The New Middle East: What Everyone Needs to Know

A book talk by James L. Gelvin (UCLA), with discussant Kevan Harris (UCLA)

In the aftermath of the collapse of the USSR, the American invasion of Iraq, and the Arab uprisings, a new Middle East emerged. Its hallmarks are rebellion and repression, proxy wars, sectarian strife, the rise of the Islamic State, and intraregional polarization. The Arab Spring had perverse results. In Egypt and Bahrain, regimes became more repressive, and Libya and Yemen have virtually ceased to exist as states. Elsewhere, the forces of reaction outmaneuvered those advocating change. Syria is a nightmare unto itself, its wounds unlikely to heal. The Syrian civil war has displaced half the population, and ISIS and other jihadi groups thrive in the political vacuum, setting a new standard for political violence.
Meanwhile, international and regional actors have stoked the flames. Both the United States and Russia have sought to reposition themselves in the region, while Saudi Arabia and Iran vie for supremacy. These are all problems of immediate concern. In the long term, bad governance, stagnant economies, climate change, food and water insecurity, population growth, and war will ultimately define the Middle East. Using a concise question-and-answer format, renowned Middle East scholar James L. Gelvin explains how this vital region got where it is today, and where it is headed in the future.

James L. Gelvin is Professor of Modern Middle Eastern History at the University of California, Los Angeles. He received his B.A. from Columbia University, his Master's in International Affairs from the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University, and his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He has taught at Boston College, Harvard University, MIT, and the American University in Beirut. A specialist in the modern social and cultural history of the Arab East, he is author of four books: The Arab Uprisings: What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press, 2012, 2014); The Modern Middle East: A History (Oxford University Press, 2004, 2007, 2011, 2015);The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War (Cambridge University Press, 2005, 2007, 2014); and Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire (University of California Press, 1998), along with numerous articles and chapters in edited volumes. He is also co-editor of Global Muslims in the Age of Steam and Print, 1850-1930 (University of California Press, 2013). In 2015, Gelvin received the Middle East Studies Association’s Undergraduate Education Award.

Please upgrade to a browser that supports HTML5 audio or install Flash.

Audio MP3 Download Podcast

Duration: 59:06


Transcript   * This might take a few seconds to load.

image for printer

Published: Thursday, November 9, 2017