumerism. Ahmed M. Solomon’s “Tilting at Sphinxes” provides the most policy-oriented piece in this collection, describing a typology and quantifying semi-informal, squatting, and hybrid or exformal housing in Cairo and Alexandria, potentially enabling the state to regularize titles. Peter M. Ward’s piece on Texas colonias summarizes survey work presented to the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs on “quasi-formal homestead subdivisions” that may total sixteen hundred sites with more than four hundred thousand persons. This is a welcome contribution to a field that often creates a “third world” envelope around informality research—a discourse addressed (and perpetuated) at several points in this book (2, 80, 95, 308–11).
The remaining essays present category debates and theoretical language that contextualize the multidisciplinary field studying informality. Included in this group are two short, introductory essays by the editors that place the informal within an American lineage of urban studies. The following piece by Alan Gilbert continues...
Given the (un)holy marriage of neo-imperial violence and orientalist rhetoric that fuels the current war in Iraq (and more generally the "war on terror"), it is of particular importance to know the history of such rhetoric in the United States. While as academic disciplines, history and indeed literary studies may seem less than relevant in times when history itself seems to be actively in the making rather than passively residing in books, it is precisely in such times that the historical long view becomes both guide and tool, arming us with rhetoric to combat the murderous conflation of rhetoric and armed violence that is practiced by the perpetrators of the war.
Given this context, the publication of Brian T. Edwards's Morocco Bound is particularly timely and welcome. Edwards's text traces the prehistory of present manifestations of U.S. orientalism and exceptionalist nationalism, focusing on the form of orientalism that preceded America's current murderous preoccupation with the Middle East: "Before 1973, when American popular attention turned more decidedly toward the Middle East coincident with the OPEC price hike and Arab oil embargo (which struck close to home because of its effect on domestic fuel prices), representations of the Maghreb played a leading role in the formations of American ideas about the Arab" (1). He charts this orientalist construction of the Maghreb in popular and literary texts ranging from Casablanca and editorials about/from the North African campaign during World War II, to the transnational writings of William Burroughs, Mohammed Mrabet, Paul Bowles, and Jane Bowles, to the "hippy orientalist" construction of Morocco in the 1960s and early 1970s.
In doing so, Edwards makes important and innovative contributions both to postcolonial theory and to the emerging field of transnational American studies. In the context of postcolonial theory, Morocco Bound fleshes out and adds historical depth to Edward Said's generative analysis of American imperialism in the concluding chapter to Culture and Imperialism. Morocco Bound thus restores an important link between early expressions of extracontinental imperialism that emerged out of the Spanish-American War and the forms of neo-imperialism that currently characterize the U.S. relationship to the Middle East (and many other parts of the globe). Indeed, Morocco Bound is the latest American studies text to suggest that the history of the United States can be productively charted in terms of successive waves of imperial endeavor, from the early history of continental expansion to its present position as neo-imperial hegemon of the capitalist world-system.
In exploring an important moment in this imperial history and in examining American and non-American literary and cultural production in a transnational context, Edwards's text becomes the latest in a series of groundbreaking works to challenge an exceptionalist or exclusively national understanding of American culture. Texts such as José David Saldívar's Border Matters, Shelley Streeby's American Sensations, Rob Wilson's Reimagining the American Pacific, Amy Kaplan's The Anarchy of Empire in the Making of U.S. Culture, and Kirsten Silva Gruesz's Ambassadors of Culture have produced a newly relational, yet critical, understanding of American culture that restores the transnational, imperial, global contexts that are obscured by the triumphalist and nationalist accounts that for too long have dominated the field. While it always runs the danger of writing American culture large on the rest of the globe (thereby reproducing the imperialism that it is designed to contest), at its best transnational American studies politically situates the United States and its various cultural formations within a politicized understanding of global cultural and economic exchange. For the most part, Morocco Bound manifests the virtues, and avoids the pitfalls, of this emergent field. Edwards brings an impressive knowledge of both American and Moroccan literary and cultural history as well as a comparativist's command of multiple languages (most crucially Arabic) to bear on his subject. While the book's cross-cultural vantage would have been further enriched by a more fully developed consideration of Maghrebi texts written in Arabic, as a theorization of the imperial imaginary of a certain site and moment of U.S. and transnational literary and cultural production, the text is superlative.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 677-686
Despite the striking similarities between the two Persian Gulf states of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and the similar positioning of South Asian expatriates in them, language, policing, and gender practices help produce significantly different expatriate experiences in these two Gulf settings. The cultural currents flow in different directions, pointing one society toward the Middle East and the other toward South Asia. These experiences are to some extent historically determined but depend also on contemporary policies and demographic configurations. While the economic forces of globalization strongly affect social and cultural domains, “anthropology has repeatedly focused not only on the pervasiveness of power, but on the power of culture.”
Historical ties between South Asia and some of the Gulf states, particularly Oman and the UAE, are long-standing. In the eighteenth century, British empire building led to efforts to protect the trade route to India, and that meant dealing with the maritime empire of the Omani sultanate and the Qawasim tribal confederacy, the latter based in Ash Shariqah and Ra’s al Khaymah. Nineteenth-century battles of the Qawasim confederacy with British forces led to the trucial system, under which the small polities of the Gulf signed separate treaties or truces with the British government. This process began in 1820 and was sealed in 1853 with the Perpetual Maritime Truce signed by the present members of the UAE.
British dominance in the Gulf continued to be oriented to India. British relationships with the Gulf polities were first directed by the provincial government of Bombay, then after 1873 by the colonial government of India, and after Indian and Pakistani independence in1947 by the British Foreign Office. Britain conducted separate relations with each state, leading to separate flags, travel documents or passports, and ultimately national anthems. Thus the states, whose boundaries and relations with each other had been historically fluid, developed distinct identities.
Yet British dominance also produced important commonalities. The Indian rupee was the principal currency in the Gulf, Indian stamps were used (overlaid with state names), political officers applied British Indian regulations, and Urdu (Hindustani) words infiltrated the Arabic coastal dialect. Yemeni and other Gulf Arabs worked as soldiers in Indian native states, including Hyderabad. Other links to India included those developed through the pearl-diving industry, the mainstay of most Gulf economies before the oil discoveries commenced in the 1930s. For example, Gulf merchants sent pearls to Hyderabad, India, for stringing and setting into jewelry. The 1929 Wall Street crash, the resultant world economic depression, and the Japanese introduction of cultured pearls brought about the collapse of the pearl industry, plunging the Gulf economies into crisis. But it was just at that time that foreign oil companies began arriving in search of concessions, and the oil concessions established a pattern of reliance on foreign expertise and manpower that has persisted beyond the termination of the foreign oil concessions in the late 1970s.
Thus the Gulf states rely heavily on expatriates, including South Asians, for whom there are opportunities to use their skills for higher pay and in better working conditions than at home. Businessmen, professionals, service workers, and laborers have left their home countries to become expatriate workers. But it is the Arab rulers who control these labor flows through laws that set a “steel frame” for work and family life. In the Gulf, we see a unique example, perhaps, of transnationalism as a deliberate strategy of economic and political governance.
