Medio Oriente en el pasado y futuro de la ciencia social. Traducido por Fernán Gaillardou


  • Timothy Mitchell Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Columbia University

Palabras clave:

Medio Oriente, Ciencias Sociales, Estudios de área, Middle East, Social sciences, Area studies


Suele atribuirse el nacimiento de los estudios de área a un proyecto político-militar estadounidense en el marco de la Guerra Fría. Sin embargo, su surgimiento data del período de entreguerras y fue promovido no solo por razones políticas sino también por la aspiración occidental de crear una ciencia universal. Así, las ciencias sociales construyeron los objetos que les dieron forma a partir determinado modo de diferenciación de lo local y de lo global. Los estudios de área, por su parte, contribuyeron a delimitar los territorios locales cuyos rasgos expresarían formas más o menos imperfectas de lo universal. Este capítulo reconstruye este proceso poniendo el foco en los estudios de área de Medio Oriente.

Biografía del autor/a

Timothy Mitchell, Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies Columbia University

Timothy Mitchell is a political theorist who studies the political economy of the Middle East, the political role of economics and other forms of expert knowledge, the politics of large-scale technical systems, and the place of colonialism in the making of modernity.


Educated at Queens' College, Cambridge, where he received a first-class honours degree in History, Mitchell completed his Ph.D. in Politics and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University in 1984. He joined Columbia University in 2008 after teaching for twenty-five years at New York University, where he served as Director of the Center for Near Eastern Studies. He is now professor and chair of the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies.


Mitchell is the author of Colonising Egypt, a study of the emergence of the modern state in the colonial period and an exploration of the forms of reason, power and knowledge that define the experience of modernity. The book has been influential in fields as diverse as anthropology, history, law, philosophy, cultural studies, and art history. Translations have appeared or are in preparation in seven languages, including Arabic, German, Polish, Spanish and Japanese.


Mitchell's subsequent work covered a variety of topics in political theory and the contemporary political economy of the Middle East. His essay on the modern state, originally published in the American Political Science Review, has been republished on several occasions. Further writings on the nature of European modernity include an edited volume, Questions of Modernity, bringing together the work of leading scholars of South Asia and the Middle East. In political economy he has published a number of essays on agrarian transformation, economic reform, and the politics of development, mostly drawing on his continuing research in Egypt. The research includes long-term fieldwork in a village in southern Egypt, which he has studied and written about for more than a decade.


His 2002 book, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity, draws on his work in Egypt to examine the creation of economic knowledge and the making of “the economy” and “the market” as objects of twentieth-century politics; the wider role of expert knowledge in the formation of the contemporary state; the relationship between law, private property, and violence in this process; and the problems with explaining contemporary politics in terms of globalization or the development of capitalism.


Mitchell's research on the making of the economy led to a four-year project that he directed at the International Center for Advanced Study at NYU on The Authority Of Knowledge in a Global Age. Articles on The Middle East in the Past and Future of Social Science, The Properties of Markets, Rethinking Economy, and The Work of Economics: How a Discipline Makes Its World, explored these concerns, and developed Mitchell's interest in the broader field of science and technology studies (STS). His recent research brings together the fields of STS and postcolonial theory in a project on "Carbon Democracy," which examines the history of fossil fuels and the possibilities for democractic politics that were expanded or closed down in the construction of modern energy networks. His book Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil was published by Verso Press in 2011.


Mitchell has served on the editorial committees of the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, the American Political Science Review, Middle East Report (where he has also been chair of the editorial committee), Social Text, Society and Space, the Journal of Historical Sociology, the Journal of Cultural Economy, and Development and Change. He has been invited to lecture at most leading research universities in the United States, and at universities and academic conferences in Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Australia. Several of his writings has been translated and published in Arabic, including three further books of essays, as well as in Persian, Hebrew, and Turkish.


Abdel-Malek, Anouar (1963): “Orientalism in Crisis” Diogenes, N° 44, pp. 103-140.

