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Middle East Centre

Oxford University

40
Followers
76
Plays
Middle East Centre

Middle East Centre

Oxford University

40
Followers
76
Plays
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About Us

The Middle East Centre, founded in 1957 at St Antony’s College is the centre for the interdisciplinary study of the modern Middle East in the University of Oxford. Centre Fellows teach and conduct research in the humanities and social sciences with direct reference to the Arab world, Iran, Israel and Turkey, with particular emphasis on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, during our regular Friday seminar series, attracting a wide audience, our distinguished speakers bring topics to light that touch on contemporary issues.

Latest Episodes

Apocalymbo: Trickster Politics in the Age of the Pandemic (and Other Crises)

Walter Armbrust (St Antony’s College, Oxford), author of Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series on 20th November 2020. Chaired by Dr Michael Willis (St Anthony's College, Oxford) Professor Walter Armbrust is a Hourani Fellow and Professor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He is a cultural anthropologist, and author of Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (1996); Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019); and various other works focusing on popular culture, politics and mass media in Egypt. He is editor of Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond (2000). Abstract: When the Covid-19 pandemic began many people thought that a virus-induced apocalypse, while painful, provided a chance to rethink and fix everything from school funding to global warming. Yet as the initial effervescence of our entry into the liminality of lockdown dragged into a dreary limbo, darker possibilities emerged. The rich grew richer; once laughable conspiracy theories became politically weaponized; the environment became less important than economic recovery; and in this country, Covid-induced economic distress has provided perfect cover for getting the hardest of Brexits done. A crisis, real or perceived, produces real change - just not the sort of change progressive activists may have envisioned, as the Egyptian revolutionaries I wrote about in Martyrs and Tricksters discovered to their dismay. Indeed, crisis provides ideal conditions for the flourishing of tricksters in mainstream politics, and many a trickster politician harbours the kernel of an authoritarian. My talk explores links between crisis and authoritarianism in the Middle East, but also more widely, and not only in the context of Covid (though it provides an excellent point of entry to my topic), but also in longer historical and social contexts. There may well be a “dictatorship syndrome,” as Dr al-Aswany’s book suggests, but the institutionalization of dictators and the habituation of populations to their rule is only part of the story. Dictators are often born from crisis as tricksters. Hitler started as a trickster. Donald Trump is perhaps the clearest instantiation of a trickster politician in history. Some crises are unforeseeable - earthquakes, pandemics, revolutions for example. Others are increasingly structured, economically and by communication technologies. We tend not to think of the economy as intrinsically crisis-prone, though perhaps we should, given the dominance of capitalism and its requirement for constant disruptive change and expansion. The crisis potential of media technologies is easier to imagine when we have so close at hand the wreckage of whiplashing from hopeful “Facebook Revolutions” to propagandistic “Fake News” in the space of a decade. In the end the notion of a dictatorship syndrome in the Middle East perhaps distracts us from the much greater danger of an authoritarian virus spreading throughout the world. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

57 min5 d ago
Comments
Apocalymbo: Trickster Politics in the Age of the Pandemic (and Other Crises)

‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom

Benjamin Dubrulle (Maison Française d'Oxford), gives a seminar for the MEC Women's Rights Research Seminars. Chaired by Dr Soraya Tremayne (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford) on 18th November 2020. ‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom In the last ten years, mosques welcoming believers regardless of their gender and sexuality have been established in France and the United Kingdom. Known as ‘inclusive mosques’, these spaces are managed by both heterosexual and queer women who aim at practicing Islam outside of patriarchal constraints. Based on recent ethnographic data, this seminar will explore the different forms of pastoral care provided by Muslim women in these spaces for their community. Islamic feminism is a major component of pastoral care in the British context. Through various events -monthly feminist discussion groups, Jumma, conferences- queer Muslim women in the United Kingdom produce and share religious knowledge relevant to their experiences and struggles. Taking into account their specific vulnerability enables them to design relevant emancipatory practices. In France, a new inclusive mosque reclaims the French tradition of laïcité. Staying away from identity politics enables these women to focus on the universal values of justice in Islam. Despite material and spiritual obstacles that will be examined, these women seek to fight existing discriminations within local communities through radical inclusivity. Their theological work based on the Quran aims at promoting gender justice and recognition of sexual diversity. Ultimately, these projects seek to protect the local community against both queer-phobia and islamophobia, and unify the oumma. Bio: Benjamin Dubrulle is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the EHESS (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris, under the supervision of Dr. Céline Béraud. He is also a member of the CéSor (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences of Religion) at the CNRS and is currently in residency at the Maison Française d’Oxford. Benjamin Dubrulle is a member of the Jewish-Muslim Research Network. His research is situated at the intersection of social sciences of religion, gender studies and queer studies. It focuses on initiatives designed by Muslim communities to promote gender equality and sexual diversity within an Islamic framework. Dubrulle has a particular interest in democracy and secularism, and the way politics impact lived experiences of Muslim minorities on the ground.

