Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms
Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East
Basic Books 2014
New Books in AnthropologyNew Books in Middle Eastern StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in ReligionNew Books in Religion & FaithNew Books Network September 21, 2015 Mark Calder
In this interview Gerard Russell talks about his vivid and timely new book Heirs to Forgotten Kingdoms: Journeys Into the Disappearing Religions of the Middle East (Basic Books, 2014). Russell’s experience as a British diplomat in a rapidly changing region gives the book remarkable breadth, providing a valuable insight into the lives of minority communities from the Afghanistan-Pakistan border to Egypt: Mandaeans, Yazidis, Zoroastrians, Druze, Samaritans, Copts and Kalasha. Russell’s account pays particular attention to the circulation of stories, symbols and practices between these groups and reveals a history or extraordinary diversity and interdependence. His journey through this symbolic ecosystem, struggling to survive in its lands of origin, leads him eventually to diaspora communities in America and Europe. Is this the final domain of these forgotten kingdoms?
Gerard Russell’s account of these colorful pasts, precarious presents and unknown futures will be of interest to scholars of religion, culture, the Middle East, and a wider non-specialist readership.