Abrahamian, Ervand (1982): Iran Between Two Revolutions. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Abu-Lughod, Ibrahim (ed.) (1970): The Arab-Israeli Confrontation of June 1967: An Arab Perspective. Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

- (1971): The Transformation of Palestine: Essays on the Origin and Development of the Arab-Israeli Conflict. Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

- (1974): Settler Regimes in Africa and the Arab World: The Illusion of Endurance. Wilmette, Medina University Press International.

- (2000): Entrevista con el autor, agosto.

Abu-Lughod, Lila (1990): “Anthropology’s Orient: The Boundaries of Theory on the Arab World”, en Sharabi, Hisham (ed.): Theory, Politics and the Arab world. Critical responses. New York and London, Routledge, pp. 881-131.

- (1998): “Introduction”, en Abu-Lughod, Lila (ed.): Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

American Council of Learned Societies (1949): A Program for Near Eastern Studies in the United States. Washington D.C.

Amin, Samin (pseudónimo Hasan Riad) (1964): L'Egypte nassérienne. Paris, Editions de Minuit.

- (1970): L’Accumulation à l’échelle mondiale. Paris, Anthropos. (Traducción inglesa: (1974): Accumulation on a World Scale, 2 vols. New York, Monthly Review Press.)

Antonius, George (1946): The Arab Awakening.

Appadurai, Arjun (1996): “Global Ethnoscapes: Notes and Queries for a Transnational Anthropology”, en Appadurai, Arjun: Modernity at Large. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press.

Arab-American University Graduates (AAUG) (1977): The First Decade, 1967-1977. Detroit, AAUG.

Aruri, Naseer (ed.): Middle East Crucible: Studies on the Arab-Israeli War of October 1973. Wilmette, Medina University Press International.

Asad, Talal (ed.) (1973): Anthropology and The Colonial Encounter. London, Ithaca Press.

- (1993): “The Limits of Religious Criticism in the Middle East: Notes on Islamic Public Argument”, en Asad, Talal: Genealogies of Religion: Discipline and Reasons of Power in Christianity and Islam. Baltimore, The Johns Hopkins University Press.

Bates, Robert (1996): "Letter from the President", Newsletter of the APSA Comparative Politics Section, Vol. 7, N° 1, p. 1.

- (1997): "Letter from the President: Theory in Comparative Politics?", Newsletter of the APSA Comparative Politics Section, Vol. 8, N° 1, p. 1.

Beinin, Joel y Lockman, Zachary (1989): Workers on the Nile: Nationalism, Communism, Islam, and the Egyptian Working Class, 1882-1954. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Berger, Morroe (1962): The Arab World Today. New York, Doubleday.

- (1967): “Middle Eastern and North Africa Studies: Development and Needs,” MESA Bulletin, Vol. 1 N° 2, pp. 1-18.

Bill, James (1996) “The Study of Middle East Politics 1946-1996: A Stocktaking,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 50, Nº 4, pp. 501-512.

Binder, Leonard (1957): “Prolegomena to the Comparative Study of Middle East Governments”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 51, N° 3, pp. 651-668.

- (1975): “1974 Presidential Address at the Middle East Studies Association Annual Meeting”, Middle East Studies Association Bulletin, Vol. 9, N° 1, pp. 1-11.

- (1976): “Area Studies: A Critical Reassessment”, en Binder, Leonard (ed.): The Study of the Middle East: Research and Scholarship in the Humanities and Social Sciences. New York, John Wiley and Sons, pp. 1-28.

Blackman, Winifred (1927): The Fellahin of Upper Egypt: Their Religious, Social and Industrial Life To-day with Special Reference to Survivals from Ancient Times. London, George G. Harrap & Co.

Bonné, Alfred (1948): State and Economics in the Middle East: A Society in Transition. London, Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Bromley, Simon (1994): Rethinking Middle East Politics. Austin, University of Texas Press.

Burke, Edmund (1946): “The First Crisis of Orientalism, 1890-1914” en Vatin, Jean-Claude (ed.) (1984): Connaissances du Maghreb: Sciences Sociales et Colonisation. Paris, Editions du CNRS, pp, 213-26.

