The Political Economy Project (PEP) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2017 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. With this prize, PEP aims to recognize and disseminate exceptional critical work on the political economy of the Middle East. For its inaugural award, the selection committee welcomed nominations for books on political economy published between 2014-2016 from a range of publishers and across academic disciplines. After reviewing a dozen submissions, the 2017 selection committee recognizes two co-winners for their original contributions to critical political economy research:
Hanan Hammad’s Industrial Sexuality: Gender, Urbanization, and Social Transformation in Egypt (University of Texas Press)
Johan Mathew’s Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism across the Arabian Sea (University of California Press)
Hanan Hammad's Industrial Sexuality: Gender, Urbanization, and Social Transformation in Egypt is wondrous scholarship: imaginative in its use of historical sources, textured in its presentation of these sources, sensitive in its conjugating the empirical and theoretical materials, deeply grounded in theoretical debates about work, gender, and sexuality. At the same time, it is lucidly written and immensely readable. The discussion of the ways in which men and women lived, loved, worked, had sex, and struggled politically in Mahallat al-Kubra in Egypt is informed by thoughtful and imaginative scholarship that takes seriously questions of class, gender, and sexuality. But the work is also shaped by a deep knowledge of the context of these workers' daily practices and extraordinary contestations.
Johan Mathew's Margins of the Market: Trafficking and Capitalism Across the Arabian Sea is a fascinating, immensely readable, and insightful historical account of trafficking across the Indian Ocean. The work looks at how arms, slaves, and coins were transported across the seas, and the ways in which state and imperial interception of these movements were crucial to the creation of the categories of licit and illicit as well as to the making of British imperial power overseas. In constructing his analytic narrative, Matthew makes use of a near-overwhelming number of sources, ranging in the type of documents, their languages, and their repositories. By emphasizing the entangled histories and practices that produce markets and spaces of exchange and circulation, he has contributed not just to the political economy of the Middle East, but to the historiography of capitalism more generally.