The Gulf rulers launched their states into the modern world with the help of expatriates. The pearl industry, on which most Gulf states depended before the 1930s, was based on indigenous technology and expertise, but the oil concessions brought in expatriates, and as the Gulf states develop and diversify their economies, their small and relatively unskilled populations still need the help of expatriate managers and workers. These Gulf oil-exporting states are exceptionally wealthy, and their citizens receive many economic benefits. Home ownership is nearly universal for...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 438-448
The pioneering Egyptian socialist intellectual Salamah Musa (1887–1958) writes in the first lines of his memoirs:
In his memories, he conjures up a vision free of any signs of modernity. Just as his donkey walks away from the capital’s train station, his narrative leaves behind radically new forms of communication, transportation, economy, and thought that had reached the Cairene metropole and Egyptian countryside by the late 1890s. His narrative omits technologies and the new political economy of Egypt that emerge even as he is refusing them. Foremost among these technologies were the literary-scientific journal and newspaper, both immensely popular since their inception in the nineteenth century. Musa, himself born in the provincial town of Zagazig, worked or published in journals such as Mustafa Kamil’s nationalist al-Liwa’ (The Brigade) in 1908, Jurji Zaydan’s al-Hilal (The Crescent), Y’aqub Sarruf’s al-Muqtataf (The Harvest), and May Ziyadah’s al-Mahrusah (Cairo, the Protected), among others, as well as starting two of his own journals, al-Mustaqbal (The Future, 1914) and al-Majallah al-jadidah (The New Journal, 1929). He acknowledges that his own education—that is, the awakening of his own political, intellectual, and social consciousness—was radicalized by the thought of nationalist leaders and other “pioneers of the Arab Renaissance” (ruwwad al-nahdah), whose writings were disseminated virtually exclusively through their own literary-scientific journals and newspapers.
The blindness endemic to Musa’s self-reflections—the inability or refusal to see the harbingers of modernity around him—recalls innumerable earlier writings by Arab reformers of the Tanzimat period that pondered the underdevelopment, “feudalism,” and “backwardness” (takhalluf) of the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Among the earliest of such ponderings, Salim al-Bustani, son of the renowned social intellectual and encyclopedist Butrus al-Bustani, wrote an editorial in 1870 titled “Why Are We Backward?” He answers that the “Easterners,” particularly those of the Syrian provinces, lack unity and fraternal love. Consequently, his compatriots surrendered themselves to ignorance, sectarianism, materialism, tribal prejudice, and fanaticism, resulting in national division, internal strife, and vulnerability to foreign economic and political expansion. Salim’s analysis is important not only because he was a prolific thinker but also because he is seen to be among the progenitors of Arab political and social journalism. In fact, the force of his influence must be largely ascribed to the birth of print media, which he and his father forged. Indeed, Salim’s weekly editorial column, titled “Reform,” opened every issue of his groundbreaking journal al-Jinan (The Garden). The commentary, firmly positivist in vision and analysis, engaged virtually every topic imaginable, from women’s rights and consumerism to local, regional, and global political developments. By introducing scientific knowledge and humanist political and social principles, al-Jinan was the prototype for innumerable journals that worked to integrate the Arab world into a new age, the modern age.
Allegations that the precepts of humanism and ethos of modernity are antithetical to Arab culture, Islam, and the “Arab mind” itself are common in the recent history of the Arab world. Most recently, Thomas Friedman, Dennis Ross, Samuel Huntington, Daniel Pipes, Fareed Zakaria, Bernard Lewis, and Charles Krauthammer have all launched campaigns about how the Arab world has failed to progress and modernize. Indeed, the accusations against the Arab world have become stronger and more virulent since September 11, 2001. Echoing V. S. Naipaul, Newsweek editor Fareed Zakaria states in his now infamous “Why Do They Hate Us?” that “only when you get to the Middle...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.2 (2005) 279-296
Nationalist historiography has viewed Iranian-Armenian identity as exclusively and unchangingly Armenian, with little if any multiplicity. Nationalist Armenian historiography has presented Iranian-Armenians as foremost and primarily Armenian with only secondary, and therefore, less significant, attachments to Iran. In a similar manner, nationalist Iranian historiography has dealt with the Iranian-Armenians as an ethnically and religiously different minority and has neglected to recognize their role in the formation of Iranian national identity. By placing the focus on a Perso-Muslim identity of Iran, it has for the most part failed to acknowledge minority, in this case Armenian, perspectives and identities not because they necessarily opposed Iranian nationalist ideals, but because they challenged along with other Iranians an exclusive, homogeneous concept of Iran.
Both historiographies have assumed identity to be fixed and primordial. Terms such as awakening, rebirth, and even consciousness are often used by proponents of nationalist causes and movements as well as scholars and imply that people had been asleep or in an unconscious state or even that they had lost their "true" identity, which in turn implies that ethnic identity is primordial and therefore durable, natural, and intrinsically cultural and, therefore, emotional and essential. Although as social scientist Richard Jenkins admits, one cannot "deny the longevity and stubbornness, under particular circumstances, of ethnic attachments," it is necessary to recognize that the common misconception within nationalist historiography that ethnic identity has always been the primary and fixed identity of Armenians is problematic and denies the reality of internal and external political, intellectual, and social circumstances and transformations that, as this study shows, have created a multiplicity of identities, coexisting and competing for primacy in different periods. Similarities exist with other diasporas as pointed out by anthropologist James Clifford, who contends, "Whatever their ideologies of purity, diasporic cultural forms can never, in practice, be exclusively nationalist. They are deployed in transnational networks built from multiple attachments, and they encode practices of accommodation with, as well as resistance to, host countries and their norms."
This study examines the way in which Armenians in Iran perceived themselves, their community, their present and future role and status in Iranian society and politics, and their relationship with the Iranian nation being forged during the constitutional period of 1906–11. The study takes into account and discusses the way in which Iranian-Armenian identity was socially constructed, that is, as social anthropologist Fredrik Barth explains in his work on the anthropology of ethnicity, "produced under particular interactional, historical, economic and political circumstances." The study also explores the way in which identity was deeply influenced by context and setting, that is, was "highly situational"; multiple, fluid, and negotiable; a matter of individual and elite choice based on a perception of interests and benefits. In other words, identity must, according to Barth, "depend on ascription and self-ascription: only insofar as individuals embrace it, are constrained by it, act on it, and experience it will ethnicity [or in our case any form of identification] make organizational difference." In this way, Iranian-Armenian identity shares much with other ethnic and group identities; therefore, many aspects of the social science scholarship on ethnicity and identity apply to the Iranian-Armenian case in this period.
While this study often refers to theory, the intention here is not to try to fit the Iranian-Armenian case into a model. Rather, it is to bring together the evidence and theoretical perspectives in order to place the issue of Armenian identity in a larger framework that at once recognizes the commonality of human experience with issues of identity while simultaneously helping to see Armenian identities as closely bound to historical context and contemporary circumstances. This study...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 554-566
In Central Asia, as in other regions of the world with large Muslim populations, opposition groups are increasingly turning to the ideas of militant Islam in their efforts to challenge authoritarian rule. Activists from Kokand to Kabul have learned that political Islam provides an unusually potent language of opposition. In Central Asia, a wide array of opposition movements—the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, the Islamic Renaissance Party, and Hizb ut-Tahrir—have, with varying degrees of militancy, applied the banner of Islam to their struggle with local authoritarian rule. The March 2004 suicide bombings and gun battles in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in which more than forty people died and dozens were injured are only the most recent reminder that, despite seven decades of Soviet rule, Islam remains a powerful mobilizing force in Central Asia.
That Islamist movements have reemerged in Central Asia in the wake of the Soviet collapse is clear. What is less clear, however, is why tensions between the state and Islam have been significantly more pronounced in some Central Asian regions than in others. Variations in the extent, militancy, and intensity of Islamist movements, much like the many different and markedly varied authoritarian states these movements oppose, are rarely differentiated in the social science literature. Thus, while scholars have helpfully devised theories to explain the recent upsurge in Islamist political mobilization, few of these theories explain why Islamist movements are more pronounced and more militant in some authoritarian states than in others. Seeing these differences in Islamist mobilization to be of both theoretical interest to social science theory and immediate import to state-society conflicts not only in Central Asia but also in the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, and, more and more, in the Western world, I seek to explain the root causes of variations in political Islam.
