Social Justice in Liberal Thought, Studies of Nationalism, and Linguistics and Lexicography: Three New Titles from the ACRPS

The ACRPS has recently published three new books that spotlight the breadth and depth of its research agenda. Towards an Arabic Historical Dictionary (439 pages) is introduced by Azmi Bishara’s “A Challenge to Inspire a Nation,” and addresses urgent issues in contemporary linguistics, such as the compilation of a seminal corpus that acts as the backbone and the design and use of software for lexical analysis. The book considers methodologies of historical-etymological dictionaries, particularly those of August Fischer (1865-1949). The product of a collective effort by researchers and linguists from Lebanon, Syria, Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia, this volume demonstrates the importance of the task the ACRPS has taken upon itself, including the formation of an academic board chaired by Ramzi Baalbaki. Working from within the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies, the Doha Historical Dictionary of the Arabic Language intends for this book to address some of the shortcomings of lexicography as it exists in Arabic compared to other living languages, such as English. Contributors to this volume include: Bassam Baraka, Hamid al-Sahli, Hassan Hamzeh, Rachid Belhabib, Abdulhaq al-Khawaja, Abdulrazzaq Bannour, Abdulaziz al-Hameed, Abdulali Alwadgheeri, Abdulmajeed Benhamado, Abdulmohsen Althubaiti, Ezzedine Albouchikhi, Ezzedine Mazroui, Awdeh Abu Awdeh, Mohammed Riqaas, Mohammed al-Obeidi, Mohammed Ouldbabah, and Almuatizbillah Taha.

 

 

In Constitutional Social Justice in Contemporary Liberal Political Thought: The Case of Rawls (358 pages), Palestinian scholar Mohammad Uthman Mahmoud discusses Rawls’ understanding of the constitutional underpinnings of justice. Rawls differentiates between liberalism as a political philosophy founded upon the ideas of justice and fairness, and liberalism as a broad, all-inclusive philosophy. The author also addresses Rawls’ important contribution to rooting political life in the solid ground of ethics, in contradistinction to pragmatism.  He then offers an in depth examination of the relationship between liberty and equality, agreeing with Rawls that the latter is both a moral obligation and something that can be constitutionally decreed. The book offers a rich reading on the concept of equality, which in Mahmoud’s view supports state intervention in the distribution of wealth, without jeopardizing or abandoning the principle of freedom.

In the third publication, Azmi Bishara writes the preface to a re-printed Arabic translation of Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (384 pages). In his introduction to the text, translated by the ACRPS’s Thaer Deeb, Bishara weighs in with his knowledge of Arab nationalism to make a distinction between “imagined” and “imaginary”; the former, Bishara points out, can have tangible and very real results and effects. The text itself, in which Anderson uses examples from East Asia and Latin America to show how an imagined community gives rise to political realities and a nation, is firmly established as an indispensable modern-day classic for the study of nationalism. Making it available in Arabic through this ACRPS publication will allow Arab scholars of nationalism to examine how museums, a shared language, typography, cartography, geography, and a collective memory have all contributed to the rise of nationalism.

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