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New Books from MEC Faculty

June 3, 2024

Reading Across Borders by Aria Fani

Contrary to the presumption that literary nationalism in the Global South emerged through contact with Europe alone, Reading across Borders demonstrates how the cultural forms of Iran and Afghanistan as nation-states arose from their shared Persian heritage and cross-cultural exchange in the twentieth century. In this book, Aria Fani charts the individuals, institutions, and conversations that made this exchange possible, detailing the dynamic and interconnected ways Afghans and Iranians invented their modern selves through new ideas about literature.

Aria Fani

Aria Fani

Fani illustrates how voluntary and state-funded associations of readers helped formulate and propagate “literature” as a recognizable notion, adapting and changing Persian concepts to fit this modern idea. Focusing on early twentieth-century periodicals with readers in Afghan and Iranian cities and their diaspora, Fani exposes how nationalism intensified—rather than severed—cultural contact among two Persian-speaking societies amidst the diverging and competing demands of their respective nation-states. This interconnected history was ultimately forgotten, shaping many of the cultural disputes between Iran and Afghanistan today.

Zaatari: Culinary Traditions of the World’s Largest Syrian Refugee Camp by Karen Fisher

Karen E. Fisher

As an embedded field researcher with UNHCR Jordan, Fisher’s focus is supporting indigenous culture/identity, innovation, entrepreneurship and livelihoods against the effects of domicide. Comprising 130 recipes, stories and poetry, “Zaatari: Culinary Traditions of the World’s Largest Syrian Refugee Camp” was created over 6 years, co-designed with 2000+ refugees. Food photography was taken inside Zaatari Camp by Alex Lau (formerly of Bon Appetit) and background photography was by Syrians in camp. The royalties return to the people of Zaatari. Our book is the world’s first example of such a camp collective enterprise.

Strategic Water: Iraq and Security Planning in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin by Frederick Lorenz

Frederick (Rick) Lorenz

Frederick Lorenz

The issue of freshwater scarcity has always been of vital concern to humans, and today it is increasingly characterized as a strategic factor in security planning.  The United States has a long-term strategic interest in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin directly linked to the national interests of the riparian states, Turkey, Syria, Iran and Iraq. The 2023 expanded second edition of Strategic Water: Iraq and Security Planning in the Euphrates-Tigris Basin updates analysis of the geopolitical situation and expands coverage of the aspirations of the Basin countries. New chapters include Geography, the Kurds and Water, as well as Data, Science and Diplomacy.  Finally, the book presents new conclusions and a proposed framework for action in the next ten to twenty years.

The author recently retired from the Jackson School of International Studies at UW after teaching Water and Security in the Middle East for eighteen years.  He is currently working on a number of projects for the Public International Law and Policy Group including the training of prosecutors for war crimes committed in Ukraine.