In I, The Divine (2001) and An Unnecessary Woman (2013), Arab American novelist Rabih Alameddine borrows lines, characters, themes, motifs and tropes from Macbeth and King Lear to portray the horrendous experiences his protagonists undergo during and after Lebanon’s fifteenyear civil war. In An Unnecessary Woman, traumatic memories of the war leave Aaliya Saleh reclusive and isolated, sharing a building with three other women whom she dubs ‘the three witches’; in I, The Divine, Sarah Nour El-Din, the youngest of three daughters of a Lebanese-American couple, feels alienated and displaced and eventually chooses self-imposed exile. Alameddine frames Aaliya’s and Sarah’s stories within narratives of chaos, anarchy and sweeping violence reminiscent of Macbeth and Lear. Reading Alameddine’s novels as appropriations of Shakespeare’s tragedies valorizes the novelist’s contrapuntal vision and demonstrates how Arab writers in diaspora, writing in English for an international readership, strategically draw on Western canonical texts to represent the experiences of Arab characters.
Alameddine’s Appropriation of Shakespeare’s Tragedies
Voice, audience, and the political in psychotherapeutic practices with refugees
This article explores the relationship between psychotherapeutic practices with people with refugee backgrounds and “the political”. The relationship between voice and audience in psychotherapeutic practices is explored; through such an analysis the relationship between psychotherapy, history, and the political is considered. The theoretical questions are approached through a case study, a Bosnian man with refugee background living in Finland and attending psychotherapy there who invited the anthropologist to attend his therapy sessions. The analysis of the single case is situated within long-term ethnographic research on the Bosnian diaspora. Situating the personal in historical and moral plots, as well as seeking larger audiences beyond the confines of the therapeutic relationship, is seen as crucial in producing therapeutic effects. Simultaneously, the case enables a theoretical discussion about the relationships between voice, audience, and the political.
The transnational construction of indigenous and human rights among Vietnam's Central Highlanders
In the context of the conflict-ridden relationship with the Vietnamese state and the growing transnational interference by their vociferous diaspora, this paper analyzes particular shifts in the framing of their rights. A notion of collective group rights that are by definition particularistic and exclusive has given way to individual rights (especially religious freedom) that are universal and inclusive. Simultaneously, a localized and communal emphasis has changed to a transnational one oriented toward international fora. Local interests and aspirations thus come to be framed as universal human rights that pertain to individuals, rather than local rights that pertain to collectives. In this light, recent attempts to theorize minority or indigenous rights appear to be ineffective and will probably be counter-productive.
Social, Political, and Shamanic Power in Siberia
Marjorie Mandelstam Balzer
An analysis of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia) in the Russian Federation reveals a variety of village and urban reactions to crises of faith and power. The significance for group identity and instances of synergistic group belief are discussed. The transition that has seen amorphous underground shamanic practice lead to the institutionalization of shamanic cosmology is reflected in the recent opening of a temple in the Republic's capital, Yakutsk, and in the various groups that adhere to charismatic healers and seers. Debates about faith, as well as fragmented faith epistemologies, are described. The data derive from over 25 years of intermittent fieldwork in the Republic and with the Sakha diaspora. My approach is situated at the crossroads of medical-psychological anthropology, political anthropology, and new religious movement analysis.
On Implications for Migrants, Refugees, and Scholarship
This article discusses the politicization of the transnational paradigm in terms of development and security, refugee and migrant regimes, and transnational practices. The analysis makes two principal arguments. The first is that diasporas and mobility in general have been both securitized and developmentalized. These two processes are intertwined but also contradictory. While migration is seen as a development resource, 'uncontrolled' population flows—particularly of refugees—are looked upon as security threats by states and policy makers. This duo-faceted approach is at the root of the politicization of the transnational paradigm. The second argument of this text is that this politicization and the neo-liberal mega-trend are also entwined, despite the fact that the scholars who introduced transnationalism to migration research saw it as reflecting a process of globalization 'from below'.
New Insights on Converso Literature
Harm den Boer
This article deals with a famous work on philosophy written by Alonso de la Torre and its fate in the Western Sephardi diaspora. Torre most probably was a converted Jew; he wrote his book half a century after Spanish Jewry underwent a dramatic transformation due to the terrible massacres of 1390 and 1391 in the major cities of Spain and the ensuing conversions of many persecuted Jews. The intolerance that would ultimately lead to the Edict of Expulsion of the Jews of 1492 – and so to the origin of the Judeo-Spanish speaking communities in North Africa and the Ottoman Empire – profoundly changed Spain's cultural landscape, ending a centuries-long period of mutual cultural interaction. Yet, paradoxically, with the massive influx of the so-called Conversos into Spanish society, Christian culture also underwent changes, absorbing new experiences and influences. The Visión deleitable y sumario de todas las ciencias by Torre is a didactical work on philosophy and religion that had enormous success in Christian Spain, in spite of its large debt to the Guide of the Perplexed by the Jewish sage Maimonides. Reprinted many times in Catholic Spain, this work was also published in Italy and the Dutch Low Countries, in the communities of those Iberian Conversos who returned to Judaism. There has been huge speculation as to how the Visión deleitable was interpreted by both Christian and Jewish readers. Through a hitherto unstudied report by the Spanish Inquisition and an examination of the editions printed in the Western Sephardi diaspora (Ferrara and Amsterdam) I will offer some fresh reflections on the fascinating reception of this text in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
Today, Is 'Ethnicity' the Most Important Topic in the Middle East?
