Eileen Kane et al., "Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History" (Oxford UP, 2023)


The roots of the Arab world’s current Russian entanglements reach deep into the tsarist and Soviet periods. To explore those entanglements, Russian-Arab Worlds: A Documentary History (Oxford UP, 2023) presents and contextualizes a set of primary sources translated from Russian, Arabic, Armenian, Persian, French, and/or Tatar: a 1772 Russian naval officer’s diary, an Arabic slave sale deed from the Caucasus, an interview with a Russian-educated contemporary Syrian novelist, and many more. These archival, autobiographical, and literary sources, introduced by specialists and in some cases by pairs of scholars with complementary language expertise, highlight connections long obscured by disciplinary cleavages between Slavic and Middle East studies. Taken together, the thirty-four chapters of this book show how various Russian/Soviet and Arab governments sought to nurture political and cultural ties and expand their influence, often with unplanned results. They reveal the transnational networks of trade, pilgrimage, study, ethnic identity, and political affinity that state policies sometimes fostered and sometimes disrupted. Above all, they give voice to some of the resourceful characters who have embodied and exploited Arab-Russian contacts: missionaries and diplomats, soldiers and refugees, students and party activists, scholars and spies. A set of new maps helps orient readers amid the expansion and collapse of empires, border changes, population transfers, and creation of new nation-states that occurred during the two centuries these sources cover.

Eileen Kane teaches modern European history at Connecticut College, where she also directs the Program in Global Islamic Studies. A historian of imperial Russia and the Soviet Union, she is the author of Russian Hajj: Empire and the Pilgrimage to Mecca. She is the 2017 recipient of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship and is currently writing a history of Jewish and Muslim migrations from Russia to the Middle East.

Masha Kirasirova is assistant professor of history at New York University Abu Dhabi. She is a historian of exchanges between the Soviet Eurasia and the Middle East. She is finishing a book called The Eastern International: Culture, Power, and Politics in Soviet-Arab Relations. Her articles have appeared in Kritika: Explorations in Russian and Eurasian History, Ab Imperio, Iranian Studies, and Mediterranean Politics.

Margaret Litvin is associate professor of Arabic and comparative literature at Boston University. A historian of modern Arabic literature and its global ties, she is the author of Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost and the translator of Sonallah Ibrahim’s Arabic novel Ice, set in 1973 Moscow. Her current book project, Another East: Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams, reconstructs some literary legacies of Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet cultural ties during the long 20th century. She also writes about Arabic theatre for global audiences.

Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher.

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Tugrul Mende

Tugrul Mende holds an M.A in Arabic Studies. He is based in Berlin as a project coordinator and independent researcher.

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