Global Middle East

Featured Interviews

Thinking Global in Turkey: An Interview with Trustee Selçuk Esenbel
Interviews | May 30, 2019

Thinking Global in Turkey: An Interview with Trustee Selçuk Esenbel

Prof. Selçuk Esenbel is one of the trustees of the Toynbee Prize Foundation and a leading historian in Turkey. Prof. Esenbel has contributed greatly to the development of global history in Turkey, specifically in relation to Japanese and wider Eurasian history. We sat down with Esenbel in Istanbul to talk about the state of global history in Turkey today and her recent book, Japan on the Silk Road: Encounters and Perspectives of Politics and Culture in Eurasia (Brill's Japanese Studies Library, 2017).

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From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo
Interviews | April 24, 2019

From Istanbul to Tokyo: An Interview with Eric Tagliacozzo

In examining the annual movement of pilgrims from the opposite ends of the Indian Ocean, Prof. Eric Tagliacozzo taps in to a process that has been taking place for more than five hundred years: first by sail, then by steam, then by air. Connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East do not center solely on Islam. They are part of a far more complex network of trade, movement, and cross-cultural exchange. These connections between Southeast Asia and the Middle East are part of a far wider set of connections between peoples along the entire Indian Ocean littoral from eastern Africa to the South China Sea. We talked with Tagliacozzo about his previous works and his contributions to scholarship on the Indian Ocean world as well as transnational and global history. We spoke about his days as a 22-year old college student interviewing spice traders from Japan to East Africa. Our discussion ranged from illicit trade in rhinoceros horns to itinerant peoples' methods of resistance to colonial rule. And we discussed how, often, those two things were one-and-the-same.

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A Genealogy of a Non-Event: An Interview with Seth Anziska
Interviews | March 14, 2019

A Genealogy of a Non-Event: An Interview with Seth Anziska

Seth Anziska discusses a range of issues, from the current Israeli political climate and the future of the Palestinian national movement, to the methodological challenges confronting historians of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the stakes of writing history that is informed by personal experience.

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Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Nation State in Afghanistan: An Interview with Faiz Ahmed
Interviews | December 5, 2018

Islam, Constitutionalism, and the Nation State in Afghanistan: An Interview with Faiz Ahmed

In his book, Afghanistan Rising: Islamic Law and Statecraft between the Ottoman and British Empires, Faiz Ahmed, Associate Professor of History at Brown University, tells a story of a modern Islamic project of statecraft and legal synthesis, undertaken against a background of broader regional connections. The early legal history of Afghanistan is an account of an Islamic politics that did not, as in contemporary cases, grasp for imported European legal codes. Nor did it constitute a case of Salafi or "Wahhabi" ideologies of Islamic reform. Rather, King Amanullah's project emerged out of a rich history of what Ahmed calls "interislamic" cultural exchange and modern visions of politics, including a unique adaptation and application of the shariʿa to the form of the modern nation-state.

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Guns, Spies and Empire, Or, Why Good People Do Bad Things: An Interview with Priya Satia
Interviews | April 23, 2018

Guns, Spies and Empire, Or, Why Good People Do Bad Things: An Interview with Priya Satia

Priya Satia argues that the making of Britain's "covert empire" was bound up in intelligence-gathering tactics pioneered by British agents in the Middle East (Arabia and Iraq, specifically). The ultimate tool of covert empire—aerial surveillance—came to be used far beyond the Middle East; but, Satia argues, its initial deployment there resulted from the marriage of a cultural epistemology peculiar to British agents in Arabia with the emergence of mass democracy, and a new suspicion of empire, in Britain itself.

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When the Ottoman Empire Scrambled for Africa: An Interview With Mostafa Minawi
Interviews | March 14, 2018

When the Ottoman Empire Scrambled for Africa: An Interview With Mostafa Minawi

Taking the Ottoman Empire out of the Middle East area studies prison to which it's so often confined, Mostafa Minawi has traced, in detail, many of the long-missed connections between the Sublime Porte – the center of Ottoman governance – and sub-Saharan Africa. More specifically, his research has demonstrated how those links played into the Ottoman Empire's participation in the late nineteenth century "scramble" for territory by European empires on the African continent – an episode in which, Minawi argues, the empire played a much more active role than has previously been assumed.

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The 1970s in Arab-American Perspective: An Interview with Salim Yaqub
Interviews | November 9, 2017

The 1970s in Arab-American Perspective: An Interview with Salim Yaqub

Salim Yaqub's most recent book, Imperfect Strangers: Americans, Arabs, and U.S.–Middle East Relations in the 1970s (Cornell University Press, 2016), examines social and political dimensions of the Arab-US relationship during the 1970s, allowing us to understand the perceptions of two groups toward each other. It also sheds light on how the position of Arab-Americans changed according to the developing political situation in the 1970s focusing, for example, on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The book stresses the need for a global perspective in understanding the roots of contemporary debates on U.S-Middle East politics.

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Of Prostitution and Port Cities: A Conversation with Liat Kozma
Interviews | July 31, 2017

Of Prostitution and Port Cities: A Conversation with Liat Kozma

Exploring prostitution through the regional lens of the Mediterranean—rather than through a political lens like that of a single nation or empire—Kozma innovatively dissects the many layers of state-regulated prostitution and the involvement of global and local institutions. From Casablanca to Beirut, Alexandria to Haifa, people, practices, germs, and attitudes toward prostitution and sexual practices migrated and spread during the interwar period.

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Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the "Muslim World" in History
Interviews | October 12, 2016

Anti-Westernism in Question: An Interview with Cemil Aydin on Pan-Asianism, Pan-Islamism, and the Idea of the "Muslim World" in History

Non-Muslim communities and other religions have historically been disenchanted with European colonization and its claims that the white race and Christianity were somehow superior. This disenchantment makes us question whether anti-Westernism is a derivative of anti-colonial critiques or whether it represents a distinctively religious reaction to modernity. Such wider analysis is crucial in order to understand why anti-Western ideas persist in current times. Ottoman pan-Islamism and Japanese pan-Asianism play a vital role in deciphering the influence of anti-Western ideas on global history. Both Ottoman Turkey and Japan struggled with the ideas about Western "the standards of civilization" around the same time. Do the events and ideological currents in these two empires help us understand anti-Westernisms today?

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Featured Blog Posts

What We're Reading This Week
The Blog | March 5, 2020

What We're Reading This Week

The flags of Zanzibar and Kenya were added this afternoon to the 111 flags already flying in front of the United Nations Headquarters in New York. 16 December 1963. Photo credit:
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