- (1979): “La mission scientifique au Maroc”, Actes de Durham: Recherches recentes sur le Maroc moderne, Rabat, Bulletin Economique et Social du Maroc, pp. 37-56.

- (1980): “The Sociology of Islam: The French Tradition” en Kerr, Malcolm (ed.): Islamic Studies: A Tradition and Its Problems. Malibu, Undena Publications, pp. 73-88.

Cammack, Paul (1990): “Statism, New Institutionalism, and Marxism”, Socialist Register, Vol. 26, pp. 147-170.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh (1997): “Minority Histories, Subaltern Pasts,” Perspectives, Noviembre, pp. 37-43.

Chaudhry, Kiren (1994): “The Middle East and the Political Economy of Development”, Items, Vol. 48, N° 2/3, pp. 41-49.

- (1997): The Price of Wealth: Economics and Institutions in the Middle East. Ithaca and London, Cornell University Press.

Clowse, Barbara (1981): Brainpower for the Cold War: The Sputnik Crisis and National Defense Education Act of 1958. Westport, Greenwood Press.

Coon, Carleton (1931): Tribes of the Rif. Cambridge, Peabody museum of Harvard university.

- (1944): “Southern Arabia: A Problem for the Future”, Annual Report for 1944, Washington Smithsonian Institution, pp. 385-402.

- (1951): Caravan: The Story of the Middle East. New York, Holt.

- (1952): “The Impact of the West on Middle Eastern Social Institutions”, Proceedings of the Academy of Political Science, Vol. 24, N° 4, pp. 3-26.

Cook, Michael (ed.) (1970): Studies in the Economic History of the Middle East: From the Rise of Islam to the Present Day. London y New York, Oxford University Press.

Cooper, Frederick (1997) “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development Concept” en Cooper, Frederick y Packard, Randall (eds.): International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge. Berkeley, University of California Press, pp. 64-92.

Doutté, Edmond (1908): Magie et Religion dans l’Afrique du Nord. Algiers, Jourdan.

Eickelman, Dale (1998): The Middle East and Central Asia: An Anthropological Approach. New Jersey, Prentice Hall, cap. 2.

Evans-Pritchard, Edward (1937): Witchcraft, Oracles, and Magic Among the Azande. Oxford, The Clarendon Press.

- (1940) The Nuer, a Description of the Modes of Livelihood and Political Institutions of a Nilotic People. Oxford, The Clarendon Press.

Fisher, Sidnet (ed.) (1955): Social Forces in the Middle East. Ithaca, Cornell University Press.

Geertz, Clifford (1971): Islam Observed : Religious Development in Morocco and Indonesia. Chicago, The University of Chicago Press.

- (1973): “Thick Description: Toward an Interpretive Theory of Culture”, en Geertz, Clifford: The Interpretation of Cultures. New York, Basic Books.

- (1973): “The Impact of the Concept of Culture on the Concept of Man”, en Geertz, Clifford: The Interpretation of Cultures. New York, Basic Books.

- (1995): After the Fact: Two Countries, Four Decades, One Anthropologist. Cambridge, Harvard University Press.

Gendzier, Irene (1985): Managing Political Change: Social Scientists and the Third World. Boulder, Westview Press.

Gibb, Hamilton (1932): Whither Islam?: A Survey of Modern Movements in the Moslem World, New York, AMS Press.

- (1956): “Problems of Modern Middle Eastern History”, en Middle East Institute, Report on Current Research. Washington D.C., Middle East Institute.

- (1964) Area Studies Reconsidered. London. School of African and Oriental Studies.

Gibb, Hamilton y Bowen, Harold (1950): Islamic Society and the West: A Study of the Impact of Western Civilization on Moslem Culture in the Near East, vol. 1, part 1. London, Oxford University Press.