44 min6 d ago
Comments
‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom

The Trajectory of the Tunisian Revolution: between Continuities and Disjunctures

Professor Sami Zemni (Ghent) gives a talk on the Tunisian Revolution on its 10 year anniversary. Part of the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series, chaired by Dr Michael Willis (St Anthony's College). On the eve of its ten year anniversary, Sami Zemni reflects on the outcomes of the Tunisian Revolution. Touted as the only success story of the Arab Uprisings, Tunisia is facing a major economic crisis, social instability and political paralysis while nostalgia for authoritarian rule seems on the rise. Is there anything to celebrate? Sami Zemni is professor of Political and Social Sciences at Ghent University (Belgium) where he heads the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG). His research focuses on issues of political change in North Africa (Morocco and Tunisia), more specifically he currently focuses on processes of marginalization and uneven development leading to different forms of urban and rural resistance.

57 min1 w ago
Comments
The Trajectory of the Tunisian Revolution: between Continuities and Disjunctures

The New Populist nationalism in Saudi Arabia

Madawi Al-Rasheed (KCL and LSE), author of Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia (2018) and Ben Hubbard (The New York Times), author of MBS: The Rise to Power of MBS (2020) give a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. Chair ed by Dr Usaama Al-Azami (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) The seminar discusses the simultaneous phenomena of reform and repression in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Muhammad ibn Salman. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has seen swift social and economic changes, including women being granted the right to drive and efforts to diversify the economy. The same period has also seen waves of detention, heightened restrictions on free speech and the flight of Saudis abroad. How will these changes interact as Saudi Arabia moves forward?

57 min1 w ago
Comments
The New Populist nationalism in Saudi Arabia

Illiberal Liberals and the Future of Dictatorship in Egypt

Dalia Fahmy (Long Island University) editor of Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (2017), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. This talk will address the dictatorship syndrome specifically through the lens of liberalism in Egypt. It will seek to address why a particular denomination of Egyptian liberalism, despite at face value being wholly opposed to dictatorship, ultimately proved susceptible to the allures of the dictatorship syndrome in the aftermath of the events of 2013 in Egypt. Also on the panel is Daanish Faruqi (Duke), editor of Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (2017) Chaired by Dr Usaama Al-Azami (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) Dr. Dalia Fahmy Bio: Dr. Dalia Fahmy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University and Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington DC. Dr. Fahmy's books: “The Rise and Fall of The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam” (undercontract), and co-edited volumes “Arab Spring: Modernity, Identity and Change,” “Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy,” and “International Relations in a Changing World”, cover her research areas. Daanish Faruqi Bio: Daanish Faruqi is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University, and a doctoral candidate (ABD) in History at Duke University. A scholar of Middle Eastern and Islamic history, with a particular emphasis on Islamic political thought, he had previously spent several years in the Arab Middle East as a researcher and journalist, which gave rise to two books, most recently Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (co-edited with Dalia F. Fahmy). His work straddles between classical and contemporary Islamic thought, with a particular emphasis on the Maghrib region on the one hand and on the Levant on the other hand. Most recently his work investigates transnational politically activist strands of Sufi mysticism, tracing their diasporic origins in the colonial Maghrib to their ultimate migration to late-Ottoman Syria, to their most recent role in the 2011 Syrian revolution. A recognized subject matter expert, Faruqi has given talks and symposia on his research at the UCLA Law School, Georgetown University, the National Press Club, and other institutions. Additionally, he is a frequent journalist and commentator on the politics of the Middle East, having published in Al Jazeera English, Foreign Policy, CommonDreams.org, USC-Annenberg/Religion Dispatches, among other media outlets.

60 min2 w ago
Comments
Illiberal Liberals and the Future of Dictatorship in Egypt

Challenging the Limited View - The Case of the Women in Mosques Movement

Part of the Middle East Centre Women's Rights Research Seminars. With Dr Mine Yildirim Chair: Dr Nazila Ghanea (Department for Continuing Education,University of Oxford). The place of women in the religious space of mosques in Turkey has been a long debate- more so recently. The Women in Mosques Movement’s challenge of the quality of space allocated for women in mosques led to strong criticism but also aroused genuine discussion about the deeply held beliefs underlying the place given to women as well as the space women carve out for themselves. The seminar will explore the implications of international human rights law, particularly women’s right to freedom of religion or belief, for the key demands of the Women in Mosques Movement. Bio – Dr. Mine YILDIRIM is the Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Freedom of Belief Initiative project and Member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. She a scholar of human rights law and an expert on international protection of freedom of religion or belief. She is the founder of the Freedom of Belief Initiative, and works with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on this Initiative monitoring and reporting on freedom of religion or belief in Turkey. Yildirim is a member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Her work covers different facets of religious freedom, including the collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief, gender dimension of freedom of religion or belief, religious minorities and freedom of religion or belief in education. She was the co-recipient of the Stefanus Prize in 2016. She received her doctoral degree at AAbo Akademi Institute for Human Rights with her thesis on the collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief. Her doctoral thesis is published as a book entitled The Collective Dimension of Freedom of Religion: A Case Study on Turkey. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the academic journal Religion & Human Rights and has published extensively in academic journals and contributes to Forum 18. She has served as a consultant on numerous international projects.

