Archive | Review

  • Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Islam

      Elyse Semerdjian.  Off the Straight Path: Illicit Sex, Law, and Community in Ottoman Aleppo.  Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008.  xxxviii + 247 pp.  $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8156-3173-6. The content of Off the Straight Path is less juicy than its title suggests.  The reader with an appetite for stories of sexual scandals and dangerous liaisons […]

  • Post-Feminism and Its Discontents

      Angela McRobbie, The Aftermath of Feminism: Gender, Culture and Social Change, Sage Publications, 2009, 192 pp., $37.75 (paperback). In a 2004 essay titled “Feminism and Femininity: Or How We Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Thong,” self-proclaimed third-wave feminists Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards offer their analysis of the state of contemporary feminism. […]

  • Emir Sader: The Post-Neoliberal Challenge

      With the passing of a year and the coming of another, it’s time to look at the balance sheet and define the prospects.  Who can help us do so better than Brazilian sociologist and political scientist Emir Sader, one of the best-known critical thinkers in our America today? Sader is currently executive secretary of […]

  • Questioning Capitalist Realism: An Interview with Mark Fisher

      Mark Fisher is the author of Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? out recently from Zer0 Books.  As a blogger he writes K-Punk.  Capitalist Realism is one of the most acute diagnoses of contemporary politics as it is played out in one small island off the coast of Europe.  After skewering the marketisation of […]

  • Manchester: Back to No Future

      Manchester: Looking for the Light through the Pouring Rain, by Kevin Cummins, is a book of photographs of Manchester’s music scene over the last thirty years, with weighty prose by the likes of Paul Morley and Stuart Maconie, participants and witnesses all.  It was published in autumn 2009 in London by Faber. The photos […]

  • The Crisis of Identity in the Postcolonial State

      Farzana Shaikh.  Making Sense of Pakistan.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.  ix + 274 pp.  $24.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-14962-4. Farzana Shaikh offers a scholarly and erudite study of the competition to define and establish a “national” identity for Pakistan.  The author argues that contested visions of the religious nature of the postcolonial state […]

  • The Idea of Iran

      Michael Axworthy.  A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind.  New York: Basic Books, 2008.  352 pp.  $27.50 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-465-00888-9. After the Islamic Revolution of 1979, a large number of Iranians joined the ranks of expatriates living in Europe and the United States.  Suddenly uprooted and finding themselves in unfamiliar surroundings, some of […]

  • Memories, Nightmares, and Hopes

      Eric Davis.  Memories of State: Politics, History, and Collective Identity in Modern Iraq.  Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005.  397 pp.  $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-520-23546-5. This review has been a long time coming, but during this time, Davis’s book has become the subject of extensive comment, achieving an almost iconic, certainly landmark, status in […]

  • Pan-Arabism and After: The Evolution of a Playwright

      Dina A. Amin.  Alfred Farag and Egyptian Theater: The Poetics of Disguise, With Four Short Plays and a Monologue.  Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 2008. xxx + 321 pp. $34.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8156-3163-7. This urgently needed book is an investigation of Egyptian theatre through the works of the preeminent Egyptian playwright Alfred Farag (1929-2005), during […]

  • The Armed Face of Neoliberalism

      Jasmin Hristov.  Blood and Capital: The Paramilitarization of Colombia.   Ohio University Research in International Studies Series.  Athens: Ohio University Press, 2009. xxiii + 263 pp. 28.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-89680-267-4. Jasmin Hristov’s book is an exploration of the history and evolution of armed paramilitary forces in Colombia, focusing primarily on the past two decades.  […]

  • Gaza in Suspension

      Ilana Feldman.  Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule, 1917-1967.  Durham: Duke University Press, 2008. xii + 324 pp. 84.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8223-4222-9; 23.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8223-4240-3. Governance at some level is collectively and discursively conducted in the sense that the whole of society has a share in the making of its […]

  • Gathering Rage Revisited

      In 1992, I was a thwarted, guilt-ridden and depressed revolutionary, living underground with my lesbian partner and two-year old daughter in St. Louis.  I was part of a tiny group that had gone underground at the beginning of the 1980s, responding to the collapse of the mass movements after the end of the Vietnam […]

  • Vernacular Politics in Africa

      1 The republication of Jean-François Bayart’s classic book-length essay, The State in Africa: The Politics of the Belly, is an opportunity to reflect on the hypotheses he raises and their application to Sudan and especially Darfur.  Bayart’s book mentions Sudan only in passing but the scope of his ambition is certainly relevant to Sudan […]

  • The Long Partition

      Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali Zamindar.  The Long Partition and the Making of Modern South Asia: Refugees, Boundaries, Histories.  New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.  xiv + 288 pp.  $50.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-13846-8; (cloth), ISBN 978-0-231-51101-8. Over the last couple decades, histories of the partition of India and its consequences have proliferated.  But Vazira Zamindar’s study stands […]

  • Haitian Narration

      Laurent Dubois.  Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution.  Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005.  384 pp. $29.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-674-01304-9; $20.00 (paper), ISBN 978-0-674-01826-6. Laurent Dubois’s Avengers of the New World builds on a body of Caribbean scholarship that has been torn between trying to place Haiti’s independence from France […]

  • Spinoza and the Claims of Modernity

      Travis L. Frampton.  Spinoza and the Rise of Historical Criticism of the Bible.  London: Continuum International Publishing Group, Limited, 2006.  262 pp.  $150.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-567-02593-7. Brayton Polka.  Between Philosophy and Religion, Vol. I: Spinoza, the Bible, and Modernity.  Lanham: Lexington Books, 2006.  276 pp.  $80.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7391-1601-2. Brayton Polka.  Between Philosophy and […]

  • Go East, Young Woman: The Khetagurovite Campaign in the Soviet Borderlands

      Elena Shulman.  Stalinism on the Frontier of Empire: Women and State Formation in the Soviet Far East.   Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.  xiv + 260 pp.  $99.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-521-89667-2. The frontier as a theme in the development of Russian history has proven a useful means of analyzing the expansion of the state. […]

  • Speaking Truth to Power: The Mythology of Imperialism

      When I decided to teach Joseph Conrad‘s Heart of Darkness at Berkeley High School, it had been out of favor as an appropriate text because it was considered too controversial.  I wanted to do a whole unit on Africa and the Congo, including African authors, journalism, and history, and I figured we could start […]

  • Barrels of Crude and the Price of Pollutants: Power, Environment, and the Petroleum Complex in America’s Energy Capital

      Martin V. Melosi, Joseph A. Pratt, eds.  Energy Metropolis: An Environmental History of Houston and the Gulf Coast.  Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007.  vii + 344 pp.  $27.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8229-5963-2; $60.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8229-4335-8. Much of the American past is connected to the growth of cities.  Throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth […]

  • Embedded with Organized Labor: An Interview with Steve Early

      Steve Early is a 25-year veteran of the labor movement, journalist, and author of the new book Embedded with Organized Labor (Monthly Review Press, 2009).  His is a voice for a more militant rank-and-file democratic form of trade unionism which attempts to challenge the bosses by re-energizing a mostly dormant labor movement. Kristin Schall: […]