In the wake of the uprisings throughout the Middle East in late 2010 and early 2011, the role of Islamist parties in the political process has taken on a new importance.But counter to the commonly held belief in the West that Islamist groups aim to challenge the authority of the state itself, both Islah of Yemen and Hizbollah in Lebanon are political organisations, with aspirations to work with and through state structures. In this book, Stacey Philbrick Yadav highlights how once these Islamist organisations became part of the institutionalised and formalised state apparatus,Islamist participation can instead stengthen the state. She therefore examines the meanings that the members of the parties attach to their relationship to existing regimes and the state institutions through which power is distributed and exercised. Of course, gaps in state planning allow these two parties unique opportunities to take on some of the responsibilities of the state. This has been especially prominent in the case of Hizballah, which sought to position itself as a provider of welfare at a time when the Lebanese state, brought low by civil war, could not carry out this service.
But what Philbrick Yadav sees as crucial is that there is something other than 'Islam' that determines the political positions of the two Islamist parties under exmination: more pragmatic and material imperatives. In the wake of the uprisings throughout the Middle East in late 2010 and early 2011, the role of Islamist parties in the political process has taken on a new importance. Islamists and the State questions conventionally uniform expectations regarding 'Islamist party behaviour' and gives precedence to the role of local structure and context when analysing the ativities of these parties. Philbrick Yadav argues that the participation of Islamist parties should be evaluated in terms of local contexts, not cross-national speculations about the effects of 'Islamism' as a regional or global phenomenon. Islamist, long assumed to be the primary drivers of opposition politics, are thus central to political uprisings, but not always in the ways that observers might have anticipated, nor with the kind of uncontested dominance aimed at or capable of overturning regimes.
Stacey Philbrick Yadav is Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, New York. She holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Pennsylvania.
‘Stacey Philbrick Yadav’s masterful study of Islamist political parties turns the inclusion-moderation debate on its head: instead of exploring the ways in which state structures may lead Islamist parties to moderate, she illustrates that how Islamists contest the meanings of concepts significant to local debates can itself reshape institutions and call forth new forms of political relations. Drawing on extensive original field research, her comparison of Yemen’s Islah and Lebanon’s Hizballah shows that actors engage in and rely upon discourses and concepts absent from most scholarly studies (such as takfir and takhwin), while concepts central to western debates (such as pluralism, moderation and inclusion) are seldom points of reference in local debates. This must-read study is among the most original and important interventions into debates about Islamist politics in at least a decade.’
Jillian Schwedler, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd.
Series: Library of Modern Middle East StudiesHardback
Publication Date: 29 Apr 2013
Number of Pages: 320
Illustrations: 6 bw integrated