Scholars have devoted considerable attention to the question of political Islam. Historian Bernard Lewis and political scientist Samuel Huntington, for example, write that the globalization of Western culture has sparked an Islamist backlash. Central Asian political leaders, for their part, have argued that the Islamist opposition has been artificially crafted through the meddling of foreign “extremists” from Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, and Pakistan. Rashid Kadyrov, the Uzbek prosecutor general, said of the 29–30 March 2004 Tashkent bombings, for example, “The character and method of this act is not common to our people … It was probably exported from abroad.” Problematically, however, while these clash of civilizations and foreign intervention arguments may capture part of the cause, they nevertheless treat Islamist opposition as an undifferentiated whole. That is, they provide few insights into why some Islamist movements are more militant and why conflict between the state and Islam is greater in some countries than in others. In this essay I directly address this variation. More specifically, I seek to explain why tensions between the state and Islam have proven greater—and considerably more violent—in Uzbekistan than they have in Kyrgyzstan. Through a comparison of Islamist movements in these two countries, I find that international variables, be they the encroachment of foreign cultures or foreign missionaries and foreign financial support, indeed are important to the spread of political Islam in Central Asia. The varying strength of the Islamist movements, however, is a result of decidedly local politics. Political Islam in Central Asia is a response to autocratic rule. And, problematically for the West and its newfound allies among the Central Asian leadership, the more autocratic this rule is, the greater resonance and popular support militant Islamist movements gain.
This article, in sum, provides an explanation for local-level variations in political Islam. To achieve this, I proceed in four steps. In section one I discuss the literature on political Islam and outline the insights this literature holds for the current spread of political Islam in Central Asia. In section two I compare these leading hypotheses to the domestic-level explanation I offer in contrast. In section three, I illustrate how, while the international context is important to social mobilization, the marked...
A virtually unshakable faith in the virtues of worldwide private entrepreneurship is an essential, core belief of globalization, an economic doctrine and policy prescription that has been promoted enthusiastically in the West since the early 1980s as a panacea for reducing, even eliminating, persistent poverty in third world countries. Globalization is an evolution of modernization, an economic development theory that emerged in the 1950s and dominated the approach of the United States and its allies to the so-called LDCs (less developed countries) until the late 1970s. However, whereas modernization theory relied on a strong state to intervene in regulating the market and providing various forms of social security for citizens—classic economic liberalism—proponents of globalization perceive state intervention in the economy as inevitably negative and thus seek a dramatic reduction in the regulatory powers of the state. Globalization thus is a new form of economic liberalism, or neoliberalism; because its superpower patron is the United States and its institutional promoters are Washington-based international financial institutions (the International Monetary Fund and World Bank), it often is referred to as the Washington consensus.
The market is supreme for neoliberal advocates of globalization, a market that they envision as operating free of government interventions such as environmental, production, and trade regulations; taxes; tariffs; and minimum-wage laws. This devotion to the free market, writes Roksana Bahramitash, author of the book under review, may be called "market fundamentalism" (see chap. 1, 19–32). Market fundamentalism does bring great wealth to a small minority of investors in countries that adopt free trade polices, but far from alleviating poverty and income inequality, which it is supposed to do through a trickle-down effect, there exists a compelling body of economic evidence demonstrating neoliberalism's record of exacerbating the economic problems of low-income groups, which collectively comprise the majority of people in most third world countries. Furthermore, women make up a disproportionately large share of the poor. In effect, the poor, especially poor women whose work generally is undervalued and mostly unrecorded in official statistics, pay for market fundamentalism, the benefits of which accrue to only a tiny minority (43–44; 53–57).
Bahramitash's objective is to demonstrate how neoliberal economic policies actually lead to a deteriorating status for the poor. The reasons why such policies disadvantage low-income groups, particularly women, are complex and intertwined, but an essential reason relates directly to neoliberalism's staunch opposition to any state role in the economy. Governments that had followed the classic liberal model generally implemented diverse interventionist programs, including ones such as food and fuel subsidies that helped the poor. But neoliberals called for extensive government retrenchment, and in many third world countries the International Monetary Fund actually made the reduction or even elimination of subsidies (among other measures) a condition for obtaining necessary credit to finance development projects. Subsidies comprise only one form of the social welfare functions abandoned by states embracing neoliberalism; in most cases, these functions are transferred to private organizations, especially to women's groups created in response to the international interest in gender consciousness (61).
Bahramitash supports her argument about female impoverishment through an analysis of three countries in which she conducted field research on women and employment during the 1990s: Indonesia, the Philippines, and Taiwan. She supplements her own data with official statistics from governments and international organizations. And she shows how each of these island nations has had a unique colonial experience and history of women in the labor force. Of the three case studies, Indonesia is interesting for several reasons. First, its population is predominantly Muslim (87 percent), and with some 200 million adherents of Islam, it is the largest of the fifty-plus Muslim majority countries. Second, it was under the colonial rule of the Netherlands for three centuries, a period during which its economy was developed for the production of export crops on specialized agricultural plantations; peasants were forced to work on these estates, which the Dutch allowed to remain under the ownership of a co-opted, indigenous landlord class as long as most profits accrued to them (107–8). Third, there emerged a tradition of women being part of the paid labor...
The title of this article is borrowed from Trudier Harris's essay that analyzes the reception of Alice Walker's The Color Purple. Harris argues that Walker had been chosen by the one-track-minded American media, which, "by its very racist nature, seems able to focus on only one black writer at a time." The publicity had in turn created "a cadre of spectator readers . . . who do not identify with the characters and who do not feel the intensity of their pain, [but] stand back and view the events of the novel as a circus of black human interactions." Harris suggests that the acclaim Walker's novel received had discouraged critics from writing critical reviews, even though the characters appeared implausible against the historical background and experience of black Americans.
I raise similar concerns about the increasing critical focus on Mariama Bâ's novels, particularly Une si longue lettre (So Long a Letter). Bâ's first of two novels is currently about the most popular African woman-authored novel in the United States and is featured in reading lists of courses that range from French to African and women's studies. However, there is little or uneasy acknowledgment that Bâ and her characters represent a small and privileged section of African societies or that her women have condescending views of African traditions consistent with colonial ideologies. The few critics who have been categorical about this reality have been criticized for ignoring the colonial masculine privilege. Between them and those who read Bâ's work as an expression of a feminist consciousness, the intricacies and the human complexities in the narrative are minimized, while the biases and assumptions behind the popularity of the work remain unquestioned. In this article, I argue that the popularity of Bâ's novel rides on stereotypes of African cultures as inimical to love, individual fulfillment, and monogamy. I trace these images to the imperial framework and locate them in the criticism of her work.
Femi Ojo-Ade's critical review of So Long a Letter is perhaps the best place to begin such an analysis because of the status it has since acquired in African literary criticism. As Pius Adesanmi has noted, Ojo-Ade seems to have carved a niche in literary criticism on the basis of the article, probably because he was a male critic who gave an unfavorable review to an African woman's book. However, his criticism of Bâ's feminism as condescending toward African traditions is well merited and shared by J. O. J. Nwachukwu-Agbada, Katwiwa Mule, and Uzo Esonwanne.
