September 2019

Late-breaking news: We have just been made aware of a past award made to one of our papers:

from the Association for Spanish & Portuguese Historical Studies. Congratulations! 

Congratulations to CSSH co-authors Julien Brachet and Judith Scheele on the publication of their new book, The Value of Disorder: Autonomy, Prosperity, and Plunder in the Chadian Sahara (Cambridge University Press, 2019). The book contains one co-authored chapter based on the authors’ CSSH article, “Fleeting Glory in a Wasteland: Wealth, Politics, and Autonomy in Northern Chad” (57-3, 2015). Cambridge UP summarizes the book as follows:

Despite being central to the development of Saharan regional connectivity, northern Chad has been closed to researchers since the late 1960s and thus remains virtually unknown to scholarship. Based on long-term fieldwork, The Value of Disorder is an original and in-depth account of the area and its Tubu majority inhabitants. Julien Brachet and Judith Scheele examine trans-border connectivity and trade; civil war and rebellion; wealth creation and dispersal; labour and gender relations; and aspirations to moral autonomy in northern Chad from an internal point of view – a point of view that in turn participates in a dynamic process of regional interdependence. Vividly ethnographic, the book gives precedence to local categories of value, while asking broader questions about the nature of non-state regional political organisation. Questions that inform current political developments in the Sahara more widely, and have the potential to challenge key concepts in Saharan studies and the social sciences.”

Congratulations to CSSH author Walter Armbrust (“The Trickster in Egypt’s January 25th Revolution,” 55-4, 2013) on the publication of his new ethnography, Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (Princeton University Press, 2019). Princeton UP describes the book as follows:

An important look at the hopeful rise and tragic defeat of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011

The Egyptian Revolution of 2011 began with immense hope, but was defeated in two and a half years, ushering in the most brutal and corrupt regime in modern Egyptian history. How was the passage from utmost euphoria into abject despair experienced, not only by those committed to revolutionary change, but also by people indifferent or even hostile to the revolution? In Martyrs and Tricksters, anthropologist and Cairo resident Walter Armbrust explores the revolution through the lens of liminality—initially a communal fellowship, where everything seemed possible, transformed into a devastating limbo with no exit. To make sense of events, Armbrust looks at the martyrs, trickster media personalities, public spaces, contested narratives, historical allusions, and factional struggles during this chaotic time.

Armbrust shows that while martyrs became the primary symbols of mobilization, no one took seriously enough the emergence of political tricksters. Tricksters appeared in media—not the vaunted social media of a “Facebook revolution” but television—and they paved the way for the rise of Abd al-Fattah al-Sisi. In the end Egypt became a global political vanguard, but not in the way the revolutionaries intended. What initially appeared as the gateway to an age of revolution has transformed the world over into the age of the trickster.

Delving into how Egyptians moved from unprecedented exhilaration to confusion and massacre, Martyrs and Tricksters is a powerful cultural biography of a tragic revolution.”