Middle East - Topics & Arguments https://meta-journal.net/ <p><strong>META</strong>'s geographical focus is the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). The journal is concerned with the states of Northern Africa and West Asia.</p> Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies (CNMS) en-US Middle East - Topics & Arguments 2196-629X <p>Except where otherwise noted, all content on the META website and its metadata are licensed under <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/legalcode">Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License</a> (<a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/deed.en">human-readable summary</a>).</p> Infrastructuring Geographies: Histories and Presents in and of the Middle East and North Africa https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7794 <p>The 10<sup>th</sup> issue of Middle East – Topics and Arguments engages with infrastructure studies from an interdisciplinary perspective. It presents different empirical cases and theoretical discussions that take infrastructural formations and their effects both to the center stage and as the analytical focus. In this editorial, we first discuss two epistemic locations from which infrastructure can be studied. Then, we highlight the featured authors and the way each of them make compelling cases through the lenses of material and social infrastructures in different MENA contexts. In light of these, we argue that infrastructures, as the material conditions of modern human life, have shaped and continue to shape geographical constructs of the Middle East and North Africa. Lastly, we call for further social and historical research to investigate how infrastructural systems as material and symbolic networks of imperial expansion and exploitation have contributed to the geographical and political entities that make up the construct called <em>MENA</em>.</p> Amina Nolte Ezgican Özdemir ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 5 20 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7794 A Tramway Called Atonement: Genealogies of Infrastructure and Emerging Political Imaginaries in Contemporary Casablanca https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7590 <p>This article explores the role of infrastructure in the production of post-colonial political imaginaries linked to mobility and expectations of social justice. I focus on how the building of the Casablanca tramway opened up new ways for engaging in political commentary and participation for a segment of the city that frequently lacks the direct means for accessing power. In the process, the aim is to contribute a brief account of the historical genealogies behind such projects and argue for an understanding of infrastructure as a site for the production of future aspirations and political engagement for marginalized communities.</p> Cristiana Strava ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 22 29 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7590 The Violence of Infrastructural Connectivity: Jerusalem’s Light Rail as a Means of Normalisation https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7593 <p>It is commonly claimed that infrastructures are so banal and taken-for-granted that they only become visible when they collapse or cease to function. Indeed, the exclusion or disconnection of certain areas from infrastructural services has been termed ‘infrastructural violence’. In East Jerusalem, where infrastructure has long been underfunded and Palestinian Jerusalemites are excluded from access to many urban services, infrastructure also became apparent as a political question when it <em>appeared</em> in the form of a new light rail connection – and even more so when this ostensibly useful public service was attacked by residents.&nbsp; The violent disruption of the light rail, the piece argues, called attention to the manner in which Jerusalem’s light rail serves to normalise both Palestinian urban space and movements, thus feeding into an agenda of annexation. The expansion of infrastructural networks, and the resulting connectivity of previously marginalised areas, then, can also act as a form of violence rather than ‘atonement’ for past neglect.</p> Hanna Baumann ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 30 38 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7593 In/visible Infrastructure: Thinking (along) with Martin Heidegger about Infrastructural Breakdowns in South Africa https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7586 <p>In this paper I will argue against the idea that infrastructures are <em>normally invisible</em> and only become visible in certain moments. This notion is problematic because it is based on the idea that in the <em>Western</em> world things work smoothly and normally, while in the rest of the world breakdown is assumed to be a <em>normal</em> state of affairs and makes infrastructures visible. Rather, I will instead focus on the more individual, less visible–although not invisible–micro-modes of infrastructural breakdowns. The approach envisaged will be theoretically grounded by thinking (along) with the work of Martin Heidegger with particular regard to his widely interpreted § 16 of <em>Being and Time</em> on tools and “tool-being.” In this text, Heidegger outlines three existential modes of concern, namely <em>conspicuousness</em>, <em>obtrusiveness</em> and <em>obstinacy</em>, which will be helpful for understanding infrastructures as conflictual terrains as well as for thinking through people’s reconfigurations of aspirations in general. In other words, Heidegger describes three different modes of possible breakdowns that interrupt the course of everyday life in such a way that one is compelled to reflect upon one’s subjectivities and, equally important, upon the things themselves. The article will thus focus on how these in/visibilities are mobilized and situated within ethnographic accounts which I am drawing from readings and fieldwork experiences in South Africa.</p> Laurin Baumgardt ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 40 51 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7586 Infrastructures as the Social in Action: An Interview with Ronen Shamir https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7731 <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">In the following interview, Ronen Shamir discusses the theoretical and methodological implications of researching infrastructure against the background of his own work on electrification in Mandatory Palestine. He draws our attention to the (post-)colonial genealogies of infrastructure and their role in shaping not just the common perceptions of a region called “Middle East”, but also manufacturing/creating/producing/constructing this region by means material and social (dis-)connections. Throughout the interview, Shamir stresses on how infrastructural systems shape people’s everyday experiences with their physical surroundings. His emphasis points to the understanding of infrastructure as processes of assembling and disassembling people, everyday objects.</span></p> <p><span style="font-weight: 400;">We invited Ronen Shamir to this interview in order to put his work into a critical dialogue/exchange with the papers featured in this issue. As a prominent scholar of colonial infrastructure, we are convinced that his work and his insights point to issues that are discussed throughout this issue.</span></p> Ezgican Özdemir Amina Nolte ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 53 58 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7731 Beyond the Bounds of the State: Reinterpreting Cairo’s Infrastructures of Mobility https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7589 <p>Cairo is a city in flux, characterized by ceaseless intersections of residents who openly claim their rights to mobility beyond the city’s material infrastructure and political will. Egypt’s governing systems have, for many years, neglected to tackle urban inequality, particularly since the political turmoil of the January 2011 revolution. Against such a backdrop, this article seeks to understand how informal communities reinterpret structures of political division as expanded spaces of economic and cultural operation. It supports the notion that large segments of Cairo’s populace are in a constant negotiation between autonomy and integration. Compelled by physical and socioeconomic barriers, they carve out selfgovernance and develop structures which give them the freedom to work, socialize, and live in the public arena. This article proposes that Cairo’s local, or baladī streets, often neglected by the&nbsp;state and ill-serviced, offer their residents a spatial reservoir of possibilities, where elements of political subjugation often mask a highly mobile and connected social realm. This reading of informality infers that invisible infrastructures of networks and relationships open marginalized spaces to new productive exchanges and lived practices, where expressions of collective identity flourish.</p> Anna Rowell ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 60 70 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7589 Insurgent Infrastructure: Tunnels of the Gaza Strip https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7594 <p>This article explores the emergence of tunnels within the Gaza Strip. It argues that tunnels emerged as an implicit response to Israeli policies of separation and control, and the increasingly sophisticated means used to realize these ends during the peace process and thereafter. The latter included approaches that actively embraced a “politics of verticality,” incorporating a volume-based approach to Israeli geopolitical interests and designs. Tunnels would come to reify an insurgent impetus vis-à-vis Israeli ideological, political and military doctrines on the one hand, and the structured dependency and ineffectiveness of the Palestinian Authority on the other. Their emergence speaks to the organization and coagulation of many externalities generated by both dynamics, which effectively captured existent infrastructural assemblages toward colonial imperatives.</p> Toufic Haddad ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 71 85 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7594 Infrastructures of Urban Religious Management: Who Should Pay for the Utilities of Cemevis in Turkey? https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7588 <p>In Turkey, electricity and water expenses for houses of prayer, such as mosques and churches, are covered by the state. Cemevis, places of worship for Turkey’s marginalized religious minority of Alevis, however, cannot benefit from from this regulation. By analyzing the political negotiations between the Turkish state and Alevis about cemevis’ utility bills, this paper argues that unequal distribution of infrastructural funds becomes a means for governing religion in urban contexts. In so doing, I focus on a less studied dimension of infrastructures by examining how infrastructural governance is an arena both to reproduce and to contest hegemonic state religiosity.</p> Nazlı Özkan ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 86 94 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7588 “Even if the Sons of Rum are not like Him” The Spatial and Temporal Journey of a Late 19th Century Egyptian Song https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7587 <p>This paper follows the material and discursive circulation of the Egyptian popular song “Fī-l-Jihādiyya” as it traveled from the urban context to Upper Egypt throughout the 19<sup>th</sup> century. The song narrates the farewell of a mother to her son recruited to war, and her helpless attempt to save him. I explore how centuries-old local forms of mobility enacted by authors and performers intersected with the infrastructural changes in transportation under British colonization increasingly since the third quarter of the 19<sup>th</sup> century. Additionally, by reflecting on the <em>long durée</em> of the song’s circulation and performative replication, I investigate the continuities within the military social infrastructure throughout the century, and argue that the ongoing exploitation of Upper Egyptian soldiers helps explain the endurance of “Fī-l-Jihādiyya’s” social relevance. I thus provide a case for the study of material and social infrastructures as interrelated realms of analysis, specifically with respect to the different implications of the material and social mobilities that my analysis uncovers.</p> Olga Verlato ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 95 108 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7587 Ali Yacıoğlu: "Partners of the Empire: The Crisis of the Ottoman Order in the Age of Revolutions" https://meta-journal.net/article/view/7716 Burcin Cakir ##submission.copyrightStatement## http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0 2018-06-14 2018-06-14 10 109 112 10.17192/meta.2018.10.7716