Although I generally agree with these critics' concerns, I find some weaknesses in their approach as well as in other scholars' responses to their analyses. Both sides of the debate neglect the human and emotional aspects that underlie So Long a Letter. The novel is a letter from Ramatoulaye to her friend Aïssatou, and many of their common values and experiences are therefore assumed and remain in the background of the narrative. The intimacy of the friendship and the genre are necessary for Ramatoulaye as she mourns the death of her husband, Modou, a man she appears to still love despite his having left her for one of their daughter's best friends after twenty-ﬁve years of marriage. However, Mule minimizes this situation when he remarks that during the mourning rites, Ramatoulaye "is more concerned with cola nut stains on her house tiles than with the ritual of bonding at time of death in the community." These comments ignore the fact that the bereaved usually focus on minute details of events because of the intensity of their pain, and they ultimately discount the fact that Ramatoulaye's goal is to articulate her experience rather than offer a lucid analysis of social problems left behind by colonialism.
Both the genre and the friendship necessarily exclude the detached voice, civility, and rigorous analysis that normally characterize academic study, and so, overt analysis of broader political and economic issues remains secondary to the emotions on which the correspondence is based. Moreover, any human being who loses the love of his or her life is not in the frame of mind to...
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, evidence of the Baluch population could be found in the service of the Al Ya'rubi of Oman, mainly as mercenary troops. Officers were called jam'dar and soldiers sowar. To the Arabs of Oman, these Baluch corps constituted their military power (al-shawkah) and their strength and were an indispensable tool in the conquest and maintaining of Omani tribal power. It was, however, with the Omani dynasty of the Al Bu Sa'id of Oman—starting around the first half of the nineteenth century—that the Baluch, and the coastal strip of Makran, the main region in south Central Asia of their origin, became an institutional part of the Omani governmental forces and major political leaders. Baluch tribes also settled in other Gulf areas beside Oman, and in separate villages, practicing their tribal customs and speaking their language.
Being Baluch is a question of geographical and cultural identity; therefore their integration in the Arab regions of the Gulf has been always assured and stable when closely related to their original corporate role of defense force. Consequently, the role of Baluch—especially Makrani—in the Arab Gulf countries has been growing and modifying itself since the nineteenth century. During the twentieth century, Baluch cultural identity, and most of all the Baluch presence in numerical terms with respect to Arab Gulf nationals, did become a significant reality, and also a cultural reality. Today there are many integration problems between nationals and nonnationals in most of the Arab Gulf countries, and the Baluch contribution to the richness of Gulf culture and society could represent a significant step toward future cooperation and integration through reform governmental projects. Consequently, when talking about globalization, one should keep in mind that this concept is not new for this particular region. The society of the Gulf has in fact been a "globalized" community from time immemorial; nevertheless, each ethnic group composing this cosmopolitan world succeeded in preserving its own cultural identity.
In the United Arab Emirates, for example, there are today 135,700 southern Baluch (7 percent of the population) as a part of a larger community of about 8 million. Starting in the late 1950s, sudden wealth made this region one of the richest of the world. Here the Baluch found work as unskilled laborers, policemen, or fishermen. Other Baluch joined the military. Still others labored in the oil fields and on the farms of the wealthy Gulf states. Although the Baluch work extremely hard, they are much better off than they were in Baluchistan, one of the poorest areas of the world. One of the main causes of the Baluch "diaspora" to the other shores of the Arabian Sea largely results from their lands of origin, which I describe together with their society's conditions and customs.
The Baluch reside mainly in Baluchistan, a dry, desolate region in the southeastern part of the Iranian plateau. It extends from the Kerman desert to the east of Bam and the Beshagard mountains and to the western borders of the Sind and Punjab provinces of today's Pakistan. During the second half of the nineteenth century, Baluchistan was divided by the British between Iran and Pakistan. These two states had a dispute concerning the border dividing the two parts of Baluchistan; it was resolved by an agreement signed in 1959.
Iranian Baluchistan is a part of the Sistan and Baluchistan provinces. The barren land of Iranian Baluchistan, situated on the southeastern side of the country, is part of "Great Baluchistan," with the other half located in Pakistan. The province is divided into four regions—Sarhadi, Sarawan, Bampur, and Makran—based on their environmental differences.
One of the main characteristics of Baluchistan is the variation in flora and fauna that exists because of the climatic differences. This multifeatured, inhospitable land has given rise to people of different ethnos. The ethnic diversity is such that one can find Baluch and Brohi Arabs, Jats and Kurds, and also blacks, whose ancestors had once been brought to this land as slaves from East Africa by the Omani Arabs.
Historically it is believed that the Baluch moved to Makran from Kerman province to flee an expedition...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 697-699
Not a work of straightforward criticism, or a religious disquisition, or quite an autobiography, Neela Bhattacharya Saxena’s In the Beginning Is Desire: Tracing Kali’s Footprints in Indian Literature issues its first challenge to the reader with the question of categories. What genre of work is this? Disconcerting in its unabashedly devotional spirit, the book forces the reader into a fruitful meditation on questions of canon, genre, period, East and West, subjective and objective criticism, and disciplinary boundaries. In her foreword to In the Beginning Is Desire, Rachel Fell McDermott, a Hinduism scholar, suggests that the author, “though a scholar,” is “marvelously unconstrained” even by the strictures that govern discussions of the goddess Kali within customary canons of interpretation. Amen. Its second challenge is to trouble the category of literature, its titular unit of analysis, returning us to its now-antiquated sense of the word in which it stood for polite and humane learning within a wide-ranging variety of discursive traditions. Saxena thus roams freely through religious texts, histories, and literature as we now routinely understand it. She does so, moreover, through various periods in history, taking in her stride various languages and a vast swath of geocultural landscapes. The footprints of Kali are thus as likely to be found in the Rig Veda as they are in Buddhist stories, Sufi poetry, a Romanian novel, or contemporary plays and novels, even if the writer and protagonist should be Muslim. Indeed, the author declares that she “conceive[s] India in literary terms,” making free use of philosophical, literary, and spiritual texts, constrained only, if at all, by the pursuit of Kali’s footprints as manifest in the theme of female desire. Since “Kali’s supreme manifestation” is “vac or word,” desire itself is defined broadly, so as to encompass sound and desire as vibrations of consciousness itself taking form in aesthetic expression. The project thus articulated is founded in the premise that “be it in literature or philosophy, humans have used the magic of words to express the inexpressible, often not knowing that in the very sound they utter lives the seed of all knowing” (4).
In a crucial sense, Saxena’s readings of her selected texts transform the routinized piety of the politics of auctorial identification and location into a genuine attempt to conflate the act of reading with an almost spiritually inspired journey of the self through textual terrain. Rather than the decorous stance of objectivity, these days so commonly inflected and signaled by stock gestures of self-positioning of a usually sociopolitical identity, we find in this book a bold devotee of Kali moving comfortably between long autobiographical moments, brief histories of various religious traditions and text, and discussion of literary texts. The theme of a journey of the self and of desire marks all the discussions, obliging the reader to readjust schematic expectations and conceive new relationships between the different levels of dialogue. Desire to create, interact, and express operates through all the levels and guides the reading of the different texts, imputing such desire, in turn, to the texts (and their authors). The aesthetic and the spiritual are thus conjoined in the critical as well as in the creative act, recalling us to readings of the utopian function of literature in the works of critics such as Theodor Adorno and Walter Benjamin, who have also spoken of the promise, albeit failed, of art and literature “to awaken us to ourselves,” as Saxena puts it (5). Kali is known through the senses, and we recall that aesthetics, after all, is the capacity for sensation and perception. Although its primary focus is on India, the book does not confine its argument about a gynocentric understanding of female subjectivity as a foundation for resisting oppression in India alone. Not surprising, desire, for the author, is “an instrument of liberation” (50). And desire, like Kali, is everywhere, as is...
