Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Middle East: Tribal Modern: Branding New Nations in the Arab Gulf/Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

Magazine article Foreign Affairs

Recent Books: Middle East: Tribal Modern: Branding New Nations in the Arab Gulf/Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings

Article excerpt

Tribal Modern: Branding New Nations in the Arab Gulf BY MIRIAM COOKE. University of California Press, 2014, 224 pp. $65.00 (paper, $29.95).

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: From the Iraq War to the Arab Uprisings BY FREDERIC M. WEHREY. Columbia University Press, 2014, 352 pp. $45.00.

These books present two very different takes on the most dynamic part of the Arab world. Cooke explores tribalism in the hypermodern Gulf; Wehrey examines the causes of the region's Shiite-Sunni divide.

Cooke's eclectic depiction of the reinvention of tribal identity makes use of the Arabic term barzakh, which she defines as the meeting-but not commingling-of two distinct elements, to capture the chemistry between tribal heritage and modernity. Yet what she describes seems like extensive commingling, with the arrival of such new "traditions" as racing remote-controlled camels, staging national contests in Bedouin poetry, and even women dressing as men-but wearing the de rigueur thawb.

Wehrey dispassionately chronicles sectarianism in the three Gulf countries where Shiite-Sunni tensions are arguably most significant: Bahrain, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. He details how regional developments, above all the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979, the U. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.