OMER Blog

Posts to the OMER blog do not have any length or topical restrictions. They are edited before publication by the OMER team, but they are not necessarily peer-reviewed, unlike articles printed in our annual review. Published blog posts reflect the views of their authors alone, and do not represent official views of the Oxford Middle East Review and its editorial team.

Book Review of Afghan Napoleon: The Life of Ahmad Shah Massoud, by Sandy Gall

By Kelly Skinner Sandy Gall’s Afghan Napoleon tells the long-neglected story of Ahmad Shah Massoud, a figure who has loomed large in both the public imaginations of Afghanistan and its neighboring country of Tajikistan. Massoud is best known for his struggle against the Soviet Union as part of the Mujahideen and, later, for facing down the Taliban as they moved…

An Interview with Artist and Activist Bahia Shehab

By Erin Hayes Bahia Shehab is a multidisciplinary artist, designer, political activist, and historian whose work focuses on the intersection of modern identity and ancient cultural heritage. Her imaginative combination of calligraphy and Islamic art history produced cutting edge, beautiful, impactful street art during the Arab Spring and continues to inform her work. She is also a professor of the practice of design…

On Marginalized Arab Literature and Translation: An Interview with Professor Marilyn Booth

By Ethan Dinçer How do pieces of Arab literature make it to mainstream Western presses? What does the process of translating works and researching fringe literary actors look like? I spoke with Marilyn Booth, Professor and Director of Research in Oriental Studies and Khalid bin Abdullah Al Saud Professor in the Study of the Contemporary Arab World at Magdalen College,…

British Self-Defeating Orientalism at Gallipoli

By Marc Martorell Junyent “When Japan defeated Russia in the war of 1904-05, the world was watching,” notes historian Patrick Porter. British General Ian Hamilton saw every detail, as he followed the war on the ground as a military observer.[1] The Japanese victory over a European power at the Tsushima Straits reverberated throughout Asia, challenging the validity of the West-East…

Solitary Daughter: An Interview with Singer-Songwriter Bedouine

By: Kelly Skinner When Azniv Korkejian, known by her stage name Bedouine, answers the phone, I’m initially struck by how similar her speaking voice is to her songs. Korkejian sings her modern folk songs levelly, with an intonation that is just as comfortable making wry observations about California, such as in her song “Back To You” – “They talk in…

Memories of Souq al-Hamidiyah

By Oisín Breen This city is an edifice, and its children blush.Yet its streets belong to everyone,And I, the people, sing. I sing for the millennia,In which we have constructed edifices,With a loose knit pageantry of space and difference, And I sing for the dream of us,Dipping our beaks in home-spun interlinears,Walking and falling together like drunken lovers on old…

An Interview with the Founder of OMER

On November 27, 2021, Managing Editors of the Oxford Middle East Review Sawsène Nejjar and Juliet O’Brien sat down with Andreas Björklund, one of the co-founders of OMER in 2016 and current Anthropology DPhil student. Andreas reflects on the process of founding a new journal at the University of Oxford, establishing an academic framework and preparing OMER for future success,…

An Interview with Tajik Poet Rustam Ajami

This interview was conducted by Kelly Skinner via email in Tajik and then translated into English. The author is not a professional translator nor a native Tajik speaker; please excuse any errors. Thank you to the OMER team for translation assistance. Дар соли ду ҳазору шонздаҳ шумо беҳтарин шоири ҷавон шинохта шудед. Барои кадом китоб ё шеъри шумо буд? Ҳар 5 сол…

Book Review for Contested Lands: A History of the Middle East since the First World War, T.G. Fraser

By Juliet O’Brien In under 250 pages, T.G. Fraser manages to offer a concise yet thorough account of history in the Middle East from the First World War to the present. In Contested Lands, Fraser focusses particularly on the interventions and interactions of European powers with the region, yet he avoids describing every major event through a Eurocentric prism. Contested…

What Remains is never quite Real

By Oisín Breen Once, in my old house in Damascus,We knew it as the Pink House,I was visited by a young American. And once, when the boiler rumbled, as it did, daily,He threw me beneath my bed at a bone-shattering pace,To save me from a phantasm, that hounded him. He had travelled 7,447 miles on the back of an absurd…

A Dialogue with Professor Eugene Rogan

This interview from September 10, 2021, was conducted between Jodie Wen, a PhD candidate at Peking University (PKU) in China and visiting student at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies (OSGA), and Professor Eugene Rogan, professor of Modern Middle Eastern Studies at St. Antony’s College, Oxford. This interview was originally intended to reach a Chinese audience, and its…

#Masaktach: Social Media and Sexual Violence Against Women in Morocco

By Ella Williams* Abstract: This article addresses the issue of sexual violence against women in Morocco, including the legal, social, and cultural barriers facing women victims of sexual violence and the role of the media in perpetuating discourses of blame and shame. Drawing on fieldwork carried out in Rabat, she provides an in-depth exploration of #Masaktach, a Moroccan civil society…

Rehearsing Revolution : How Live Action Role Playing Contributes to the Palestinian Resistance Movement

by Johanna Svanelind Since its introduction to Palestine in 2011, LARP (Live Action Role-Playing) has been subverted and adapted by local groups in order to create authentic Palestinian forms of LARP. This article explores how LARP can be used as a tool of resistance, in ways similar to that of Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre or ‘Izz al-Din al-Madani’s recreation of…