Sunday, December 12, 2010


Here is an excerpt from the Review's first issue: introduction and Asad's article "Anthropological texts and ideological problems: an analysis of Cohen on Arab villages in Israel"

For a number of years some of those who write and teach about the Middle East, both in this country and abroad, have become increasingly dissatisfied with the state of Middle East studies. This is not only a reflection of concern at the politically-motivated bias which can be found in much work on the subject, but also at its profound methodological limitations so often characterised by a combination of naive commonsense and vacuous theorising. Inappropriate concepts are regularly applied; a great deal of writing is simply irrelevant.

In contrast to this, our aim is to encourage the production of theoretically relevant work informed by a critical appreciation of the Middle East and its history. We have created no organisation or group to do this and hope that others will join us in helping to develop more rewarding analyses. Our aim i s not to make this journal a forum for a single, explicit political or theoretical position but rather to see it develop as the expression of a general tendency of thought.

All but one of the papers printed here were originally written for a seminar held at Hull University in September 1974. They are offered simply as the beginning of a series of critiques which we hope will eventually include most of the important and influential works within modern Middle Eastern studies. There has been no imposition of editorial opinion. The individual authors take individual responsibility for their work.

It is hoped to produce a similar collection of critiques at least once a year, as well as to publish an Arabic translation. Further seminars may also be held from time to time.

Talal Asad
Roger Owen

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