In This Review

Striking From the Margins: State,  Religion, and Devolution of Authority  in the Middle East
Striking From the Margins: State, Religion, and Devolution of Authority in the Middle East
Edited by Aziz Al-Azmeh, Nadia Al-Bagdadi, Harout Akdedian, and Harith Hasan
Saqi Books, 2021, 352 pp.

This volume is the product of a twofold endeavor: the editors want to shed light on once marginalized actors who are becoming increasingly important as state authority in the Middle East erodes, and they hope to bring novel, sometimes overlooked perspectives to the conventional analysis of politics in the region. The simultaneous efforts to uncover the often obscured margins of politics and analysis are complicated, ambitious, and not entirely successful. An intimidatingly erudite introduction marshals Arab and European social theory to illuminate contemporary states, sects, and social movements. Later sections are more accessible, including a number of individual contributions that provide provocative and revealing analysis on issues as varied as the causes and consequences of Arab civil wars, the regional reach of private Gulf business conglomerates, the evolution of religious and sectarian affiliations in war-torn Iraq and Syria, and the role of external actors such as Russia and Turkey in the region. The contributors bring fresh outlooks to some of the most compelling questions of the moment.