Description : The concept of the 'dangerous classes' was born in a rapidly urbanizing and industrializing nineteenth century Europe. It described all those who had fallen out of the working classes into the lower depths of the new societies, surviving by their wits or various amoral, disreputable or criminal strategies. This included beggars and vagrants, swindlers, pickpockets and burglars, prostitutes and pimps, ex-soldiers, ex-prisoners, tricksters, drug-dealers, the unemployed or unemployable, indeed every type of the criminal and marginal. This book examines the 'dangerous classes' in the Middle East and North Africa, their lives and the strategies they used to avoid, evade, cheat, placate or, occasionally, resist, the authorities. Chapters cover the narratives of their lives; their relationship with 'respectable' society; their political inclinations and their role in shaping systems and institutions of discipline and control and their representation in literature and in popular culture. The book demonstrates the liminality of the 'dangerous classes' and their capacity for re-invention. It also indicates the sharpening relevance of the concept to a Middle East and North Africa now in the grip of an almost permanent sense of crisis, its younger generations crippled by a pervasive sense of hopelessness, prone to petty crime and vulnerable to induction as foot soldiers into drug and people smuggling, petty gangsterism and jihadism.
Description : Yezidism is a fascinating part of the rich cultural mosaic of the Middle East. Yezidis emerged for the first time in the 12th century in the Kurdish mountains of northern Iraq. Their religion, which has become notorious for its associations with "devil worship," is in fact an intricate syncretic system of belief, incorporating elements from proto-Indo-European religions, early Persian faiths like Zoroastrianism and Manichaeism, Sufism and regional paganism like Mithraism. Birgul Acikyildiz offers a comprehensive appraisal of Yezidi religion, society and culture. Written without presupposing any prior knowledge about Yezidism, and in an accessible and readable style, her book examines Yezidis not only from a religious point of view but as a historical and social phenomenon. She throws light on the origins of Yezidism, and charts its historical development -- from its beginnings to the present -- as part of the general history of the Kurds. The author describes the Yezidi belief system (which considers Melek Taus -- the "Peacock Angel" -- to be ruler of the earth) and its religious practices and observances, analyzing the most important facets of Yezidi religious art and architecture and their relationship to their neighbours throughout the Middle East. Richly illustrated, with accompanying maps, photographs and illustrations, the book will have strong appeal to all those with an interest in the culture of the Kurds, as well as the wider region.
Description : Until now, we have known very little of the lives of ordinary Middle Eastern men and women, despite extensive research on the modern Middle East. With this collection of essays, the life stories of peasants, villagers, pastoralists, and urbanites can finally be heard—no more will our view of the Middle East be seen only over the shoulders of the elite. These twenty-four biographies are drawn from the entire Middle East—from Morocco to Afghanistan—and provide vantage points from which to understand modern Middle Eastern history "from the bottom up." Spanning the past 150 years and reflecting important transformations, the stories challenge elite-centered accounts of what has occurred in the Middle East and illuminate hidden corners of a largely unrecorded world. The essays, divided chronologically, provide a comprehensive framework for those unfamiliar with Middle Eastern social history. "Pre-Colonial Lives" covers the period from 1850 until World War I, "Colonial Lives" chronicles the beginning of European rule, and "Contemporary Lives" relates the massive changes of the postwar era. Through them, we see how specific ecologies, ways of life, ethnic, class and gender situations can shape individual human action.
Description : In Turkey, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, central governments historically pursued mono-nationalist ideologies and repressed Kurdish identity. As evidenced by much unrest and a great many Kurdish revolts in all these states since the 1920s, however, the Kurds manifested strong resistance towards ethnic chauvinism. What sorts of authoritarian state policies have Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria relied on to contain the Kurds over the years? Can meaningful democratization and liberalization in any of these states occur without a fundamental change vis-à-vis their Kurdish minorities? To what extent does the Kurdish issue function as both a barrier and key to democratization in four of the most important states of the Middle East? While many commentators on the Middle East stress the importance of resolving the Arab-Israeli dispute for achieving 'peace in the Middle East,' this book asks whether or not the often overlooked Kurdish issue may constitute a more important fulcrum for change in the region, especially in light of the 'Arab Spring' and recent changes in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria.
Description : The first Americans to work with the people of the Middle East were neither spies nor soldiers. They were, in fact, teachers, printers, and missionaries; and one was a country doctor from Utica, NY. In June of 1835 Asahel Grant, M.D. and his bride, Judith, sailed from Boston to heal the sick and save the world. Fever and Thirst tells the story of Asahel Grant: explorer, physician, author and the first American to become enmeshed in the struggles of northern Iraq.
Description : Based in Iraq, Syria and Turkey, the Yezidi people claim their religion - a unique combination of Christian, Islamic, and historical faiths - to be the oldest in the world. Yezidi identity centres on their religion, Sharfadin, which has evolved into a highly complex pantheon of one God with many incarnations, the chief of whom is Melek Taus, the Peacock Angel. The Yezidi faith can be traced to a range of pre-Islamic belief systems, such as Sufism, some extreme Shi'ite sects, Gnosticism and other traditions surviving from the ancient world. This particular formulation has served to unify Yezidi religious identity and ethnicity. Based on extensive fieldwork, 'The Religion of the Peacock Angel' presents the first detailed examination of the Yezidi pantheon. The idea of one God and his chief incarnations is first analysed, then the various 'deity figures,' saints, holy patrons and divinized personalities in the Yezidi belief system are considered in the context of related religious traditions. The study determines the place of all these characters in the system of the Yezidi faith, defining their main functions, features, and genealogies.
Description : A history of the tribal people traces Kurdish nationalism from the collapse of Kurdish emirates in the nineteenth century to the present day, examining how tribal politics, an educated class, and conflicts with Iran, Turkey, and Iraq render Kurdish unitye