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Rebuilding the Middle EastSchools in Afghanistan destroyed and rebuilt. Photo by Relief International

Rebuilding the Middle East

Theoretical approaches, practical solutions

By Diane James

View photographs of the event

The second and final session of a research-oriented workshop on the problem of rebuilding devastated economies in the Middle East, sponsored by the Center for Near Eastern Studies, was held in the Von Grunebaum Library on February 3-5, 2005. The first session was held in May 2004, after which participants revised their papers in light of their discussions.

The workshop focused on seven examples of economic devastation: Lebanon, Algeria, Iraq, Sudan, Palestine, Yemen and Afghanistan. All of these countries have experienced or are experiencing civil war or something like it. In some cases, economic decline preceded the breakdown of state authority, but in all cases, violence has deepened the economic crisis and prevented economic recovery.

The purpose of the workshop was to explore the indigenous economic obstacles to political stabilization as well as the effects of a generalized globalization, and to suggest preferred methods of approaching these problems from practical as well as theoretical points of view.

Participants included Bassam Yousif of Indiana State University, presenting a paper on Iraq; Mary Ann Tetreault of Trinity University, on the Greater Middle East Initiative; Miriam Lowi of the College of New Jersey, on Algeria; Sheila Carapico of Richmond University, on Yemen; Kiren Chaudhry of UC Berkeley, on the Middle East and North Africa region; Bradford Dillman of the University of Puget Sound, also on the Middle East and North Africa region; Marvin Weinbaum of the University of Illinois, on Afghanistan; Karen Pfeifer of Smith College, on Palestine; Samir Makdisi of the American University of Beirut, on Lebanon; and Ibrahim A. Elbadawi of the World Bank, on Sudan. Ellis Goldberg of the University of Washington, Jennifer C. Olmsted of Drew University, Jeff Nugent of the University of Southern California, Alan Richards of UC Santa Cruz and Clement Henry of the University of Texas, Austin, took part in the workshop as discussants.

Center Director Leonard Binder opened the February workshop with this overview of the issues.

Center for Near Eastern Studies