- (1957): Islamic Society and the West: A Study of the Impact of Western Civilization on Moslem Culture in the Near East, vol. 1, part 2. London, Oxford University Press.

Gran, Peter (1979): Islamic Roots of Capitalism. Texas, University of Texas Press.

Granqvist, Hilma (1931) Marriage Conditions in a Palestinian Village, vol. 1. Helsinki. Finska vetenskaps-soceteten.

- (1935) Marriage Conditions in a Palestinian Village, vol. 2. Helsinki. Finska vetenskaps-soceteten.

Hajjar, Lisa y Niva, Steve (1997): “(Re) Made in the USA: Middle East Studies in the Global Era,” Middle East Report, Nº 205, pp. 2-9.

Hall, Robert (1947): Area Studies, with Special Reference to Their Implications for Research in the Social Sciences. New York, Social Science Research Council.

Halliday, Fred (1974): Arabia Without Sultans. Harmondsworth, Penguin.

- (1979): Iran: Dictatorship and Development. Harmondsworth, Penguin.

Halpern, Manfred (1962) “Middle Eastern Studies: A Review of the State of the Field with a Few Examples”, World Politics, Vol. 15, pp. 108-122.

Heginbotham, Stanley (1994):“Rethinking International Scholarship: The Transition from the Cold War Era”, Items, Newsletter of the SSRC 48, Nº 2/3, pp. 33-40.

Heilbroner, Robert y Milberg, William (1995): The Crisis of Vision in Modern Economic Thought. New York, Cambridge University Press, caps. 4 y 5.

Hitti, Philip (1941): “Arabic and Islamic Studies at Princeton University”, Muslim World, Vol. 31, N° 3, pp. 292-4.

Hourani, Albert (1946): Syria and Lebanon: A political essay. London, Oxford University Press.

Islamoglu-Inan, Huri (ed.) (1987): The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Issawi, Charles (1947): Egypt: An Economic and Social Analysis. London, Oxford University Press.

Johnson, Peter y Tucker, Judith (1975): “Middle East Studies Network in the United States”, MERIP Reports, N° 38, pp. 3-20.

Keen, Bernard (1946): The Agricultural Development of the Middle East. London, H.M. Stationary Office.

Keyder, Caglar (1987): State and Class in Turkey. London, Verso.

Khadduri, Majid (1951): Independent Iraq, a Study in Iraqi Politics since 1932. London, Oxford University Press.

Khalid, Rashid (1995): “Is There a Future for Middle East Studies?”, MESA Bulletin, N° 29, pp. 1-7.

Kohn, Hans (1928): Geschichte der Nationalen Bewegung im Orient. Berlin, Vowinckel.

- (1928): Nationalismus und Imperialismus im Vorderen Orient. Frankfurt, Societats Verlag.

Kritzeck, James y Winder, Richard (1960): “Philip K. Hitti”, en Kritzeck, James y Winder, Richard (eds.): The World of Islam: Studies in Honour of Philip K.Hitti. London, Macmillan.

Kuklick, Bruce (1996): Puritans in Babylon: The Ancient Near East and American Intellectual Life, 1880-1930. Princeton, Princeton University Press.

Laitin, David (1993): "Letter from the Incoming President”, Newsletter of the APSA Comparative Politics Section, Vol. 4, N° 4, pp. 1-3.

Laroui, Abdallah (1974): La crise des intellectuels arabes: traditionalisme ou historicisme? Paris, Maspero. (Traducción inglesa: (1976): The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual. Berkeley and Los Angeles, University of California Press.)

Lerner, Daniel (1958): The Passing of Traditional Society. Glencoe, The Free Press.

McCaughey, Robert (1984): International Studies and Academic Enterprise. New York, Columbia University Press.

Middle East Institute (1947): “Editorial foreword”, Middle East Journal, Año 1, Nº 1, pp. 1-4.

Mitchell, Timothy (1991): “The Limits of the State”, American Political Science Review, Vol. 85, pp. 77-96.

- (1998): “Fixing the Economy”, Cultural Studies, Vol. 12, N° 1, pp. 82-101.

