The Social History of Labor in the Middle East

The Social History of Labor in the Middle East

The Social History of Labor in the Middle East

The Social History of Labor in the Middle East


"The social history of labor in the Middle East emerged in the 1980s as a major area of research, as historians sought to uncover the roots of working-class organizing. This volume, the first in an important new series, presents a broad overview of recent literature on the history of workers in the Middle East since 1800 in a bold effort to bring together new directions in research and to reexamine the relevance of established ones. Taken together the essays provide a historically grounded context for viewing the shifting relationship between states and the world economy as well as between particular states and classes." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved


It is crucially important for Americans to get beyond the essentialist stereotypes about Islam and Middle Easterners that have tended to obscure our understanding of the region and its peoples. Over the past decades, important new perspectives have become available on the modern Middle East. the old paradigms, rooted in modernization theory and the emergence of nationalism in the region, are giving way to more complex understandings grounded in social and cultural history.

The field of Middle Eastern studies has formerly been preoccupied with the state and elite groups and has utilized official documents and literary sources. More recently, researchers have increasingly focused upon the experiences of nonelites -- women, workers, peasants, and ethnic minorities -- and drawn upon new sources or have devised new strategies for rereading the old ones. This process is still continuing, but already the outlines of a new social history are visible. in this moment of intellectual transition, a series devoted to the social history of the Middle East has much to contribute.

In an effort to provide a measure of coherence to the mainstreaming of social history across the disciplines, the Social History of the Middle East series focuses on historically grounded social science research on the Middle East. History is seen as a broad interdisciplinary space within the social sciences, a zone of convergence between anthropology, politics, sociology, and history rather than as a particular academic discipline. the purpose of the series is to stimulate and focus methodological reflection and scholarship on topics of importance to the Middle Eastern field and to make more widely available the research of a new generation of scholars.

Often new scholarly debates take place in hard-to-find specialized journals, and their findings are slow to make their way into the mainstream. Scholars tend to address one another, using specialized languages that are not widely understood by a general audience. Within the field, research has proceeded unevenly across the region, and scholarship has tended to develop within the confines of national literatures. As a result, scholars working on similar topics but in different countries are often unaware of one another's work. Research on Middle Eastern workers, women, and the family, or urbanism, has thus been slow to find its way into textbooks.

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