The Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies has published its first English-language journal, adding to several peer reviewed Arabic language academic journals, covering topics within the social sciences and humanities. On May 26, 2018, the ACPSR released AlMuntaqa, bringing Arab research closer to a global scholarly audience. Readers in the English-speaking world will be able to access publications from the largest and widest ranging existing network of Arab social scientists, translated into English for ease of access. AlMuntaqa will feature a selection of interdisciplinary articles that reflect the most pressing issues in the Arab world, complementing the ACRPS's other peer-reviewed journals, Siyasat Arabiya (Political Science), Omran (Sociology), Ostour (Historical Studies), and Tabayyun (Philosophy and Cultural Studies).
AlMuntaqa is published tri-annually, and contains peer-reviewed research by Arab scholars and academics. Through this research, the journal aims to disseminate Arabic knowledge production and to build an interactive network of connections with the global community of non-Arabic speaking academics and researchers. Through this journal, the Arab Center aims to share its accumulation of knowledge from the Arab region over eight years, in line with its other journals, academic conferences, and its publications. It will provide carefully selected research papers based on novel field work, and the use of primary materials and sources in the Arab world inaccessible to an English audience, for translation and publication in English. The research AlMuntaqa is based on a deep and contextualized knowledge of the Arab world and its complexities. While academic research in the Arab region is a challenge for social science researchers, it is also an opportunity to develop new theories and hypotheses in these sciences, especially given that the major social and political transformations taking place in the Arab region represent a living academic laboratory.
Through its research, AlMuntaqa aspires to make a serious contribution to the development of new schools and methodologies in the social sciences. It is expected that the studies will make an important contribution to global academic debates through the introduction of new approaches to the social sciences that can be used to evaluate, critique and deepen theories and hypotheses that pertain to the Arab world. The journal is available for direct access and can be downloaded without a subscription to expand the utilization of the Arab Center's published research.
The first edition of the journal contains "The Army and Political Power in the Arab Context: Theoretical Issues," by Azmi Bishara. Bishara examines the historical roots and dynamics of civil-military relations in Arab countries where the military played a particularly dominant role in the political process. It also contains Adel al-Shargabi's 2013 article "The Restructuring of the Yemeni Army," which serves as a relevant reminder that periods of regime transition are fickle and that restructuring an army is a particularly risky endeavor that could collapse without notice. In "The Ottoman Tanzimat and the Constitution," Wajih Kawtharani, a historian and expert of the Ottoman period, details how the "sick man of Europe" sought to avoid European encroachment and its own implosion due to internal strife through a series of modernizing reforms. Detailing how this process led to the modern birth and the constitution that the Ottoman Tanzimat promulgated formed "a critical juncture in Arab and Islamic history, and the cornerstone for modern constitutional thought in the region." Speaking on colonialism in her paper "Criminals or Martyrs? Let the Courts Decide! -British Colonial Legacy in Palestine," Rana Barakat examines the British mandate period in Palestine (1919-1948) and the system of laws and legal procedures constructed to "control their colony and reinforce a particular and effective method of power that forms the basis of these echoes in the contemporary Palestinian-Israeli context." Finally, in "The Welfare State in Egypt, 1995-2005: A Comparative Approach," Ahmed Ezz Eldin Mohamed utilizes the typology of welfare state regimes developed by Esping-Andersen to classify Egypt as a "conservative/informal" regime, where social benefits are tied to employment in the formal sector.
To follow up the research articles, AlMuntaqa introduces the ACRPS' Arab Opinion Index. The Arab Opinion Index is the largest, most comprehensive public opinion polling project in the Arab world to date and is headed by a team of specialist statisticians, and experts in survey methods. A staple feature of AlMuntaqa will be a study that aims to demonstrate how the Arab Opinion Index can be utilized in the social sciences. In this issue, Dana El Kurd shows the various state capacity measurements that can be developed using the Arab Opinion Index data. She then demonstrates how state capacity measures can be created in a new light, according to citizen perceptions in addition to material measures. Such a contribution will undoubtedly add both to the debate on this issue, as well as our understanding of the measures of state capacity and the limits of relying only on material measures.
Finally, AlMuntaqa includes two book reviews. In this issue, it includes reviews on The Revival of Japan in the Meiji Period from an Arab-Islamic Perspective ( by Ahmed Al-Makkawi and reviewed by Aziz Al Arabawi) and The Formation of Modern Iraq: Society, Culture and Domestic and Foreign Influence (by Mohamed Jabbar Ibrahim al-Jammal and reviewed by Samir Abdul Rasoul al-Obaidy).
The magazine is available in open access format through JSTOR and can be accessed here https://www.jstor.org/journal/almuntaqa .