Understanding the New Middle East

New Middle East
A sniper fired at a group of fleeing civilians in west Mosul, Iraq. Credit Ivor Prickett/Panos Pictures

DAY ONE, February 8, 2018

 Panel 1: The Arab World Post-Uprisings

Joel Beinin (Stanford University)
What has Changed; What Hasn't?

Marc Lynch (George Washington University)
Proxy Wars and State Failure after the Arab Uprisings

Ishac Diwan (Université Paris Sciences et Lettres)
Crony Capitalism in the Middle East—What do we Know and why Does it Matter?

Respondent: Aomar Boum (UCLA)


Panel 2: The Future of Political Islam

Nathan Brown (George Washington University)
Islamism inside, outside, or against the State?

Toby Matthiesen (University of Oxford)
Sectarianization and Identity Formation in the New Middle East: Sunni-Shi‘i relations after the Arab Uprisings

Respondent: Khaled Abou El Fadl (UCLA)


Panel 3: Art & Culture in the New Middle East

Laila Sakr (University of California, Santa Barbara)
Algorithmic Resistance

Jessica Winegar (Northwestern University)
Counter-Revolutionary Aesthetics in Egypt

Elliott Colla (Georgetown University)
Poetry Repertoires in Peak and Trough

Respondent: Ali Behdad (UCLA)



Keynote: Moncef Marzouki, Former President, Tunisia



DAY TWO, February 9, 2018

 Panel 4: Syria and Iraq

Bassam Haddad (George Mason University)
The Arab Uprisings and the Syrian Case: Unfinished Business

Lisa Wedeen (University of Chicago)
Authoritarian Apprehensions

Lindsay Gifford (University of San Francisco)
Understanding the New Syria: The View from the Diaspora

Harith Al-Qarawee (Central European University)
Reconfiguring Authority: State and Informal Actors in Iraq

Respondent: James L. Gelvin (UCLA)


Panel 5: Regional and International Competition in the New Middle East

Aslı Bâli (UCLA)
International Law and ‘The New Middle East’ 

Henri Barkey (Lehigh University)
Into the Unknown: Turkish Foreign Policy under President Erdogan

Gregory Gause (Texas A&M University)
The Middle East Regional Crisis

Respondent: James Gelvin (UCLA)


Panel 6: Human Security in the New Middle East

Jillian Schwedler (Hunter College)
Economic Dislocations in a Shifting Urban Geography: Insights from Amman, Jordan

Marina Ottaway (Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars)
Human Insecurity and Political Change

Laurie Brand (University of Southern California)
Education and Human Security: MENA Realities and Prognoses

Sherine Hamdy (University of California, Irvine)
Exploring the Egyptian Revolution and Health Politics through Comics: The Making of "Lissa": an ethnoGRAPHIC Story

Respondent: Can Aciksoz (UCLA)



About the Conference

This conference was organized by CNES faculty affiliates James Gelvin, Aomar Boum and Kevan Harris together with CNES faculty director, Aslı Bâli. The conference was conceived to assess the changes in the Middle East from the Iraq invasion through the Arab uprisings that have altered the regional balance of power, called into question the viability of some existing states and led to the emergence and proliferation of both violent non-state actors and new civil society movements and organizations. While the region has been faced with new crises as a result of the events of the last fifteen years, it is also confronted by enduring challenges relating to population growth, poverty, corruption, economic decline, unemployment, drought and religious mobilizations. At times these continuities serve to mask disruptions generated by regional forces—including the explosion of grassroots demands—that have upended conventional wisdoms without necessarily occasioning new ways of thinking. The conference addressed the changes that have marked the region with a view to developing new paradigms for understanding the challenges and opportunities that now characterize the “new” Middle East. Bringing together an interdisciplinary group of academics in the humanities and social sciences, along with representatives of think tanks and non-governmental organizations, the conference explored the roots and attributes of current crises and assessed the region’s future trajectory through six panels and a keynote address. Our keynote speaker, the first democratically-elected president of post-uprising Tunisia, Moncef Marzouki, gave a compelling presentation addressing both the obstacles to and the potential for greater democratization in the region, while the panels addressed themes ranging from regional and international competition, to the political economy of war and proxy wars, to the durability of crony capitalism, to the sectarianization of politics, to the impact of political changes on the flourishing of new cultural production and innovative artistic expression across the region.

Participant Bios

Conference Abstracts