Qifa Nabki [ˈki-fə ˈneb-kē] is a blog about Lebanese politics written by Elias Muhanna, the Manning Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Brown University and director of the Digital Islamic Humanities Project. He earned his PhD in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from Harvard University in 2012 was a fellow of the American Council of Learned Societies in 2015-16.
Muhanna edited and translated Shihab al-Din al-Nuwayri’s 14th-century Arabic encyclopedia, The Ultimate Ambition in the Arts of Erudition (Penguin, 2016) and is the editor of The Digital Humanities and Islamic & Middle East Studies (De Gruyter, 2016). His monograph, The World in a Book: Al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition is forthcoming from Princeton University Press in 2017.
In addition to his scholarship, Muhanna has written on contemporary cultural and political affairs in the Middle East for several general-interest publications, including The New York Times, NewYorker.com, The Nation, and Foreign Policy.
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“A Lesson in Emotional Geography,” The New York Times (op-ed, Nov 19, 2016)
“The Fate of a Joke in Lebanon,” The New Yorker (September 26, 2015)
“Hacking the Humanities,” The New Yorker (July 7, 2015)
“Iraq and Syria’s Poetic Borders,” The New Yorker (August 13, 2014)
“Translating ‘Frozen’ into Arabic,” The New Yorker (May 30, 2014)
“Stasis Shift,” Guernica Magazine (April 1, 2014): An interview with Jadaliyya co-founder Bassam Haddad.
“Lebanon’s War in Syria,” The New Yorker (Feb. 21, 2014): On the tortuous formation of a government.
“Letter from Lebanon: A Bookshop Burns,” The New Yorker (Jan. 16, 2014): On the burning of an antiquarian bookshop in northern Lebanon.
“Ubiquitous Liberalism: Amr Shalakany on Law and Revolution in Egypt” Jadaliyya (May 5, 2013)
“Will Civil Marriage End Lebanon’s Confessional System?” Jadaliyya (Jan 26, 2013)
“The Many Faces of Wissam al-Hassan,” NY Times (online, Oct 22, 2012): On the complicated life and legacy of one of Lebanon’s top spymasters.
“Establishing a Lebanese Senate: Bicameralism and the Third Republic,” Stanford Univ. Center for Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law, Working Papers Series, no. 125 (August 2012). Arabic translation available here.
“Syria’s Man in Lebanon Arrested: Three Reasons to Pay Attention,” Al-Monitor (August 9, 2012).
“Syria’s Foreign Policy: A Juggling Act,” Al-Akhbar (July 17, 2012)
“Lebanon, By the Numbers,” NY Times (online, January 17, 2012): On electoral reform in Lebanon.
“Syria’s Defecting Bloggers,” NY Times (online, December 28, 2011): On the sea change in public opinion about Bashar al-Assad.
“Nasrallah’s Fighting Words,” NY Times (online, December 14, 2011): Ashura as passion and parable.
“Shelf Life,” The Nation (Sept. 5, 2011): Review of Reza Aslan’s Tablet and Pen.
“Just Another Day in Lebanon,” NY Times (online, November 23, 2011): On the Special Tribunal’s impending trial in absentia.
“No Victors in Lebanon,” Foreign Policy (Jan. 13, 2011): As the Lebanese government unravels, it’s hard to see how anyone comes out on top.
“An Interview with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon,” Foreign Policy (August 13, 2010): An interview with Dr. Fatima el Issawi, spokesperson for the U.N. Special Tribunal for Lebanon.
“The words on the street,” The National (August 13, 2010): A discussion of the sociolinguistic situation of Arabic and its alleged demise. (Online title: “The death of Arabic is greatly exaggerated”)
“The Best Defense,” Foreign Policy (August 9, 2010): An analysis of Hizbullah’s accusations against Israel in the matter of the Hariri assassination.
“A Forest of Fathers,” The Nation (July 15, 2010): A review of Michael Young’s book, The Ghosts of Martyrs Square: An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle.
“Lebanon’s Confused Secularism,” The Guardian (April 23, 2010): The confessional system has failed, but if secularism is to succeed, clarity needs to be added to the language surrounding it.
“Final Confession?“ The National (March 5, 2010): Following appeals to end Lebanon’s sectarian system of political representation, the question remains if bolder strategies are needed to secure the nation’s unity.
“Twelve Months,” The National (December 31, 2009): A review of 2009, a year of realignments in Middle East politics.
“One and Many,” The National (December 4, 2009): A review of Eugene Rogan’s book, The Arabs: A History.
“All for None,” The National (October 2, 2009): Four months after a historic election, Lebanon is still without a government. Elias Muhanna urges an end to the cult of consensus.
“Two Houses, Many Mansions,” The National (August 14, 2009): How to fix Lebanon’s Parliament? Double it. The argument for establishing a bicameral legislature in Lebanon.
“Deconstructing the Popular Vote in Lebanon’s Election,” Mideast Monitor, vol. 4, no. 1 (July-August 2009): The Lebanese opposition managed to win the popular vote handily, while still losing the election.
“Coalition of the unwilling,” Foreign Policy (June 22, 2009): Post-election wrangling has already begun in Lebanon.
“US-backed majority holds on to power in Lebanon,” World Politics Review (June 9, 2009): Surveying the results of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections.
“Bring it Aoun,” The National (June 5, 2009): Michel Aoun’s supporters revere him as a reforming hero, the only man able to repair a nation’s woes – and he agrees. A 4,000 word profile of the overlooked core of Lebanon’s opposition.
“What if Hezbollah Wins?“ Foreign Policy (May 5, 2009): Hezbollah games out the Lebanese electoral system.
“Stumbling Blocs,“ The National (May 1, 2009): As Lebanon’s closely contested elections approach, it is clear that the era of high-stakes, zero-sum politics is over.
“Our Lady of Hizbullah,” Bidoun (Winter 2008): On Julia Boutros’s revolutionary hit single, Ahibaa’i, and her muse: Hassan Nasrallah.
“Folk the Kasbah,” Transition, no. 94 (2003), pp. 132-49. On the great folk poets of Moroccan contemporary song, Nass el-Ghiwane.