New books in Anthropology

Muslim in Imperial RussiaNEW October 2014

Becoming Muslim in Imperial Russia: Conversion, Apostasy, and Literacy

by Agnes Nilufer Kefeli

(Cornell University Press; 312 pages; Oct. 2014).

Kefeli chronicles the collective turn to Islam in the late 19th century by many of the Russian Middle Volga region’s Krashens, the Muslim and animist Tatars who converted to Russian Orthodoxy between the 16th and 18th centuries. By analyzing Russian, Eurasian, and Central Asian ethnographic, administrative, literary, and missionary sources, Kefeli shows how traditional education, with Sufi mystical components, helped to Islamize Finno-Ugric and Turkic peoples in the Kama-Volga countryside and set the stage for the development of modernist Islam in Russia.

NEW Afghanistan Remembers: Gendered Narrations of Violence and Culinary Practices by4601 Dossa Selected.indd Parin Dossa (University of Toronto Press; 192 pages; July 2014). Combines scholarly and personal perspectives in a study of how decades of violence in Afghanistan figure in the memories and foodways of Afghani women.

The Buddha on Mecca’s Verandah: Encounters, Mobilities, and Histories Along the Malaysian-Thai Border by Irving Chan Johnson (University of Washington Press; 223 pages; $30 paperback). An ethnographic study of Thai Buddhists who live as a non-Muslim minority in the Malaysian state of Kelantan.

Conservative Islam: A Cultural Anthropology by Erich Kolig (Lexington Books; 410 pages; Oct. 2013). By highlighting socio-cultural configurations, the universals they represent, the circumstances of their creation, and their semiotic meaning, Kolig helps the reader gain understanding of Islam in the modern world.

Days of Revolution: Political Unrest in an Iranian Village by Mary Elaine Hegland (Stanford University Press; 352 pages; $28; Oct. 2013). While conventional wisdom assumes Shi’a religious ideology fueled the revolutionary movement, Hegland counters that the 1979 Revolution spread through much more pragmatic concerns: growing inequality, lack of development and employment opportunities, government corruption.


Fertile Bonds: Bedouin Class, Kinship, and Gender in the Bekaa Valley by Suzanne E. Joseph (University Press of Florida; 246 pages; Sept. 2013). Documents high levels of social and demographic equality among Bedouin in Lebanon; describes how their fertility rates, among the highest in the world, coincide with moderate mortality rates and a high level of nutrition.

book.gulenGülen: The Ambiguous Politics of Market Islam in Turkey and the World by Joshua D. Hendrick (NYU Press; 304 pages; $49). The “Hizmet” (“Service”) Movement of Fethullah Gülen is Turkey’s most influential Islamic identity community. Hendrick suggests that it should be given credit for playing a significant role in Turkey’s rise to global prominence.

Iraqi Women in Denmark: Ritual Performance and Belonging in Everyday Life by Marianne Holm Pedersen (Manchester University Press, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan; 197 pages; March 2014). Considers how religious and other ritual practices create a sense of belonging for Shi’ite Muslim Iraqi women in Copenhagen.

Kurdish Life in Contemporary Turkey: Migration, Gender and Ethnic Identity by Anna Gkurdistanrabolle-Celiker (I.B. Tauris, distributed by Palgrave Macmillan; 299 pages; $99). Examines the everyday experiences of rural-to-urban migrants through a study of the seasonal and now full-scale migration of Kurds from villages in eastern provincial Turkey to the regional capital of Van or to Istanbul in the west.

Kurdistan on the Global Stage: Kinship, Land, and Community in Iraq by Diane E. King (Rutgers University Press; 286 pages; Dec. 2013). In the new Kurdistan, old values may be maintained, reformulated, or questioned. King offers a sensitive interpretation of the challenges resulting from the intersection of tradition with modernity.

Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi’ite South Beirut by Lara Deeb and Mona Harb (Princeton University Press; 304 pages; Oct. 2013). Provides a sophisticated and original look at leisure in the Lebanese capital. The authors elucidate the political, economic, religious, and social changes.

Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt by Farha Ghannam (Stanford University damascusPress; 222 pages; $24.95 paperback). This book traces how masculinity is continuously maintained and reaffirmed by both men and women under changing socio-economic and political conditions. Against a backdrop of individual experiences, Ghannam develops the concept of masculine trajectories to account for the various paths men can take to embody social norms.

Preserving the Old City of Damascus by Faedah M. Totah (Syracuse University Press; 283 pages; 2014). An ethnographic study of the gentrification of the historic core of the Syrian capital.

Violence and Vengeance: Religious Conflict and Its Aftermath in Eastern Indonesia by Christopher R. Duncan (Cornell University Press; 240 pages; Sept. 2013). Draws on fieldwork in the province of North Malaku, the site of tensions that evolved into Muslim-Christian violence in 1999-2000.

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