Monday, February 14, 2011

Egypt's Revolution in Historical Context

Updated 15 February 2011: To listen to the podcast of this program, click on:
See also Prof. Makdisi's piece in Huffington Post: "Egypt: Why Is The United States Afraid Of Arab Democracy?".

The successful revolt in Egypt has laid bare the limits of U.S. attempts to impose its will over the Middle East. For the next edition of Subversity, a KUCI public affairs program, we talk with Prof. Ussama Makdisi, a Rice University professor and the first holder of the Arab American Education Foundation Chair of Arab Studies there.

We also expect to provide listeners with a news update on the street protests in Yemen by UCI sociology graduate student Dana Moss of the Yemen Peace Project. She last appeared on Subversity last Monday.

Makdisi is the author of the new, critical analysis of U.S. interference in the region, Faith Misplaced: The Broken Promise of U.S.-Arab Relations: 1820-2001, New York: Public Affairs, 2010.

According to his Rice profile: "His previous books include Artillery of Heaven: American Missionaries and the Failed Conversion of the Middle East (Cornell University Press, 2008), which was the winner of the 2008 Albert Hourani Book Award from the Middle East Studies Association, the 2009 John Hope Franklin Prize of the American Studies Association, and a co-winner of the 2009 British-Kuwait Friendship Society Book Prize given by the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies. Makdisi is also the author of The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History, and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (University of California Press, 2000) and co-editor of Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa (Indiana University Press, 2006). He has published widely on Ottoman and Arab history as well as on U.S.-Arab relations and U.S. missionary work in the Middle East. Among his major articles are “Anti-Americanism in the Arab World: An Interpretation of Brief History” which appeared in the Journal of American History and “Ottoman Orientalism” and “Reclaiming the Land of the Bible: Missionaries, Secularism, and Evangelical Modernity” both of which appeared in the American Historical Review. Professor Makdisi has also published in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, Comparative Studies in Society and History, and in the Middle East Report.

"By exploring missed opportunities for cultural understanding, by retrieving unused historical evidence, and by juxtaposing for the first time Arab perspectives and archives with American ones, his work counters a notion of an inevitable clash of civilizations and thus reshapes our view of the history of America in the Arab world.

"As a professor at Rice, Makdisi is interested in encouraging a new transnational approach to the study of American foreign relations as well as a more contextual understanding of the modern Middle East. He is also interested in new scholarship on overseas missionary work."

Subversity airs from 5-6 p.m. today on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County, California, and is simulcast via He is interviewed by show host Daniel C. Tsang. A podcast will be posted later.

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