Social scientists are often engaged in the project of documenting and theorizing social and political transformation. Three recent texts that focus on everyday practices and politics in the Middle East take up this endeavor, through their mapping out and analysis of historical changes in the ways that life is being lived in Beirut and Istanbul. Each work explores a cohort of urban residents that represents a generational shift in the ways in which public selves and political bonds are forged. To varying extents, each undertakes an examination of how these identities are gendered, relating to questions of morals and class.

In this regard Lara Deeb and Mona Harb’s Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shiʿite South Beirut (2013) shows how modes of leisure are a new locus for moral, class, and political sectarian identity among youths aged...

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