Seven millions sons, oh devoted Mother, you have made into Bengalis, not men.
Goal!" thundered eighty thousand spectators in Calcutta's soccer stadium when Abilash Ghosh of Mohun Bagan grabbed a quick pass from Shibdas Bhaduri and hit the ball into the net against East York. Within two minutes the final match for the Indian Football Association (IFA) shield between East York, a British military team, and Mohun Bagan, a team of Calcutta Bengalis, came to an end on 29 July 1911. So electrifying was the victory for the Bengalis that many started tearing their shirts and waving them in the air. Even members of the Moslem Sporting Club (a pioneering soccer team of Bengal Muslims), forgetting bitter moments of Hindu-Muslim conflict during the anti-partition movement that took place between 1903 and 1911, "went almost mad . . . [started] rolling on the ground . . . on the victory of their Hindu brethren." The event became international news as Reuters reported that "for the first time in the history of Indian Football, a core Bengali team, Mohun Bagan, won the IFA Shield by defeating a competent White team." Euphoria did not die down as the next morning, 30 July 1911, the Bengali, a nationalist daily of Calcutta, published a poem by the Mohun Bagans:
Thanks my friends of football renown, For bringing the British teams down A victory grand to behold, Serene and noble-bright and bold.
The Bengali narrative of this event no doubt demonstrates the relationship between sports and nationalism in the imperial context. Indeed, recent research demonstrates that sports, with its tense spectacular drama for a limited period, highlights moments of nationalist outpouring and transforms the imagined community of nation into concrete reality marked by intense emotion, sentimentality, and display of physical prowess. This sporting event can also be read as a spectacle transmitting and creating a specific idea of an imagined Bengali community. This event in Calcutta also touches a crucial cultural aspect of emerging Indian nationalism among Hindus of Bengal, namely, the quest for manhood. No doubt the effete image of Bengalis portrayed by many British colonial officials impinged on the consciousness of Bengali Hindus who from the late nineteenth century engaged in a political project of recovery of physical prowess through a physical culture movement. This project was intimately linked with notions of competing masculinities within the colonial milieu.
Masculinity, like other forms of identity, is historically, politically, and culturally constituted. However, as Robert W. Connell claims, one form is always hegemonic. In the nineteenth, twentieth, and early twenty-first centuries, Anglo-American hegemonic masculinity valorized/valorizes traits such as rationality, martial prowess, muscular strength, competition, individualism, and male camaraderie, as well as a zero-sum approach to confrontation. It is important to note that even within the parameters of hegemonic masculinity, masculinity was multifaceted, never just the sole exercise of raw power. Further, the hegemony of a certain cultural form of masculinity within the nation also shaped relations with femininities and female bodies.
Hegemonic masculinity has had a complex existence within the British Empire. On the one hand, imperialism configured its ideas of hegemonic masculinities by defining itself against a supposedly "effeminate" colonial other, and on the other hand, the colonized subject created a masculine cultural space that resisted this feminization. With colonizer and colonized locked in struggle, terms of which had been set by Britain's imperial authority, not surprisingly various nationalist responses occurred in incorporating the values of hegemonic masculinity. However, this incorporation did not merely duplicate British ideas but was itself an imaginative configuration of nationalist myths and icons based on traditional cultural ideas aimed at challenging alien colonial rule. The dynamic dance of competing masculinities under the British imperial gaze happened in various colonial spaces: Ireland, Palestine, and Australia. This study of Bengali nationalism is the study of a particular intersection of masculinity and nation in a colonial space quite integral to Britain's empire in India: Bengal.
The quest for masculinity became a crucial component of elite nationalism in Bengal in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Colonial rule had been variously interpreted by different segments of Western-educated Bengali elites as the loss...
Few topics are likely to clear a room more quickly than a proposed consideration of the contentious rise and frequently predicted demise of postcolonial studies on the grounds of imprecision, ahistoricity, irrelevance, or obsolescence. Old hat, all that, and typically prone to generating more heat than light. There is remarkable consensus by now about the limitations and obfuscations of the term, even if the term's complications are usually accepted as unfortunate but by now unremarkable impedimenta that nevertheless do not really impede discussion at all. Refreshingly, this volume steers clear of all those old chestnuts and embarks on a more interesting assessment of the field's current state and its "most promising new developments" (back cover). New areas for postcolonial research such as "media studies, environmental studies, religious studies, linguistic and semantic analysis, autoethnography, and the sociology of global cinema" are identified alongside attention to the longue durée of globalization, its relationship to systems of exploitation, and the belatedness of globalization theory (5). Willing to move "beyond the usual suspects," the editors ask for a remapping of what is understood as the usual discursive domain of postcolonial studies (3). In doing so, moreover, they refuse to foreclose on subsequent evolutions in its scale and scope as they emphasize its processual evolutions. Although unable to eschew the elegiac note entirely, the essays in the volume are devoted, by and large, more productively to a consideration of the work that remains to be done in order to reap better, more meaningful harvest for our times from the lines of inquiry set in motion by the field of postcolonial studies.
The result is a remarkably thoughtful focus on identifying the kind of work that retains "what was most valuable in postcolonial critique" (7). An inquiry into what was most valuable yields epistemological questions about "forms of dominance and resistance," "the constitution of the colonial archive," representation, race, class, gender, sexuality, "ethnographic translation of cultures," and "the search for alternative traces of social being" (13). These questions suggest a methodology of sorts, but, more provocatively, they suggest that postcolonial studies, often accused even by its own practitioners of having swelled to a point of meaninglessness, actually does have a specific object of analysis. This specificity, however, is not predetermined but emerges through an investigative project of uncovering; the analytic object of postcolonial inquiry turns out to be a function of the trademark method and critical technique of postcolonial studies.
Although the editors' thoughtful introduction does not fully develop these exciting implications for defining the method and object of the field, the beginnings of a consideration of questions of method and the mutuality of method and analytic object are amply in evidence. Thus, although one might conclude from the essays in the collection that postcolonial studies is valuable because it furnishes the methods and tools to understand empires old and new, it is perhaps more accurate to say that the field is valuable because it remains critically open to the evolving shape and dimensions of empire, what is old, and what is new. In assigning the field this generative character, the editors successfully dispatch narrowly conceived concerns and quarrels about definition, scale, scope, and relevance and identify a meaningful durable legacy for postcolonial studies, even when, perhaps particularly when, it goes by other names in other disciplines. One comes away understanding that one will recognize the work of the field not by its self-definition as postcolonial inquiry but through a characteristically critical strain and sense of historical urgency. Far from arguing for an ascetically slim and wieldy shape for postcolonial studies—the burden of so much postcolonial criticism in the past—this modality explores the benefits of an even baggier, expanded temporal and spatial scope for the field that is nonetheless rendered coherent by method and integrity of analytic purpose. Less is not more suggest many of the essays, together calling for postcolonial studies to stretch further, back, forward, and deeper in a bid to realize its potential and value.
Several essays in the volume, particularly those by Peter Hulme and Ali Behdad, insist on the newly revealed salience of postcolonial studies in the much-touted contemporary context of globalization. Exploring departures...
The British, Ottoman, and other empires, in contrast to nation-states, claimed by their very nature authority over a variety of subject peoples. This condition drove empires toward contradictory goals: making subject peoples feel they had a stake in the empire while simultaneously differentiating them from the rulers and excluding them from full participation in the actual exercise of state power. The broad bifurcating concepts these empires constructed to distinguish between ruler and ruled often appeared to work adequately overall. In practice, however, such discriminating criteria changed over time and often broke down in particular cases as a result of the definition's inherent contradictions and volatility, the competition among elite groups, and also the resistances and adaptations by individuals subject to such classifications.
