Political Civility in the Middle East: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Political Civility in the Middle East

1st Edition

Edited by Frederic Volpi


208 pages

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Contemporary debates about civility are shaped by the dominant liberal and secular narratives of a peaceful world of sovereign nation-states. For contemporary scholars and policy makers, the challenge is to insert meaningfully the political evolution of the Middle East in the dominant liberal-democratic discourse about the current international order without invoking ill-conceived notions of Islamic exceptionalism.

The analyses gathered in this book challenge conventional ‘western’ perspectives on civility as an expression of state-guaranteed free association in a non-violent space of discourse and behaviour. Considering the articulation of ‘civil’ and ‘civilized’ state-society relations in contemporary Middle Eastern polities, this book proposes both conceptual and empirical insights into the dynamics of the local, national and trans-national formation of civility and of the civil sphere. Bypassing traditional oppositions between the ‘western’ and ‘Islamic’ modernity, it provides an account of the communicative clusters of civility that represent the everyday formations of Islamic and secular subjects in settings organized by authoritarian-inclined state institutions and practices. It examines how the grassroots formation of ‘new’ religious and secular identities/subjectivities and their relations with the ‘Other’ underpin, as well as challenge and transform, the state-led processes of political ordering of a national and regional community.

This book was originally published as a special issue of Third World Quarterly.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: invoking political civility in the Middle East, Frédéric Volpi. 2. Civility: Between Disciplined Interaction and Local/Translocal Connectedness, Armando Salvatore. 3. Framing civility in the Middle East: alternative perspectives on the state and civil society, Frédéric Volpi. 4. Authoritarian Government, Neo-Liberalism and Everyday Civilities in Egypt, Salwa Ismail. 5. An Uncivil Partnership: Egypt’s Gama’a Islamiyya and the State after the Jihad, Ewan Stein. 6. Transitional African Spaces in Comparative Analysis: Inclusion, Exclusion, and Informality in Morocco and Cape Verde, Pedro F. Marcelino and Hermon Farahi. 7. Fascism, Civility and the Crisis of the Turkish State, Tim Jacoby. 8. Hizbullah in the Civilising Process: Anarchy, Self-Restraint and Violence, Adham Saouli. 9. Official Islam and the Limits of Communicative Action: The Paradox of the Amman Message, Michaelle Browers. 10. The Arab State and (Absent) Civility in New Communicative Spaces, Emma C. Murphy. 11.Dis-Orienting Clusters of Civility, S. Sayyid. 12. Epilogue: Civilities, Subjectivities and Collective Action: Preliminary Reflections in Light of the Egyptian Revolution, Salwa Ismail.

About the Editor

Frédéric Volpi is Senior Lecturer in International Relations and Director of the Institute of Middle Eastern and Central Asian Studies at the University of St Andrews. His research addresses the political construction of Islamism and democratic-authoritarian interactions in the Muslim world. His latest book is Political Islam Observed: Disciplinary Perspective (Columbia University Press, 2010).

About the Series


THIRDWORLDS will focus on the political economy, development and cultures of those parts of the world that have experienced the most political, social, and economic upheaval, and which have faced the greatest challenges of the postcolonial world under globalisation: poverty, displacement and diaspora, environmental degradation, human and civil rights abuses, war, hunger, and disease.

THIRDWORLDS serves as a signifier of oppositional emerging economies and cultures ranging from Africa, Asia, Latin America, Middle East, and even those ‘Souths’ within a larger perceived North, such as the U.S. South and Mediterranean Europe. The study of these otherwise disparate and discontinuous areas, known collectively as the Global South, demonstrates that as globalisation pervades the planet, the south, as a synonym for subalterity, also transcends geographical and ideological frontiers.

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