In the Time of Oil. Piety, Memory and Social Life in an Omani Town
. By Mandana Limbert. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010.
In the Time of Oil explores local social change in Bahla, a small town in the interior of Oman. This change is brought about by the 1970s oil boom and the development of the Omani state under Sultan Qabus, commonly believed to be the ‘author’ of the Omani renaissance. Endowed with new oil revenues, Sultan Qabus tried to integrate the Omani periphery, which had been the political centre of a rival Ibadhi imamate in the interior into the newly consolidated state of 1971. Assisted by a new bureaucratic elite, mainly Omani returnees from East Africa, he brought development plans and modernisation projects to the heartland of the country, historically associated with the vanished conservative Ibadhi imamate. Unlike other oil states of the Gulf region where the promise of an oil utopia enforced the legitimacy of authoritarian regimes, this book shows how in Oman, development discourse fostered mysteries, miracles, surprises and deferred dystopias. Because the new social and economic development was entirely generated by sudden oil wealth (the miracle), the new prosperity is seen as a fleeting moment, hostage to a memory of poverty and austerity and an uncertain future.
Posted by Main at 03:00 PM.
News And Views •
Hanan Kholoussy For Better, For Worse: the Marriage Crisis that Made Modern Egypt
. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2010, pp. 188, bibliographical references, index, ISBN 978-0-8047-6960-0 pbk.
Published in Middle Eastern Studies 2011-10-21
As a self-conscious group with its own economic mode of production, normative worldview, consumption patterns and styles of being and behaving, spokesmen of the middle classes often frighten society with stories about men not marrying, the disintegration of contracted marriages, and the break up of the nuclear family. Shunning away from marriage among urban men of this class is guaranteed to create a cross-cultural, almost a universal anxiety associated with elevating a personal choice into a political and national agenda that announces not only social ills and psychological turbulences but also communal disintegration and the withering of the nation as a whole. Such urban anxiety does not often find echoes among the traditional old peasantry or their equivalents among industrialised agricultural communities.
Posted by Main at 02:59 PM.
Book Reviews •
The Arab Revolution. The Lessons From The Democratic Uprising
by Jean-Pierre Filiu, London: Hurst and Co.
Paperback, ISBN 978-1-84904-159-1, 195 pages
Published in Times Higher Education Supplement 29 September 2011-10-21
It may be premature to draw lessons from the on-going Arab revolutions but Jean-Pierre Filiu, an expert on the politics of the region, identifies ten such lessons before the dust has settled. As such, the analysis is swift, relying on the author’s previous knowledge of the region and observations of current events. There is no grand theoretical framework to understand the uprisings, nor an attempt to see them through the prism of long duree historical process. As a result, the book is a cross between a sophisticated journalistic account and policy recommendations.
Posted by Main at 02:54 PM.
Book Reviews •