Both the British and the Ottomans, priding themselves on their "modernity" and "rule of law," sought to separate peoples through legal and administrative regulations, based on allegedly objective criteria. Yet these criteria shifted over time. India and the other British colonies in Asia lay at some remove, encouraging the British to establish distinctions based on "race" (variously defined), reinforced by the spatial distance between rulers and ruled. In contrast, the contiguous nature of the Ottoman domains made it more difficult for the Ottoman state to carry out similar regulatory action. Instead, the Ottomans applied religion as a major measure of difference between ruler and ruled, stressing the role of Islam as defined by the Ottoman sultan, who was simultaneously the Sunni caliph. For both empires, however, difficulties in applying exact legal boundaries arose from the changing cultural constructions asserted by rival imperial authorities with disparate interests. Simultaneously, these emerging rules were also challenged—for the British in particular—by people of "mixed race," religious converts, and immigrants from the colony who settled in the imperial metropolis. Such marginal or anomalous examples reveal the constructed nature of imperial binary differentiations and their inconsistent putative underlying principles.
This essay concentrates on one instance of this larger process: how during early British colonialism in Asia (up to the mid-nineteenth century), various groups and individuals present in London clashed over the definition and implications of the particularly crucial classification "native of India." This category, by virtually any definition, included the largest number of people within the British Empire. Yet contests over the term's limits and meaning developed in Britain not only as an issue affecting distant millions in far-off India but also particularly in response to the presence of tens of thousands of people from India living in Britain. These legal and moral debates had significant consequences for the British government, for the East India Company's Court of Directors, and, of course, for the diverse people at various times officially designated natives of India.
Over the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, extensive British official and popular discourses over the identity of both self and "other" reflected ongoing and profound changes domestically and externally. In Britain the very definition of "British" itself was emerging from both internal developments and external wars in Europe and the rest of the world. Controversy raged as to who among the British-born would be included as British or not (e.g., English Catholics or Dissenters, Jews, and the Irish). Only Anglicans had access to certain state offices and social supports, yet converts counted. Further, as Kathleen Wilson explains, "'Race,' . . . like gender and ethnicity, was a historically contingent construction that did not describe empirical, static or absolute conditions in societies, but positional relationships made and unmade in historical circumstances and manipulated in the pursuit of power. . . . [Race] was identified and signified through religion, custom, language, climate, aesthetics and historical time, as much as physiognomy and biology." Immigrants to Britain could adapt themselves to British norms in many of these categories, thus renegotiating their race. These included men and women of all classes from India coming to England since the early seventeenth century (about as long as Britons have been sailing to India).
The relatively rapid and huge British military conquests in South Asia from the mid-eighteenth century onward required Britons abroad and at home to work out...
The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rocks the world, And it waves above each infant head a Union Jack unfurled.
When historians speak of exceptionalism, it is the history and the historiography of the United States that comes most immediately to mind. The notion of American exceptionalism has certainly dominated historical thinking, but its preeminence should not blind us to a parallel tradition within the spectrum of British ideas and rhetoric. Britain also espoused a strong doctrine of exceptionalism, which, like that of the United States, was most boldly and widely expressed at the zenith of Britain's power and authority. Exceptionalism, in short, and as Robert Gregg has persuasively argued, was an "imperial formulation" premised on exclusion and elision. A celebration of Britain's allegedly unique skills in colonizing vast tracts of the globe, swaddled in the discourse of civilization and progress, justified imperial conquest and rule just as American exceptionalism vindicated the slaughter of native Americans and the appropriation of their lands, especially at the height of westward expansion. In tandem with its powerful validation of empire building, exceptionalism also strengthened the idea of national particularity, with its emphasis on the positioning of one nation as especially endowed or destined for greatness and for rightful power. In the case of modern Britain that power was the sway over colonized peoples and countries, stressing the moral and civilizational gap between ruler and ruled.
Central and fundamental to British exceptionalism in the age of empire was the construction of gendered ideas about manliness and femininity. This focus on gender explained, justified, and sustained not only the distinctions assiduously drawn by the British between their own culture and that of other peoples but also the need and rationale for colonial rule. British rule was justified by the proper masculinity displayed by colonizing men. It was through their attitudes to and treatment of women that other cultures could be measured and judged. Gender itself—masculinity, femininity—was hedged by this imperial exceptionalism, a comparative strategy adopted by both men and women. Women activists, as I show in due course, used the alleged degradation of women in "lesser" societies to advance their own claims to a greater stake in public activities, while many a male writer measured progress toward civilization specifically in terms of the treatment of women by men.
This balance sheet of gender appropriateness not only served to put distance between exceptional Britain and its lesser colonies in need of enlightenment, but it also defined the nation itself as exceptional. "All nations," as Anne McClintock has argued, "depend on powerful constructions of gender." For the British, gender considerations could both define the nation positively and justify imperial intervention. The entitlement endowed by exceptionalism was linked, too, to the idea of inevitability, of a teleological historical path. The belief in a predestined order (in American terms, encapsulated in the idea of "manifest destiny") could justify imperial conquest and likewise fixed gender roles; both were part of the greater unfolding of history in which men and women played apparently complementary roles.
Colonized men found themselves variously labeled, some (the best allegedly) as warriorlike. The less desirable were described as feminized effetes, or oversexed and uncontrollable savages, while British men stood above or outside of gender, manly in detached ways that naturalized their superior grace. To be gendered was thus to be removed from rule and power; it was itself a mark of subjection shared by women and by colonized men. Neutrality and objectivity were signifiers, in a sense, of a white masculinity that rose above measurement and assessment. While women and the colonized were held back by, defined by, and marked indelibly by their racial and gendered characteristics, such signifiers were irrelevant in the lives of those who ruled and who saw themselves as fit for, and entitled to, rule. For one should never forget that exceptionalism was, and remains, an expression of entitlement.
Such sentiments were well established by the eighteenth century, developed enthusiastically by the major figures of the Enlightenment. Writing in 1777, William Robertson declared that "to despise and to degrade the female sex, is the characteristic of the...
This special section of Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East seeks to compare the Ottoman and British empires in the long nineteenth century. This would appear at first glance an arbitrary, even futile, enterprise. The two empires are thought to have had little in common. A historiographical consensus of long standing has stressed their differences. The British Empire was seaborne, the Ottoman Empire land based. The British Empire was sustained by industrial capitalism, the Ottoman Empire by agrarian tribute. The British Empire was the projection of a modern nation-state, the Ottoman Empire the survival of an archaic autocratic system of rule. The British Empire was expanding, the Ottoman Empire contracting. Nothing encapsulates the contrast between the two empires more strikingly than the telling tags they acquired in the nineteenth century. The "sun never set" on a hegemonic British Empire that stretched across the globe in predatory triumph, while the Ottoman Empire was a "sick man" suffering repeated retrenchment, its demise seemingly imminent.