It was decided by the editorial board of AME that some issues of the journal should be open-themed so that new topics of interest to researchers could have a place to be presented, and, in this way, perhaps new horizons of scholarship could be opened up. This issue was an open-theme issue but, amazingly, all the articles are concerned in one way or other with ethnicity. Would it be incorrect to call this the most important concern in the Middle East today? I think there is some truth to it, as our articles show: from concern with nation formation through enculturation in mahallah’s of Uzbekistan; to linguistic behaviour in two regions in Uzbekistan; to ethnic conflict and violence in Kyrgyzstan; the Turkish diaspora returning to Turkey and trying to set a superior example; and last but not least the emblem of a prosperous nation, Qatar, claiming not only tribal origins but also acting democratically through tribal delineation at times of voting. This is exactly what I have observed in southern Iran where people vote according to tribal lines. The same topic was evoked in ‘You Have Car Insurance, We Have Tribes’ (AME 6 no. 1, 2011).
Nationalism, Feminism, and the Ukrainian Women's Movement
Martha Kichorowska Kebalo
Aspects of the women's movement evolving in post-Soviet Ukraine may be viewed as an extension of a transnational Ukrainian women's movement that had its origins in the nineteenth-century Russian and Austro-Hungarian empires. This essay traces the continuities of personnel and mission that serve to link disparate historical phases of such a movement over temporal and geographic discontinuities, even over homeland and diaspora communities. A central question is how the political history of Ukraine, and in particular, its lack of a unified state for most of the twentieth century, has affected the history of the country's women's movement. Historically, the feminism of Ukrainian women, often clearly evident in their pronouncements and strategies, has been obscured by the political context of their movement, which has encouraged its framing as nationalist, even by the women themselves. It is suggested that a growing body of historical scholarship is promoting a broader understanding of Ukrainian women's activism. Such projects can serve to bridge ruptures in the 'national ethos' that stem from Ukraine's complex history, reclaim the feminism of the movement, and focus the range of women's activism in Ukraine on a consensual, specifically women's, agenda.
Halacha, Laws and Politics
There is no question in my mind that Rabbi Lilienthal has made a lasting impact on our world Progressive Jewish family in the area of conversion, both in addressing the unique challenge facing you here in Holland, in the leadership he has demonstrated in the European Beit Din in helping forge common practices and policies regarding conversion in Europe, and in the support he has been providing for our Eastern European and Russian communities. It is therefore highly appropriate for us to deliberate on the question of 'Who is a Jew?' at this time, as it has occupied a significant part of David's contribution to the Jewish People and the Reform Movement over the years. Moreover, I cannot think of any other issue that has had such an impact on Israel-Diaspora relations and provided ground for contention and divisiveness than the 'Who is a Jew' question. Clearly, it is not because of the relatively small number of converts who have actually made aliyah, but rather, because of its symbolic significance. Through the 'Who is a Jew?' definition, Israel is declaring its own perception of what is legitimate and what is not throughout the world.
Both the American Mishkan Tefilah (2007) and the British Forms of Prayer (2008) contain striking renderings of the tenth, fourteenth and fifteenth blessings of the Amidah (traditionally the Blessings for the Ingathering of Exiles, the Rebuilding of Jerusalem and the Flourishing of the Messiah). A close comparison of these blessing in the two siddurim, exploring how each interacts with the classical liturgy, reveals fundamental similarities and subtle differences between the two prayerbooks. Forms of Prayer reshapes the meanings of the blessings by expanding upon and reworking the classical formulations, often keeping the opening and closing of the blessing intact; Mishkan Tefilah, in contrast, jettisons most of the traditional language in order to articulate requests, more fitting to its ideology. Both siddurim, despite their different liturgical strategies, are the Reform Movements' most Zionist to date. They are particularly focused on Israel, without negating the value of life in the Diaspora. They express a form of 'Liberal Religious Zionism' that calls for the moral growth rather than the physical repair of Israel. Both have taken a step back from their 1970s foregoers' embrace of the myth of Holocaust and Redemption; no longer completely confident of God's dominant hand in history, they express the need for human as well as divine agency in the betterment of the world. Both siddurim reflect values of individualism and spirituality; additional biblical allusions have been worked into the various blessings to expand their semantic possibilities, allowing any worshiper to configure them according to his or her own spiritual outlook.