Cover of Graveyard of Clerics by Pascal Menoret
Graveyard of Clerics
Everyday Activism in Saudi Arabia
Pascal Menoret


264 pages.
from $26.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9780804799805
Paperback ISBN: 9781503612464
Ebook ISBN: 9781503612471

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The inside story of political protest in Saudi Arabia—on the ground, in the suburbs, and in the face of increasing state repression.

Graveyard of Clerics takes up two global phenomena intimately linked in Saudi Arabia: urban sprawl and religious activism. Saudi suburbia emerged after World War II as citizens fled crowded inner cities. Developed to encourage a society of docile, isolated citizens, suburbs instead opened new spaces for political action. Religious activists in particular turned homes, schools, mosques, and summer camps into resources for mobilization. With the support of suburban grassroots networks, activists won local elections and found opportunities to protest government actions—until they faced a new wave of repression under the current Saudi leadership.

Pascal Menoret spent four years in Saudi Arabia in the places where today's Islamic activism first emerged. With this book, he tells the stories of the people actively countering the Saudi state and highlights how people can organize and protest even amid increasingly intense police repression. This book changes the way we look at religious activism in Saudi Arabia. It also offers a cautionary tale: the ongoing repression by Saudi elites—achieved often with the complicity of the international community—is shutting down grassroots political movements with significant consequences for the country and the world.

About the author

Pascal Menoret teaches Anthropology at Brandeis University. He is the author of The Saudi Enigma: A History (2005) and Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (2014).

"A distinguished ethnographer, Pascal Menoret excavates the Islamic Awakening in Saudi Arabia with great empathy and understanding. Once again, he demonstrates his ability to penetrate a world often associated with radicalism, bigotry, intolerance and violence, bringing us face to face with the men of the movement, and their rise and demise in the Saudi state."

—Madawi al-Rasheed, London School of Economics, author of Salman's Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia

"Pascal Menoret is an intrepid field researcher who gained unique access to communities in Saudi Arabia either closed to or ignored by other Western scholars. His insights into how the physical geography of Riyadh has shaped the development of its various social mobilizations are provocative and enlightening. This book is a fascinating read."

—F. Gregory Gause III, Texas A&M University, author of The International Relations of the Persian Gulf

"There is no doubt that this study will be invaluable to anyone interested in Middle East studies with a focus on Islamic activism, youth recruitment and mobilization, spatial politics and the intersection of urban planning, activism, and state repression. This original work is a much-needed intervention that advocates for the urgency and need for activism that 'may resurface when the conditions are ripe'"

—Jonas Elbousty, International Journal of Middle East Studies

"Graveyard of Clerics fills a glaring lacuna in anthropological reckonings of Saudi Arabia as well as ethnographic investigations of Islamic activism globally. It is an enlightening and necessary contribution to the anthropology and sociology of Islam and the Middle East."

—Zina Sawaf, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute