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  • Author: Hisham Aïdi, Marc Lynch, Zachariah Mampilly, Diana S. Kim, Parisa Vaziri, Denis Regnier, Sean Jacobs, Wendell Marsh, Stephen J. King, Eric Hahonou, Paul A. Silverstein, Afifa Ltifi, Zeyad el Nabolsy, Bayan Abubakr, Yasmin Moll, Zachary Mondesire, Abdourahmane Seck, Amelie Le Renard, Sumayya Kassamali, Noori Lori, Nathaniel Mathews, Sabria Al-Thawr, Gokh Amin Alshaif, Deniz Duruiz, Yasmeen Abu-Laban, Efrat Yerday, Noah Salomon, Ann McDougall
  • Publication Date: 09-2021
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: In February 2020, the editors of this volume organized a POMEPS workshop that explored the origins of the disciplinary divide between the study of Africa and the Middle East, examining issues that span both regions (i.e., cross-border conflict, Islamist politics, social movements and national identity, and Gulf interventionism.) In February 2021, we convened another workshop, sponsored by POMEPS and the newly-founded Program on African Social Research (PASR, pronounced Pasiri) centered on racial formations and racialization across the two regions. Both workshops centered around the need for a genuinely transregional scholarship, one which rejects artificial divisions between ostensibly autonomous regions while also taking seriously the distinctive historical trajectories and local configurations of power which define national and subregional specificities. The workshop brought together nearly two dozen scholars from across multiple disciplines to explore the historical and contemporary politics of racial formation across Africa and the Middle East.
  • Topic: Islam, Race, War, Immigration, Law, Slavery, Judaism, Colonialism, Borders, Identity, Amazigh
  • Political Geography: Africa, Sudan, Turkey, Middle East, Asia, South Africa, Yemen, Palestine, North Africa, Egypt, Madagascar, Tunisia, Oman, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Michael Herb, Marc Lynch, Makio Yamada, Jim Krane, Ishac Diwan, Steffen Hertog, Andrew Leber, Jessie Moritz, Karen E. Young, Justin Gengler, Michael Ewers, Bethany Shockley, Claire Beaugrand, Crystal A. Ennis, Calvert W. Jones, Benjamin Smith, David Waldner, Khalid Abu-Ismail
  • Publication Date: 01-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: More than two generations have passed since oil transformed the economies and societies of the Gulf monarchies. Gulf citizens enjoy opportunities unimaginable without oil wealth and have the security of a comprehensive welfare state. But how sustainable are the Gulf economies? Citizen populations continue to grow, oil reserves continue to fall, technological advances could lessen world demand for the Gulf’s oil, and price fluctuations make planning difficult. Most Gulf monarchies have made little progress in transitioning away from oil despite these widely-recognized incipient problems. Periods of lower oil prices are met with deficit spending until prices rise again, rather than serious economic restructuring. They have built economies with deep structural imbalances that make it more rather than less difficult to reduce their reliance on oil – and political orders which are deeply constituted by those imbalances and threatened by reform. The political economies shaped by oil wealth have been primarily studied in the political science literature through the concept of the rentier state, which suggests that the dominance of oil wealth has distinctive, largely unavoidable political, social, and economic effects. Rentier state theory developed to explain the difficulty of diversifying economies, the bloating and inefficiencies of state institutions, the absence of democracy, the power of national security states, and patriarchal political cultures. Among scholars whose work focuses on the Gulf, though, the theory of the rentier state appears more often as a foil than as a bedrock theoretical perspective. Does rentier state theory actually explain political outcomes and structures in the Gulf? The contributions and limitations of rentier state theory in the Gulf were the focus of a workshop convened by the Project on Middle East Political Science at the Elliott School of International Affairs in September 2018. The discussions among a diverse, interdisciplinary set of scholars revolved around the nature and extent of the coming challenges to Gulf economies, and the inadequacy of existing theories of the rentier state to account for the political implications. The papers presented in POMEPS Studies 33: The Politics of Rentier States in the Gulf range widely across countries, economic sectors, and political manifestations and bring anthropological and ethnographic perspectives into dialogue with economists and political scientists.
  • Topic: Economics, Oil, Politics, Citizenship, Tax Systems, Labor Market, Rentier State Theory
  • Political Geography: Saudi Arabia, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Lynch, Amaney Jamal
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: What is the current structure of international relations, and how does this shape the politics of the Middle East? For decades, the answer was clear: international structure was unipolar, and American predominance shaped the alliance choices of both its allies and its adversaries. In recent years, this clarity has been overtaken by confusion. American primacy has perhaps declined, or at least shifted in its application, but no rival power has yet risen to take its place. How has this perceived change in global structure affected regional politics in the Middle East? In October 2018, POMEPS, Princeton University’s Bobst Center, and the American University of Beirut brought together nearly two dozen scholars from the United States, Europe and the Middle East at AUB to discuss the impact of shifting global structure on regional dynamics. This collection features sixteen essays ranging across diverse perspectives on the evolving relationship between the global and the regional. Taken together, they offer a fascinating window into the relationship between the global and the regional, and the implications for contemporary regional politics.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Diplomacy, Politics, Poverty, Power Politics, European Union, Partnerships, Inequality, Brexit, Arab Spring, Alliance, Conflict, Transatlantic Relations, Donald Trump, Regional Power
  • Political Geography: China, Europe, Middle East, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, North America, United States of America, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Stacey Philbrick Yadav, Marc Lynch, Sheila Carapico, Dana Moss, Silvana Toska, Ala'a Jarban, Ala Qasem, Mareike Transfeld, Marie-Christine Heinze, Hafez Albukari, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, Elisabeth Kendall, Laurent Bonnefoy, Susanne Dahlgren, Peter Salisbury, April Longley Alley
  • Publication Date: 01-2018
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: Yemen’s war has become one of the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophes. The preventable consequences of the war have been well-documented and the military conflict is now at a stalemate. For Yemenis, 2018 promises a sustained downward spiral. The war and humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen has received relatively little analytical or scholarly attention compared to the conflicts elsewhere in the region, such as Syria and Iraq. Both the Houthis and the Saudi-UAE coalition tightly control access for journalists and researchers, making up-to-date, on the ground research difficult. Media coverage is dominated by propaganda, reinforcing prevailing narratives of either Iranian encroachment or Saudi adventurism. These conditions have not been conducive to sustained, rigorous, empirically and theoretically informed analysis of Yemen. How have political coalitions and movements adapted to more than two years of war and economic devastation? How does governance actually work under the Houthis, the coalition, and in other areas of the country? How has the intervention changed the prospects of the southern secessionist movement? What prospects exist for a political agreement which might end the war? On November 10, the Project on Middle East Political Science convened a workshop on these questions with participants from Yemen, Europe, and the United States. The invited scholars and analysts all have longstanding research ties to the country, and most have been able to carry out very recent research inside the country. It is worth noting that assembling the workshop proved exceptionally challenging. The highly polarized political situation in Yemen extends to the analytical community, making publishing analysis a potential problem for Yemenis who live – or aspire to return – to Yemen. More directly, changing American travel regulations ultimately deterred numerous invited participants from attempting to reach Washington D.C., including several Yemeni scholars and several European scholars with deep experience in the region. While some participated virtually, the loss of a number of critically important Yemeni and European scholars from the workshop tangibly represents the broader cost to academia of these travel restrictions. Despite these obstacles, the workshop brought together a remarkable group of American, European, and Yemeni scholars. Their papers and workshop discussions offered insightful analysis into the central actors, alliances, and war dynamics, and how these are likely to shape whatever future agreement may arise in Yemen. This collection offers no clear path forward for policymakers. But it does draw on the depth of knowledge and detailed research conducted by an interdisciplinary group of scholars who have committed themselves to the study of Yemen and who doubtless hope that this research can help to inform policies that promote a peaceful resolution to this devastating war and an inclusive and sustainable process of rebuilding.
  • Topic: Development, Education, Politics, War, Diaspora, Governance, Alliance, Youth, Islamism, Revolution, State Building, Jihad, Houthis, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Yemen, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Gulf Nations
  • Author: Marc Lynch, Ali Kadivar, Elvire Corboz, Farzan Sabet, Shirin Saeidi, Kevan Harris, Diana Zeidan, Toby Matthiesen, Laurence Louer, Marsin Alshamary, Hussein Abou Saleh, Morten Valbjørn
  • Publication Date: 12-2017
  • Content Type: Research Paper
  • Institution: Project on Middle East Political Science (POMEPS)
  • Abstract: POMEPS Studies 28: New Analysis of Shia Politics The study of Islamist movements has often implicitly meant the study of Sunni Islamist movements. An enormous amount of political science scholarship has dissected the ideology, organization, and political strategy of Sunni Islamist movements.However these academic communities that study Sunni Islamism often proceed without any interaction with the academic communities that study Iran or Shi’a politics in Arab countries. Studies of Iran and of Shi’a movements similarly often proceed in isolation from the literature on the Arab world or Sunni Islamist movements. This is unfortunate, because Sunni and Shi’a Islamist political dynamics engage many similar theoretical or intellectual issues and could offer each other critically important comparative perspective. Therefore, on October 13, 2017, POMEPS convened an interdisciplinary workshop of scholars of Shi’a politics to discuss these questions and to probe the similarities and differences between the two academic communities. We are delighted to publish this collection of essays resulting from that workshop. The essays range widely, both thematically and geographically, and together offer a deeply informed and often surprising portrait of political changes across very different contexts. They also reveal the profound methodological and intellectual divides between the academic communities studying Sunni and Shi’a Islamism. The essays in this collection range broadly over these issues and represent a starting point for the development of a research community. In the coming years, we hope to see much more attention paid to the comparative study of Sunni and Shia Islamism across diverse contexts. Bridging these linguistic, analytical, methodological and political divides would be an important step forward in the broader understanding of Islamist politics.
  • Topic: Government, Islam, Politics, Religion, Sectarianism, Islamism, Revolution, Welfare, Sunni, Shia, Monarchy, Alawites
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Iran, Middle East, Lebanon, Syria, Gulf Nations