29 April 2014

Books by SISMEC

Pick up a copy of these outstanding books by our SISMEC researchers and academic affiliates, advancing the cause of rigorous yet independent research and analysis (click on the pictures to be directed to their Amazon page). To keep up-to-date on SISMEC’s editorial and journal publications, click here.


"Load Poems Like Guns," Farzana Marie. Holy Cow! Press, 7 April 2015.

“Load Poems Like Guns,” Farzana Marie. Holy Cow! Press, 7 April 2015.


Compiled, translated and edited by SISMEC researcher Farzana Marie, Load Poems Like Guns is a groundbreaking collection of poetry from eight contemporary Afghan women poets from Herat–the ancient epicenter of literature and the arts.

The collection features Farzana’s English translations en face with the original Persian Dari text and includes an insightful forward to help readers contextualize the work and its significance.

The Diplomat Magazine review of the book is available here.



"Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring," Dr. Leila Hudson.  Palgrave Macmillan, 10 December 2014.

“Media Evolution on the Eve of the Arab Spring,” Dr. Leila Hudson. Palgrave Macmillan, 10 December 2014.


In this volume, edited by SISMEC Director Leila Hudson, leading scholars of Arab media come together to offer unparalleled insight into the communication environment that preceded the political and societal ruptures that shook the Arab world 2010-2011. Examining the role of competing publics, the state’s ability to construct meaning, and social and political change in the region, they unsettle oversimplifications of much of the existing literature and examine numerous precipitating conditions, including, political stagnation, civil engagement, new media, rural and urban divides, Islamist blogospheres, video games, Turkish and Syrian dramas, mediated diplomacy, and diaspora. An introduction is available here.




Letters to War and Lethe,” Farzana Marie. Finishing Line Press, 12 September 2014.


In this collection of poems, SISMEC Researcher Farzana Marie presents a novel vision of war and its terrible aftermath, upsetting platitudes and assumptions about those who fight, what they remember, and who speaks for them–drawing from her years of experience as a woman soldier deployed to Afghanistan. An essential addition to the literature of war and remembrance.







"Building on Nietzsche's Prelude: Reforming Epistemology for the Philosophy of the Future," Musa al-Gharbi. Universal Publishers, 20 March 2014.

“Building on Nietzsche’s Prelude: Reforming Epistemology for the Philosophy of the Future,” Musa al-Gharbi. Universal Publishers, 20 March 2014.


Torture is ineffective. Game Theory is a pipe-dream. Most predictions are bunk by necessity (and most forecasters, charlatans). The narratives which frame contemporary events are often ill-formed, rendering public discourse hollow—as a subset, talk about universal values (or universalized social arrangements to promote those values) is empty and often pernicious.

Musa al-Gharbi’s work with SISMEC is (in)famous for its unrelenting and incisive critiques; while superficially disparate, his entire corpus turns on questions of social epistemology. In Building on Nietzsche’s Prelude, al-Gharbi lays out the intellectual foundations for his contemporary research in geopolitics and his forthcoming theological canon–the first part of his larger project to deconstruct the so-called “Enlightenment” and those ideologies and institutions derived therefrom. An introduction to the work is available here.


“Talking to Strangers: The Struggle to Rebuild Iraq’s Foreign Ministry,” Ambassadors Ghassan Muhsin Hussein & David Dunford. Southwestern College Academic Press, 2013.


This book was co-authored by an Iraqi (Ghassan Muhsin Hussein) and an American (SISMEC Advisory Board Member, David Dunford)–both professional diplomats caught up in the chaos of Baghdad following the American invasion of Iraq. They came together in late April of 2003 at the looted and burned Foreign Ministry and worked to get the Ministry up and running.

In Talking to Strangers, their personal stories unfold against the backdrop of events familiar to all who followed the news in Iraqi in 2003: the switch in U.S. civilian leadership from Jay Gardner to Jerry Bremer, the May 16 de-Ba’athification decree and the steady unraveling of the security situation.

A conversation about the book–between Ambassador Dunford and SISMEC researcher Christina Sciabarra–is available here.


"Hearts for Sale! A Buyer's Guide to Winning in Afghanistan," Farzana Marie. Civil Vision International, 29 March 2013.

“Hearts for Sale! A Buyer’s Guide to Winning in Afghanistan,” Farzana Marie. Civil Vision International, 29 March 2013.

In a powerful blend of story and strategic insight, SISMEC researcher Farzana Marie provides a unique and timely perspective on the conflict in Afghanistan–drawing on over ten years of personal connection with Afghanistan, including two years deployed as a U.S. Air Force officer, to urge clear thinking and action in the national interests of both the United States and Afghanistan.  Arguing that it is not too late for humble, victorious partnership with Afghanistan, Hearts for Sale! advocates a vision-oriented, rather than numbers-oriented U.S. policy approach that honors the profound sacrifices made and heeds the desires of informed citizens.

In these pages, Farzana tells true stories of her engagement team’s 350 plus missions around Afghanistan, including a near-miss motorcycle accident, a gutsy trip to the Panjshir Valley to visit Massoud’s grave, an unusual ceremony at the Governor’s mansion in Herat, the infamous “bread incident,” and “Lunch with the Taliban.”  Placing these stories in the context of poorly understood realities about the conflict in Afghanistan, Farzana clarifies why Americans should care about what happens there, makes the resounding case for the possibility of positive outcomes, and gives clear recommendations for how to achieve them; an excerpt and précis are available here.

100% of the proceeds of this book will be donated to charities that support peace, stability, and freedom in conflict regions.


"Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco," Dr. Aomar Boum. Stanford University Press, 16 October 2013.

“Memories of Absence: How Muslims Remember Jews in Morocco,” Dr. Aomar Boum. Stanford University Press, 16 October 2013.


There is a Moroccan saying: A market without Jews is like bread without salt.

Once a thriving community, by the late 1980s, 240,000 Jews had emigrated from Morocco. Today, fewer than 4,000 Jews remain. Despite a centuries-long presence, the Jewish narrative in Moroccan history has largely been suppressed through national historical amnesia, Jewish absence, and a growing dismay over the Palestinian conflict.

Memories of Absence investigates how four successive generations remember the lost Jewish community. Moroccan attitudes toward the Jewish population have changed over the decades, and a new debate has emerged at the center of the Moroccan nation: Where does the Jew fit in the context of an Arab and Islamic monarchy? Can Jews simultaneously be Moroccans and Zionists?

Drawing on oral testimony and stories, on rumor and humor, SISMEC Academic Affiliate Dr. Aomar Boum examines the strong shift in opinion and attitude over the generations and increasingly anti-Semitic beliefs in younger people, whose only exposure to Jews has been through international media and national memory.


“On the Development of Insurgency and Counterinsurgency in Iraq, 2003-2012,” Colin S. Owens. Amazon Digital Services, Inc., 1 December 2012.


In Insurgency & Counterinsurgency in Iraq, SISMEC Alumnus Colin Owens investigates the development of the Iraqi insurgency and counterinsurgency strategies developed in the aftermath of the 2003 invasion.

There is an extensive body of literature that details the lead up to war and its misrepresentation by the U.S. administration and media. Moving beyond the focus of most of the literature on Iraq, Owens analyses the military component of the war, both from the U.S. and Iraqi points of view–the goal is to illustrate how the Iraqi insurgencies and the U.S. military adapted to one another, producing the outcomes we see today.


“Agricultural Development Strategies: the Saudi experience,” Dr. Turki Faisal al-Rasheed. LAP LAMBERT Academic Publishing, 6 January 2012.


Due to concerns about the issue of scarcity of water, soaring food prices, population growth, high unemployment, environmental degradation, and reductions in arable land, combined with the effects of urbanization, economic development and security concerns, the Saudi government introduced combative measures from self-sufficiency to deflationary policy in wheat production.

In Agricultural Development Strategies, SISMEC Advisory Board Member Dr. Turki Faisal al-Rasheed demonstrates that these measures–which were aimed at ensuring food security, alleviating poverty, and promoting economic growth–were actually having a negative effect on many aspects of agriculture in Saudi Arabia, including the downsizing of huge farms; closure of small agricultural companies; and bankruptcy businesses in related areas such as agricultural machinery and animal health.


“Middle Eastern Humanities: An Introduction to the Cultures of the Middle East,” Dr. Leila Hudson. Kendall Hunt Publishing, 23 August 2010.

“Middle Eastern Humanities: An Introduction to the Cultures of the Middle East,” Dr. Leila Hudson. Kendall Hunt Publishing, 23 August 2010.

Middle Eastern Humanities combines the guided, step-by-step and interactive style of a textbook with a sophisticated and sympathetic approach to the cultural logics of tradition and innovation of the Middle East–useful for teachers, students, as well as those educating themselves about this critical region of the world.

Each chapter starts with an introduction by SISMEC’s Director, Leila Hudson, who writes and teaches about Syria, Islam, nationalism, gender, media and popular culture. Each chapter then includes readings by Middle Eastern and Western scholars, journalists and historical actors to deepen the point. An accompanying website will supplement each chapter with links to relevant news items and journalistic or multimedia features. Finally, study or discussion questions prompt the reader to apply the material to practical situations.

The book is divided into sections on methodology (the value of a humanities approach and debunking stereotypes), diversity and environment (geography, food and diverse lifestyles), Islam (its origins, practices and beliefs, family life and durabilities and vulnerabilities as a social system), cultural expressions (literature, art, science, music and dance traditions) and current hybrids (electronic media and popular culture in predominantly young societies).


"Transforming Damascus: Space and Modernity in an Islamic City," Dr. Leila Hudson. Tauris Academic Studies, 14 October 2008.

“Transforming Damascus: Space and Modernity in an Islamic City,” Dr. Leila Hudson. Tauris Academic Studies, 14 October 2008.


In 1860 Damascus was a sleepy provincial capital of the weakening Ottoman Empire, a city defined in terms of its relationship to the holy places of Islam in the Arabian Hijaz and its legacy of Islamic knowledge. Yet by 1918 Damascus had become a seat of Arab nationalism and a would-be modern state capital. How can this metamorphosis be explained?

Here, SISMEC Director Leila Hudson describes the transformation of Damascus.

Within a couple of generations the city changed from little more than a way-station on the Islamic pilgrimage routes that had defined the city’s place for over a millennium. Its citizens and notables now seized the opportunities made available through transport technology on the eastern Mediterranean coast and in the European economy. Shifts in marriage patterns, class, education and power ensued. But just when the city’s destiny seemed irrevocably linked to the Mediterranean world and economy, World War I literally starved the urban centre of Damascus and empowered its Bedouin hinterland. The consequences shaped Syria for the rest of the twentieth century and beyond.