Joel Beinin has been a major figure in Middle East studies for several decades. He has been involved with the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) since the 1970s and remains a contributing editor to its magazine, Middle East Report. He and Joe Stork assembled the cri de coeur Political Islam: Essays from Middle East Report. Beinin’s MERIP author page reads like a one-man archive of leftist thinking about the Middle East over the last 30 years.
He is Professor of Middle East History at Stanford University and series editor of Stanford Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic Societies and Cultures. In 2002 he served as president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America (MESA). From 2006 to 2008 he served as Director of Middle East Studies and Professor of History at the American University in Cairo (AUC).
His many books include Was the Red Flag Flying There? Marxist Politics and the Arab-Israeli Conflict in Eqypt and Israel 1948-1965, Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882 1954 (co-authored with Zachary Lockman), The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, and the Formation of a Modern Diaspora, Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East, and Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa (co-edited with Frédéric Vairel).
On April 3, 2017, I had the pleasure of conducting this interview with him about his most recent book, Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, for the MENA Dialogues series produced by Northwestern University’s Middle East and North African Studies program: