2017

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Winning Titles

Ilker Evrim Binbaş 
Intellectual networks in Timurid Iran. Sharaf al-Din ‘Ali Yazdi and the Islamic Republic of letters  (Cambridge University Press) 

By focusing on the works and intellectual network of the Timurid historian Sharaf al Dīn 'Alī Yazdī (d.1454), this book presents a holistic view of intellectual life in fifteenth century Iran. İlker Evrim Binbaş argues that the intellectuals in this period formed informal networks which transcended political and linguistic boundaries, and spanned an area from the western fringes of the Ottoman State to bustling late medieval metropolises such as Cairo, Shiraz, and Samarkand. The network included an Ottoman revolutionary, a Mamluk prophet, and a Timurid occultist, as well as physicians, astronomers, devotees of the secret sciences, and those political figures who believed that the network was a force to be taken seriously. Also discussing the formation of an early modern Islamicate republic of letters, this book offers fresh insights on the study of intellectual history beyond the limitations imposed by nationalist methodologies, established genres, and recognized literary traditions.

‘This is a highly original work that makes a massive contribution to understanding the political and religious dynamics of the early Timurid period. It is based on an impressive array of sources in Arabic, Persian and Turkish, many still in manuscript and relatively unknown; their contents are often arcane and difficult to understand, but the author has read widely and closely and has an eye for telling details.’ Anonymous reviewer
 

Joas Wagemakers
Salafism in Jordan: Political Islam in a Quietist Community  (Cambridge University Press)

Since the events of 9/11, Salafism in the Middle East has often been perceived as fixed, rigid and even violent, but this assumption overlooks the quietist ideology that characterises many Salafi movements. Through an exploration of Salafism in Jordan, Joas Wagemakers presents the diversity among quietist Salafis on a range of ideological and political issues, particularly their relationship with the state. He expounds a detailed analysis of Salafism as a whole, whilst also showing how and why quietist Salafism in Jordan - through ideological tendencies, foreign developments, internal conflicts, regime involvement, theological challenges and regional turmoil - transformed from an independent movement into a politically domesticated one. Essential for graduate students and academic researchers interested in Middle Eastern politics and Salafism, this major contribution to the study of Salafism debunks stereotypes and offers insight into the development of a trend that still remains a mystery to many.

‘Salafism in Jordan is a well-researched and detailed survey of the Salafi phenomenon in one of the Middle East’s less studied countries, Jordan. Wagemakers writes from an Islamic Studies perspective and conveys a deep understanding of, and respect for, the Salafi intellectual milieu.’ 
Anonymous reviewer
 

Runner up

Lisa Cooper
In Search of Kings and Conquerors: Gertrude Bell and the Archaeology of the Middle East
(IB Tauris)

At the height of her career, Bell journeyed into the heart of the Middle East retracing the steps of the ancient rulers who left tangible markers of their presence in the form of castles, palaces, mosques, tombs and temples. Among the many sites she visited were Ephesus, Binbirkilise and Carchemish in modern-day Turkey as well as Ukhaidir, Babylon and Najaf within the borders of modern Iraq. Lisa Cooper here explores Bell's achievements, emphasizing the tenacious, inquisitive side of her extraordinary personality, the breadth of her knowledge and her overall contribution to the archaeology of the Middle East. Featuring many of Bell's own photographs, this is a unique portrait of a remarkable life.