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Introduction: The Advantages of Arriving Late

by Brian T. Edwards
Director of the Program in Middle East and North African Studies | Northwestern University

There is an advantage in arriving late to the party. You can catch up on the conversations that have been going on for some time before you arrived, missing the original intrigue, perhaps, but happy too that much of it died out before you got there. You can sidestep those strands that seem to have become mired in argument and obsessive dispute. And your presence – your new perspective – can sometimes open a fresh angle on what seemed a closed circle.

Arriving late to the party is perhaps the rule of scholarship in the humanities and interpretive social sciences. So many conversations have been going on long before the latest generation arrived, first as students and then as teachers. There is always plenty of catching up to do – it frequently worries graduate students, and often younger professors, too. But there is the life cycle of careers in research and teaching; new perspectives and new approaches are the rule.

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Contents

1 – Fed-up and bored
Affect and political action in revolutionary Egypt
JESSICA WINEGAR


2 – An emotional lens on the 2011 Arab uprisings
WENDY PEARLMAN


3 – At home in the network
Women’s digital and social mobility in Egypt
SONALI PAHWA


4 – Youth-generated media
A brief introduction
JOE F. KHALIL


5 – Religious freedom and the crisis in Syria
ELIZABETH SHAKMAN HURD

6 – Walking a tightrope
Egyptian reformers in Mecca, 1928 – 29
HENRI LAUZIÈRE


7 – Importing the novel
Arabic literature’s foreign objects
REBECCA C. JOHNSON


8 – American culture in its Middle East circulation
BRIAN T. EDWARDS


9 – Berbers, borders and breakdown in the 2011 Libyan civil war
In the 2011 Libyan civil war
KATHERINE E. HOFFMAN


10 – Constitutional Islam
Genealogies, transmissions and meanings
KRISTEN STILT