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Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East
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Book description

The waves of protest ignited by the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi in Tunisia in late 2010 highlighted for an international audience the importance of contentious politics in the Middle East and North Africa. John Chalcraft's ground-breaking account of popular protest emphasizes the revolutionary modern history of the entire region. Challenging top-down views of Middle Eastern politics, he looks at how commoners, subjects and citizens have long mobilised in defiance of authorities. Chalcraft takes examples from a wide variety of protest movements from Morocco to Iran. He forges a new narrative of change over time, creating a truly comparative framework rooted in the dynamics of hegemonic contestation. Beginning with movements under the Ottomans, which challenged corruption and oppression under the banners of religion, justice, rights and custom, this book goes on to discuss the impact of constitutional movements, armed struggles, nationalism and independence, revolution and Islamism. A work of unprecedented range and depth, this volume will be welcomed by undergraduates and graduates studying protest in the region and beyond.


‘John Chalcraft is the Howard Zinn of Middle East studies … [This book] is essential for understanding how the region came to be so fraught in our own era.’

Juan Cole - University of Michigan

‘Unparalleled in both its ambitions and its achievements, this book provides … a brilliant synthetic reinterpretation of the role of popular politics …’

John Sidel - London School of Economics and Political Science

‘This book makes an outstanding contribution to the study of the recent history and politics of the Middle East.’

Charles Tripp - School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London

‘In its comparative and theoretical approach, this work is unmatched.’

Julia Clancy-Smith - University of Arizona

‘[This] insightful book shows how mass mobilization helped to shape state-formation and nation-building in the region over the past two centuries, creating the backdrop … for today’s tumultuous conflicts.’

Charles Kurzman - University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

‘John Chalcraft has written a masterpiece of bottom-up analysis and interpretation over two centuries of Middle Eastern longing, struggle, and change.’

Michael Provence - University of California, San Diego

'… an immensely important book, and it is likely to inspire vigorous and lively debate about how to understand politics in the Middle East for years to come.'

Aaron G. Jakes Source: Middle East Journal

'Although other scholars have studied the role of mass mobilization and street politics in the Middle East, the sheer breadth of this ambitious study sets it apart as an outstanding contribution to the understanding of political upheaval that has engulfed the region for more than a century. Analytically rich and theoretically informed, this book is a major contribution to the literature on Middle Eastern studies … Highly recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty.'

M. Dorraj Source: Choice

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  • I - Millenarianism, renewal, justice, rights and reform, 1798–1914
    pp 54-197


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