2015

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Winning Title

Pascal Menoret
Joy Riding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt   (Cambridge University Press)

Why do young Saudis, night after night, joyride and skid cars on Riyadh's avenues? Who are these 'drifters' who defy public order and private property? What drives their revolt? Based on four years of fieldwork in Riyadh, Pascal Menoret's Joyriding in Riyadh explores the social fabric of the city and connects it to Saudi Arabia's recent history. Car drifting emerged after Riyadh was planned, and oil became the main driver of the economy. For young rural migrants, it was a way to reclaim alienating and threatening urban spaces. For the Saudi state, it jeopardized its most basic operations: managing public spaces and enforcing law and order. A police crackdown soon targeted car drifting, feeding a nation-wide moral panic led by religious activists who framed youth culture as a public issue. This book retraces the politicization of Riyadh youth and shows that, far from being a marginal event, car drifting is embedded in the country's social violence and economic inequality.

‘Joy Riding in Riyadh is truly a joy to read [please forgive the pun].  Inspired by wide scholarship on youth and urbanisation, Menoret offers a unique contribution to the field.  His book is a great example of being close to the interlocutors and distant enough to capture their outlook’
Anonymous reviewer

Runners up

Christina Riggs
Unwrapping Ancient Egypt   (Bloomsbury)

In ancient Egypt, wrapping sacred objects, including mummified bodies, in layers of cloth was a ritual that lay at the core of Egyptian society. Yet in the modern world, attention has focused instead on unwrapping all the careful arrangements of linen textiles the Egyptians had put in place.

This book breaks new ground by looking at the significance of textile wrappings in ancient Egypt, and at how their unwrapping has shaped the way we think about the Egyptian past. Wrapping mummified bodies and divine statues in linen reflected the cultural values attached to this textile, with implications for understanding gender, materiality and hierarchy in Egyptian society. Unwrapping mummies and statues similarly reflects the values attached to Egyptian antiquities in the West, where the colonial legacies of archaeology, Egyptology and racial science still influence how Egypt appears in museums and the press.

 

Yonatan Mendel
The Creation of Israeli Arabic   (Palgrave Macmillan)

This book sheds light on the ways in which the on-going Israeli-Arab conflict has shaped Arabic language instruction. Due to its interdisciplinary nature it will be of great interest to academics and researchers in security and middle eastern studies as well as those focused on language and linguistics.