Whatever merits these distinctions may possess, they should not prevent us from placing the two empires within the same historical and analytical space, acknowledging their commensurability. We should not lose sight of the fact that the British and Ottoman empires arose at much the same time, that they colluded and collided repeatedly over the succeeding centuries, and that the British Empire outlasted the Ottoman Empire by just a few decades. More particularly, we give far too little notice to the connections and correspondences between the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and its neighbor to the east, the British Raj. How meaningful is the distinction between a British seaborne and an Ottoman land-based empire in this context? In 1800 the Ottoman Empire consisted of over 3 million square kilometers of territory inhabited by a population of approximately 25–32 million people. By 1914 its territory had shrunk to 1.3 million kilometers, though the population still stood at 26 million. By way of comparison, the Indian territories that came under direct British rule in 1859 numbered 2.5 million square kilometers and 145 million people, while the princely states that acknowledged British suzerainty comprised another 1.5 million square kilometers and 48 million people. The British, in short, had a larger land empire in South Asia than the Ottoman Empire could claim in its entirety. How different were the challenges of ruling such an empire and the one the Ottomans oversaw?
Historians have long drawn fruitful comparisons between the early modern Ottoman Empire and Britain's predecessor in South Asia, the Mogul Empire, identifying similarities in modes of rule, ideas of sovereignty, strategies of coercion, and networks of trade and scholarship. While the British brought their own distinctive values and interests to India, they confronted the same panoply of social and economic conditions that the Moguls shared in so many respects with the Ottomans. To what extent did these conditions constrain or modify British policies? How far were they obliged to adopt the institutions they had inherited from the Moguls? How was their effort to manage and modernize India's multiethnic society different from the corresponding initiatives of the Ottomans? Both empires ruled vast territories that were inhabited by peoples of widely different faiths, customs, ethnicities, and more; both made accommodations to these differences even as they sought to erase them; both advanced a universalizing mission while acknowledging its limits; both asserted authoritarian powers and conceded local autonomy. With respect to these and other issues, there is much to be gained from placing the British and Ottoman empires in comparative perspective. The intent of this issue is in a sense to "de-orientalize" the Ottomans and "orientalize" the British in the hope of restoring continuities and connections between the history of the Ottoman Empire and the British Raj.
The model of British and Ottoman difference that so many historians and other scholars have so uncritically accepted relies implicitly on the conviction that the two empires inhabited what were for all intents and purposes quite different realms of temporality. This conviction has its origins in European efforts in the nineteenth century and before to contrast themselves with "Oriental despotisms," presenting their own states and societies...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 26.2 (2006) 331-332
The foreword of this volume, by Emmanuel N. Obiechina, is particularly helpful inasmuch as it provides the neophyte with the necessary background to understand Nigerian history from its independence on 1 October 1960, through its civil war of July 1967, to January 1970, when Biafra returned to Nigeria. The reader is reminded that this was the "bloodiest war of the twentieth century" (with 1–3 million deaths, mostly from famine) and that the British and American governments intervened to "prevent supplies of food and medicine from reaching the starving children of rebel Biafra" (xi).
In Broken Lives and Other Stories, Anthonia C. Kalu, professor of black studies at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley, offers ten short stories on this crucial moment of history. The fifth story, "Broken Lives," seems to hold a symbolic and central position in the collection: it is situated at the pivotal and ironic moment when the civil war in Nigeria is finally finished; this is a moment that could elicit a certain cheer and, yet, lives continue to be broken: men continue to be shot and women continue to be raped by the so-called soldiers of "peace." As the author states in her preface, "A war never provides the means to end war," and thus the central story of Broken Lives points to the human cost that remains at the center of wars won or lost.
Because the author chose to follow the chronological order of historical events, the first four stories prepare the materialization of the fifth story. These relate the final moments of colonization, the end of a world, and the war ("Independence," "The Last Push," "Angelus," and "Camwood"). In the next story, "Broken Lives," the course of history is changing, but lives continue to be destroyed. The following stories depict the aftermath of the war ("Children's Day" and "Ogbanje's Father"), the birth of humanitarian organizations such as Médecins sans frontières ("Relief Duty"), and the efforts made by women in particular to resume purification rituals to cure the wounds ("Osondu"). The last story, "The Gift," gives more profound meaning and depth to the title of the fifth story ("Broken Lives"), since it represents an ode to the Motherland, to its vernacular language, to the narrator as a young girl whose name, Onyinye, means gift. The message of optimism of this last tale is inscribed in the vernacular language—Ekene dili chukwu (The young shall grow)—and thus linguistically reclaims indigenous rights and entitlements. Optimistically, the last words of this last story are "peace and plenty."
Retrospectively, one can see how Anthonia C. Kalu constructed her collection of stories around the theme of deconstruction (broken lives) and of reconstruction (the gift). Each story therefore represents a piece of an entire mosaic, and each must be read as part of a continuum within a wider picture. The author respects all the rules of the short-story genre: the stories are kept brief (twenty pages at the most), elliptical, suggestive, and emblematic. However, because the ten stories represent a whole, the sense of progression from the first story to the last guarantees the unity of the collection and gives it an epic proportion. Kalu thus reasserts that one of the ultimate functions of these stories is to serve as testimony and memory.
One of the most striking aspects of the preface to Broken Lives and Other Stories is the radical involvement of the author as a woman and daughter of the same land that she attempts to seize in her short stories. The autobiographical information in the preface is particularly welcome, for it exhibits the biographical and genealogical link between storytelling, the author, and the land:
hanks to the pioneering studies of Paul Pelliot, Edwin Pulleyblank, Albert Dien, and Edward Schafer, it has been known for some time that Central Asian people and particularly the Sogdians played a prominent economic, social, and political role in China during the periods of the Northern Dynasties, the Sui and the early Tang. The work of these Sinologists based on Chinese literary records was gradually supplemented by Iranologists who deciphered Sogdian texts discovered in the Chinese territory, mostly in the Dunhuang cave and in various cult places in and near Turfan. These texts that form the bulk of the known Sogdian literature are mostly religious in their contents. Only a handful can be ascribed to the so-called Sogdian native religion, a form of Zoroastrianism, and in most cases this attribution is disputed. The majority of the Sogdian texts are Buddhist, translated not from the Indian original but from Chinese versions. Then come the Nestorian Christian texts. There are also a substantial number of Manichaean texts that were elucidated mainly by Walter Bruno Henning and Werner Sundermann and contributed greatly to the knowledge of this religion as a whole.
Since the 1960s progress in Sogdian studies has come mostly from Sogdiana itself, today in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with the publication of the political and administrative archives of the king of Panjikent found on Mount Mugh and dating from the period of the Arab conquest, and, more spectacularly, a very large number of mural paintings from four sites: Panjkent; Samarkand; Varakhsha, near Bukhara; and Shahristan. This resulted in a rather unbalanced picture, which lasted until a few years ago: the religious literature of the Sogdians came only from China, their archaeological records almost only from Sogdiana. Seen from China, the Sogdians appeared mostly as adherents and transmitters of the three great "salvation religions" of the time—Buddhism, Christianity, and Manichaeism—while in their homeland their art and religious buildings appeared fairly Iranian and conservatively Zoroastrian.
In the 1990s a new turn was taken when funerary reliefs of Sogdian merchants buried in China appeared both on the antique market and in regular excavations. Six tombs safely attributable to Sogdians are now known, plus two others from Gansu, which are thematically related to the Sogdian tombs but might have belonged to representatives of other Central Asian peoples. All date from the last third of the sixth century. Three of the tomb owners are identified by funerary inscriptions that give them the title sabao, a Chinese administrative function designating the leader of a community of Western migrants and derived from the Sogdian word sârtpâw (caravan leader). In most tombs a majority of the panels illustrate the social activities of the deceased, in a rather conventional way. Trade is very discretely alluded to, with one exception, the tomb of Wirkak, which will be examined in detail in this article. The focus is always toward the aristocratic way of life, expressed by hunting and banqueting, in any possible contact situation: with fellow Sogdians, with other Central Asian peoples, with Northern Indians (Gandharis or Kashmiris), and with Turks. At the same time the wife is always shown dressed as a Chinese lady, sharing a Chinese pavilion with her husband.
