The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published the fourth instalment of Almuntaqa — the peer-reviewed English-language journal dedicated to the social sciences and humanities, successfully rounding off its first year of publication. The journal continues to offer a range of studies and reviews published by the center and translated for English speakers.
The studies section opens with the article, "The New Arab Urban: Test Beds, Work-arounds, and the Limits of Enacted Cities" by Harvey Molotch and Davide Ponzini. The paper refutes the use of Gulf cities to make value judgments, arguing that these cities provide a new model for understanding urbanization trends, while keeping in mind the limits of financial capacity and authority to create these cities. The second contribution is Tariq Madani's "The Historian and Quantitative Approaches: Demographic Studies of Islamic Cities". The study examines the stages of the development of quantitative history through its main scholars and schools, then presents some statistical innovations and methods to estimate the inhabitants and populations of some Islamic cities throughout history. The study concludes by warning against the arbitrary and non-critical use of quantitative methods in history. This issue also includes a translation of Azmi Bishara's keynote lecture "On the Precedence of Understanding Over Method," which opened the Seventh Conference on the Social Sciences and Humanities Conference. The theme for the seventh conference was Research Methodologies.
The third study, "The Kurdish Movement in the Arab World: The Syrian Kurds as a Case Study," by Mohannad Al-Kati, fills an important gap for the Western scholar, offering an Arab perspective on the Kurdish political movement in the Arab world. The final article, "Iraqi Shi'is and the Pressure of Religious Identity: An Attempt to Determine the Meaning of Shi'i Identity" by Haider Saeed explores Iraqi Shi'i identity and the role of the modern nation-state, and later introduces the idea of transnational primordial identities as an alternative and thus a competitor to national identity.
The next section, devoted to the Arab Opinion Index, features an article titled, "An Arab Assessment of Iranian Foreign Policy" by Dana El Kurd, which utilizes the results of the Arab Opinion Index to understand the Arab public's view of the Iranian role in the Arab region. Finally, this edition includes Rabhi Radwan's review of
History of Minorities in the Far Maghreb: The Case of Christians during the Middle Ages by El Hasan Laghraib and Nadim Mansouri's review of
The Virtual and the Revolution: The Place of the Internet in the Emergence of an Arab Civil Society by Jawhar al-Jamusi.