Subalterns and Social Protest: History from Below in the Middle East and North Africa, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Subalterns and Social Protest

History from Below in the Middle East and North Africa, 1st Edition

Edited by Stephanie Cronin


322 pages

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The articles in this collection provide an alternative view of Middle Eastern history by focusing on the oppressed and the excluded, offering a challenge to the usual elite narratives. The collection is unique in its historical depth - ranging from the medieval period to the present - and its geographical reach, including Iran, the Ottoman Empire/Turkey, the Balkans, the Arab Middle East and North Africa.

The first to focus on the oppressed and the excluded, and their differing strategies of survival, of negotiation, and of protest and resistance, the book covers:

    • both major social classes and sectors
    • the working class
    • the peasantry
    • the urban poor
    • women
    • marginal groups such as gypsies and slaves

Based on perspectives drawn from the work of the great European social historians, and particularly inspired by Antonio Gramsci, the collection seeks to restore a sense of historical agency to subaltern classes in the region, and to uncover ‘the politics of the people’.


'As an exploratory attempt to bring the methods and concerns of "History from below" to the region, the book is a clear success' - R.S.G. Fletcher, Asian Affairs, 2008

' In terms of historical span, extending from the 16th century to the present, and its geographical diversity, the collection is a unique contribution to the effort of recovering the subaltern margins of society' - Nazan Maksudyan, International Journal of Middle East Studies. 42 (2010)

Table of Contents

Introduction Stephanie Cronin Part 1: The Urban Crowd and Popular Protest 1. Street Violence and Social Imagination in Late Mamluk and Ottoman Damascus James Grehan 2. Women and Popular Protest: Women’s Demonstrations in Nineteenth Century Iran Vanessa Martin Part 2: Poor People’s Politics 3. Popular Protest, the Market and the State in Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Century Egypt John Chalcraft 4. Workless Revolutionaries: The Movement of the Unemployed in Post-Revolutionary Iran Asef Bayat 5. Transforming the City from Below: Shanty-Town Dwellers and the Fight for Electricity in Casablanca Lamia Zaki Part 3: Peasants and Nomads 6. Resisting the New State: The Rural Poor, Land and Modernity in Iran, 1921-1941 Stephanie Cronin Part 4: Marginals and Outcasts 7. Exploring the Margins of Ottoman Society: "Disorderly" Gypsies" Failk Celik 8. Emancipated Female Slaves in Algiers: Marriage, Property and Social Advancement in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries Fatiha Loualich Part 5: European Subalterns 9. "Making It" in Pre-Colonial Tunis: Migration, Work and Poverty in a Mediterranean Port-City, c. 1815-1870 Julia Clancy-Smith 10. Foreign Workers in Egypt 1882-1914: Subalterns or Labour Aristocracy? Antony Gorman Part 6: Subalterns and National Movements 11. From National Heroes to National Villains: Bandits and the Formation of Modern Greece Gerassimos Karabelias 12. Seizing the Initiative, Regaining a Voice: The Al-Aqsa Intifada as a Strategy of the Marginalized Roger Heacock

About the Editor

Stephanie Cronin is Iran Heritage Foundation Fellow at the University of Northampton. Her most recent book is Tribal Politics in Iran: Rural Conflict and the New State, 1921–1941, also published by Routledge.

About the Series

SOAS/Routledge Studies on the Middle East

This series features the latest disciplinary approaches to Middle Eastern Studies. It covers the Social Sciences and the Humanities in both the pre-modern and modern periods of the region. While primarily interested in publishing single-authored studies, the series is also open to edited volumes on innovative topics, as well as textbooks and reference works.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Africa / North
HISTORY / Middle East / Israel
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Social Policy
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Regional Studies