The Press celebrates the publication of its 100th book in Middle East Studies.
To commemorate the publication of our 100th book in Middle East Studies we’re taking a look back on the first 10 years of our publishing program on the region. Celebrate the milestone with us—take 30% off our first 100 books in Middle East Studies between June 13 – 24! Browse the sale »
Ten years and 100 books ago, Kate Wahl started the Middle East Studies program at Stanford University Press—a list that, today, boasts a strong reputation in the field. But only a decade ago, the Middle East was scarcely represented in the Press’s publishing program, making cameos only at the intersections of other subject areas. Scholars writing on the Middle East who signed book contracts with the Press during the earlier stages of the Middle East Studies program passed on publishing with more established lists in the field, entrusting their work instead to a nascent program with a new vision for how to think and write about the region.
“I’m grateful to everyone who had a hand in launching our Middle East Studies program—for all the authors who trusted us with their projects, then and now,” says Wahl.
“I’m grateful to everyone who had a hand in launching our Middle East Studies program."
A decade after its debut the broad vision that contoured the list at its inception continues to guide the program, while the community around the books has grown in leaps and bounds. Over the years Wahl has brought together dedicated writers and thinkers who, working from varied disciplinary approaches, have explored a wide spectrum of social, political, and cultural concerns of the modern Middle East. They, along with an engaged network of readers, reviewers, and editorial board members (many of whom become authors themselves), have furnished the Press with a compelling collection of books in tight conversation with one another, the broader academic disciplines of which they are a part, and ever-shifting world events writ large.
“The Middle East is an important region, and we’re publishing on it at a critical time—a responsibility I take very seriously,” says Wahl, who began the list to fill what she perceived as a gap in the existing narratives that swirled around the region, particularly post-9/11. As Western interest in the Middle East swelled, quick-to-press books covering each new tragedy, clash, and coup cropped up on bookstore shelves and Goodreads queues. The traditional mission of university presses—to curate new knowledge, exploring broad intellectual questions and bringing more expert and marginalized views to the fore—struck Wahl as an essential yet relatively underrepresented strand of this new generation of writing on the Middle East.
“I work to avoid having a list driven by current events,” says Wahl, for whom well-thought-out reflection takes precedence over journalistic urgency. “Our books do often have a currency to them, but also a sophistication and a certain distance—the goal is to publish books that are both meaningful today and will endure on the shelves for years to come.”
True to intent, the list has matured well over the last decade, and Wahl has also begun to explore new narrative forms and approaches. The list has broadened its purview—publishing experimental and literary fiction, a definitive textbook on the modern Middle East, a series of essay-length works in the Press’s Briefs imprint, and meta-commentary on the field itself.
This week, with the publication of Mostafa Minawi’s The Ottoman Scramble for Africa, the Press formally marks the 100th publication in its Middle East Studies list. Asked what the milestone means to her, Wahl says, “It’s nice to stop and acknowledge the moment—but mostly this landmark spurs me on to say, ‘what’s next?’”
The first 100 books in the Middle East Studies list, by the numbers.