- (1999): “Society, Economy, and State Effect”, en Steinmetz, George (ed.): State/Culture: State Formation After the Cultural Turn. Ithaca, Cornell University Press, pp. 76-97.

- (2000): “The Stage of Modernity”, en Mitchell, Timothy (ed.): Questions of Modernity. Minnesota, University of Minnesota Press, pp. 1-34.

- (2002): Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity. Berkeley, University of California Press.

- (2003): “Deterritorialization and the crisis of social science”, en Mirsepassi, Ali, Basu, Amrita y Weaver, Frederick (eds.): Localizing Knowledge in a Globalizing World: Re-Casting the Area Studies Debate. New York, Syracuse University Press.

Montagne, Robert (1931): La vie sociale et la vie politique du Berberes. Paris, Éditions du Comité de l'Afrique française.

Norman Wait Harris Memorial Foundation (1942): The Near East: Problems and Prospects Proceedings of the Eighteenth Institute of the Norman Wait Harris Memorial Foundation. University of Chicago, 25 al 30 de Junio.

NYU, Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, "MESA" file. Archivos consultados el 1/1/997.

Owen, Roger (1981): The Middle East in World Economy. New York, Methuen.

Rafael, Vicente (1994): “The Cultures of Area Studies in the United States,” Social Text, Nº 41, pp. 91-111.

Richards, Alan y Waterbury, John (1996): A Political Economy of the Middle East. Boulder, Westview Press.

Ross, Dorothy (1991): The Origins of American Social Science. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Rostow, Walt (1960): The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Said, Edward (1970): “The Arab Portrayed”, en Abu-Lughod, Ibrahim (ed.) (1970): The Arab-Israeli Confrontation of June 1967: An Arab Perspective. Evanston, Northwestern University Press.

- (1978): Orientalism. New York, Pantheon.

Saunders, Frances (1999): The Cultural Cold War: The CIA and the World of Arts and Letters. New York, New Press. Originalmente publicado como Saunders, Frances (1999): Who Paid the Piper: The CIA and the Cultural Cold War. London, Granta Books.

Sibley, Elbridge (1974): Social Science Research Council: The First Fifty Years. New York, Social Science Research Council.

Tannous, Afif (1944): The Arab Village Community in the Middle East. Washington, D.C., Smithsonian Institution.

Tucker, Judith (1985): Women in Nineteenth-Century Egypt. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.

Van Gennep, Arnold (1914): En Algerie. Paris, Mercure de France.

Vatin, Jean-Claude (ed.) (1984): Connaissances du Maghreb: Sciences Sociales et Colonisation. Paris, Editions du CNRS.

Vitalis, Robert (1996): “The End of Third Worldism in Egyptian Studies” Arab Studies Journal, Vol. 4, N° 1, pp. 13-32.

- (1999): “Review of Kiren Aziz Chaudhry, The Price of Wealth”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, N° 31, pp. 659-61.

Wagley, Charles (1948): “Area Research and Training: A Conference Report on the Study of World Areas”, Social Science Research Council Pamphlet, N° 6, pp. 6-7.

Wald, Alan (1987): The New York Intellectuals: The Rise and Decline of the Anti-Stalinist Left From the 1930s to 1980s. Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina Press.

Wallerstein Immanuel et al. (1996): Open the Social Sciences. Stanford, Stanford University Press.

Westermark, Edward (1926): Ritual and Belief in Morocco. London, Macmillan.

Winder, Richard (1987): “Four Decades of Middle Eastern Study,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 41, Nº 1, pp. 40-63.

Wolfers, Michael (1994): Re-Reading the Postwar Period: An Intellectual Itinerary. New York, Monthly Review Press, caps. 2 y 3.

Young, Robert (1991): White Mythologies: Writing, History, and the West. New York, Routledge.

Zartman, William (1970): “History of MESA: The Middle East Studies Association of North America, Inc.”, Mimeo, Middle East Studies Association of North America, septiembre.