Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion

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The emergence of the modern Middle East has been accompanied by a concentration of coercive power in the state. Although the region has encompassed numerous Mukhabarat (secret police) states, extensive policing and carceral regimes, and widespread use of torture and spectacular punishments, and although its prisons and policing practices are regularly condemned by human rights organisations, surprisingly few analyses explore the emergence of these grim institutions.

This volume is the first to examine systematically practices of policing and incarceration in the modern Middle East, the emergence of modern policing and prisons and their continued predominance. It offers a useful lens through which the complexity of state power and the contours of popular contentious politics can be read.

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Editorial Reviews

Arab Studies Journal - Paul Amar

Laleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler's edited volume enable us to read the world of recent uprisings in far more sophisticated ways than would otherwise be possible.

Arab Studies Journal
Laleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler's edited volume enable us to read the world of recent uprisings in far more sophisticated ways than would otherwise be possible.

— Paul Amar

From the Publisher
"Laleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler's edited volume enable us to read the world of recent uprisings in far more sophisticated ways than would otherwise be possible."—Paul Amar, Arab Studies Journal

"An innovative and exciting approach to the study of power and its exercise, dynamics, and effects. Each chapter contributes important empirical and conceptual insights into the study of prisons and policing in the Middle East. Indeed, the wealth of new empirical material is very impressive."—Nichola Pratt, author of Democracy and Authoritarianism in the Arab World

"This volume sets a new standard for scholarship on this subject. While political violence, authoritarianism, and other variations of unrepresentative rule are rife throughout the Middle East, the empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated essays in this collection are a refreshing alternative to scholarship that treats these phenomena as explanatory or emblematic."—Lisa Hajjar, University of California, author of Courting Conflict: The Israeli Military Court System in the West Bank and Gaza

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780231701761
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press
  • Publication date: 10/29/2010
  • Series: Columbia/Hurst Series
  • Pages: 352
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Laleh Khalili is Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics at SOAS, and the author of Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: the Politics of National Commemoration.

Jillian Schwedler is Associate Professor in Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and most recently the author of Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen.

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Table of Contents


1. Policing the Desert: Coercion, Consent and the Colonial Order in Syria
Dan Neep

2. Israeli Biopolitics, Palestinian Policing: Order and Resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Nigel Parsons

3. Tangled Webs of Coercion: Parastatal Production of Violence in Abu Ghraib
Laleh Khalili

4. Barring the Algerian Subject: Carcerality and Resistance under Market-Statism
Sayres S. Rudy

5. Post-colonial Policing and the "Woman" Question: A History of the Women's Police Directorate in Bahrain
Staci Strobl

6. The Police Organization in Turkey in the Post-1980 Period and the Re-Construction of the Social Formation
Biriz Berksoy


7. Confining Political Dissent in Egypt before 1952
Anthony Gorman

8. Observing the Everyday: Policing and the Conditions of Possibility in Gaza (1948-1967)
Ilana Feldman

9. Riot Police and Policing Protest in Turkey
Ayssen Uysal

10. Incarcerated Women, Honorable Women
Roberta Micallef


11. The Victim's Tale in Syria: Imprisonment, Individualism, and Liberalism
Sune Haugbolle

12. Spectacles of Death: Dignity, Dissent, and Sacrifice in Turkey's Prisons
Banu Bargu

13. Refusing Mercy: Challenging the State's Monopoly on Violence in Iran
Arzoo Osanloo

14. Locating Dissent: Space, Law, and Protest in Jordan
Jillian Schwedler and Sam Fayyaz

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