This kind of double Sogdian/Chinese social identity found its most extreme expression on the reliefs in a private collection, temporarily displayed in 2004–5 at the Guimet Museum in Paris (fig. 1). On one panel the deceased is shown in a Chinese park; his dignified stance derives from that of the bodhisattvas in the art of the Wei period. He is accompanied by Chinese symbols such as the crane, symbol of longevity, and the couple of ducks, symbol of marital happiness, and in fact the next panel shows his wife dressed in Chinese attire in a similarly Chinese setting. But on the following panel the deceased, recognizable from his beard and topknot, is drinking from a rhyton, an Iranian and Central Asian utensil, and he drinks heavily as he is about to fall. The attendants below are also drunk, while the lion lapping from a vase derives from Dionysiac motives in the Greco-Roman art...
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 25.3 (2005) 522-532
In the months since Edward Said’s death, many of us have reflected on his legacy, which traverses a formidable spectrum of disciplines. Yet, while the fact is often overshadowed by his interventions in politics and history, Said was first and foremost a literary critic. He was trained in comparative literature at Harvard, where he was well steeped in the German philological tradition; his dissertation and first book were a study of Joseph Conrad; and a bedrock of Western literary texts—by Conrad, Jonathan Swift, Jane Austen, Gustave Flaubert, and Gérard de Nerval, for example—remained constant points de repères throughout his intellectual life. In this essay, therefore, I wish to focus on both the revolution that Said’s work initiated in literary studies and the ways in which his training in comparative literature inflected his politics: that is, to examine what his politics did to literary study and what his literary training brought to history and politics. I also want to develop a critique of Said’s categorical denunciation of what he termed “textuality” and suggest that in his fervor to stave off the hermetic and disembedded form of criticism practiced by certain deconstructive critics, he dispensed with aspects of their work—particularly their theories of linguistic indeterminacy and misreading—that are vital to carrying out his own theoretical project. To make this argument, I elaborate the notions of belonging and distance that Said employs to describe his own critical endeavor and to further theorize his depiction of the critic as foreigner. Ultimately, I contend that Said’s resistance to engaging linguistic indeterminacy—or what I am calling the “foreignness in language”—is an attempt to forge a risk-free ethics. In the final section of this essay, I argue against this sort of risk management in language and representation, contending that it is both a fantasy of mastery that, in significant ways, mimes imperial practice and a refusal of social responsibility.
In order to sketch Said’s vocation as a literary critic, I concentrate on one of his somewhat less frequently discussed books, The World, the Text, and the Critic, which won the René Wellek prize of the American Comparative Literature Association in 1983 and in which Said articulated his position within contemporary literary criticism. That position insisted, above all, on the worldliness of texts and argued for a politics of interference—between disciplines, cultures, and histories. If, for some literary critics, Said’s tactics were merely an unseemly practice of dragging ruffians such as history and politics into the polite drawing room of literature—where they left unpleasant and disturbing mud stains on the fine carpet of aesthetics—for Said, those tactics were a politically crucial resituation of literary texts within the historical and material contexts of their production and reception. The essays in The World, the Text, and the Critic were written, significantly, at the same time that Said was working on Orientalism, The Question of Palestine, and Covering Islam (published in 1978, 1979, and 1981, respectively), all of which, albeit in differing ways, elaborate on the arguments about literary studies staked out in The World, the Text, and the Critic.
This period of writing, by Said’s own testimony, marked for him a significant intellectual departure. He had kept apart until that time his role as literature professor and his connection to Palestine, discreetly segregating the two into quarantined domains of the “professional” and the “personal.” But “when the Six Day War broke out,” he said in an interview with Tariq Ali, “[I] was completely shattered. The world as I had understood it ended at that moment…. By 1970, I was completely immersed in politics and the Palestinian resistance movement”—and, one might add, in writing the four books just mentioned. It was at this time that Said undertook intensive reading about the Middle East and began to recognize, with alarm, the systematic distortions and misrepresentations in what he read. And it was this recognition that crystallized...
The linkage of gender and empire is not self-evident. While gender has become an increasingly important category in contemporary historiography on the Middle East, studies have tended to concentrate (with notable exceptions) on females in context, rather than on males and masculinities. The analysis of the Ottomans as an empire has directed scholarship on that space and that polity into certain rather narrowly defined channels. Scholarship for the long nineteenth century has focused on issues of reform, Western hegemony, and nationalism. Gender per se is not a primary category. Empire is; although imperialism, perhaps, at least of the Ottoman sort, is not. In other words, the Ottoman Empire as an object of European imperialism has received greater emphasis in the scholarship than has the Ottoman Empire as (redefined) imperial subject. This essay, instead, looks to the Ottoman subject and its imperial center, Istanbul, to examine the conjunctures of gender and empire as projected in the Ottoman-language cartoon press of 1908–14. That press can be seen as reflecting an idea of "Ottoman exceptionalism," which was characteristic of a certain era, cast in gendered terms, placed in dialogic opposition to European imperialism, and advanced in an effort both to preserve and refashion the empire. Ottoman exceptionalism, like British exceptionalism, presumed a superiority rooted in imperial glory and in proper (particularly female) morality.
Gender may mean the differentiation, characterization, and contextualization of the male and the female in any given time, place, social setting, or literature. Gender can be defined as "sex," as my Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary would have it. Or one may presume the categories that same dictionary employs for gendered language: "A subclass within a grammatical class . . . of a language that is partly arbitrary but also partly based on distinguishable characteristics (as shape, social rank, manner of existence, or sex) and that determines agreement with and selection of other words or grammatical forms." This latter definition, although grammatical in intent, proves useful for the analysis that follows here. It suggests the notion of gender as a set of partially evolving distinctions embedded in language and comprehensible only with reference to surrounding "texts."
"Empire" too is construed in words (and images) as well as territories. The Ottoman entity, in the long nineteenth century, is surely "a major political unit having a territory of great extent or a number of territories or peoples under a single sovereign authority." But it is also a concept, one that has been the subject of determined, imaginative, and multifaceted debate. As the various studies in this issue of the journal suggest, the Ottoman Empire as a construct of imperial power is one that historians still feel more comfortable comparing to British India (the imperial colony) rather than to Britain itself (the imperial center). The Ottomans' own sense of imperial "self," as I demonstrate, at least in the cartoon space allows for both types of comparison.
Much discussion of the transformations in the Ottoman Empire, gendered and otherwise, has focused on the middle parts of the long nineteenth century, in particular on the Tanzimat (the legal and structural reordering of 1839–76). But I am going to propose here a "new empire period," beginning in 1876, when the constitutionalists brought Sultan Abdülhamid II (r. 1876–1909) to power, and ending in 1914 when the Ottomans entered World War I. I choose this periodization for a number of reasons. First, this period is characterized by a set of newly fashioned visions of the empire and of gender. Second, the emphasis on the Tanzimat period has focused too strongly on government legal reforms aimed at articulating the position of non-Muslim citizens of the Muslim state, placating the European powers that threatened Ottoman territorial integrity, and advancing rhetorics of Ottoman unity (or Ottomanism) in order to strengthen and legitimize the power of the central government. That focus suggests that the real transformation of the empire was launched and "done" by 1876. Finally, the World War I years, during which the economy, government, and populace of the empire were overwhelmed by the war effort, may be viewed as a unique period, one in which the decks were literally and figuratively cleared...