30 min3 w ago
Comments
Challenging the Limited View - The Case of the Women in Mosques Movement

Authoritarian or Revolutionary? Reflections on the Nature of the State in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Maryam Alemzadeh (Princeton) Siavush Randjbar-Daemi (St Andrews), author of The Quest for Authority in Iran: a history of the presidency from revolution to Rouhani (2017), give a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. Chaired Professor Edmund Herzig (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) Scholars have shown the dictatorial function of the parallel political system of the Islamic Republic: although the authoritarian office of supreme leadership and the security apparatuses strictly limit the quasi-democratic institutions (i.e. the presidency and the parliament), they avert any criticism of the government’s malfunction to the latter, thereby saving ideological face among dedicated supporters. In this functionalist explanation of the dual system of power, the qualitative difference of the two sides’ working mechanisms goes unnoticed. In this talk I address the organizational dynamics of the nonconventional section of state in Iran, with a special focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. I demonstrate that behind the security apparatus Panopticon and its capillary power lies a “revolutionary” institution—one that tolerates and encourages revolutionary direct action, thereby sustaining a sizable popular base over the years. The popular base is not necessarily brainwashed to serve the state. Rather, I argue, institutions of power keep it committed and interested by authorizing spontaneous, direct action, even though revolutionary times are long passed. Maryam Alemzadeh-Bio Maryam Alemzadeh is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. She earned her PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago in 2018, and has previously worked as the Grinspoon Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. Maryam is a historical and cultural sociologist of revolutions, state building, and grassroots militias, specializing on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Based on detailed historical findings, she writes about cultural practices as a sociologist, and about contemporary US-Middle East politics as an Iran expert. Her work has appeared in the British Journal of Middle East Studies and Foreign Affairs, among other places.

52 min3 w ago
Comments
Authoritarian or Revolutionary? Reflections on the Nature of the State in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Dictatorship Syndrome

Alaa Al Aswany, author of The Dictatorship Syndrome (2019), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre seminar series. Chaired by Professor Eugene Rogan (St Antony's College, Oxford) Alaa Al Aswany is Egypt’s most celebrated novelist and essayist whose books are runaway bestsellers in Arabic and have been translated into more than 30 languages. His second novel, The Yacoubian Building (2002) established Al Aswany as a global literary figure. This was followed by Chicago (2007), The Automobile Club (2013), and most recently, The So-called Republic (2018). A newspaper columnist until he was banned from publishing by the Egyptian government, Al Aswany has published a number of works of non-fiction treating on current affairs, including On the State of Egypt: What Made the Revolution Inevitable (2011), and Democracy is the Answer: Egypt’s Years of Revolution (2015). His most recent book is The Dictatorship Syndrome (2020), where he considers the conditions, signs, symptoms, and cures for what he terms the malady of dictatorship. The study of dictatorship in the West has acquired an almost exotic dimension. But authoritarian regimes remain a painful reality for billions of people worldwide who still live under them, their freedoms violated and their rights abused. They are subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, corruption, ignorance, and injustice. What is the nature of dictatorship? How does it take hold? In what conditions and circumstances is it permitted to thrive? And how do dictators retain power, even when reviled and mocked by those they govern? In this deeply considered and at times provocative short work, Alaa Al Aswany tells us that, as with any disease, to understand the syndrome of dictatorship we must first consider the circumstances of its emergence, along with the symptoms and complications it causes in both the people and the dictator.

53 minOCT 23
Comments
The Dictatorship Syndrome

Refugee Studies Centre: Book launch - Palestinian Refugees in International Law

Book launch for the new book Palestinian Refugees in International Law by Lex Takkenberg and Francesca Albanese. Lex Takkenberg (Former chief of the Ethics Office at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) Francesca Albanese (The Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University) The Palestinian refugee question, resulting from the events surrounding the creation of the state of Israel over seventy years ago, remains one of the largest, most protracted, and most politically fraught refugee questions of the post-WWII era. Numbering over seven million in the Middle East alone, Palestinian refugees’ status varies considerably according to the state or territory ‘hosting’ them, the UN agency assisting them and political circumstances surrounding the Question of Palestine. International law, while being crucial to the protection of these refugees, remains marginal in political discussions concerning their fate. This new book, building on t...

57 minAPR 2
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Refugee Studies Centre: Book launch - Palestinian Refugees in International Law

The Saudi Arabia of Muhammad bin Salman: How Much Change?

Professor Gregory Gause (Head of International Affairs Department, The Bush School of Government and Public Service) gives a talk on Saudi Arabia crown prince Muhammad bin Salman. Introduced by Dr Toby Matthiesen (St. Antony's College, Oxford. Since his father King Salman assumed the throne in 2015, his son Prince Muhammad bin Salman has been the driving force behind Saudi domestic and foreign policy, since 2017 as crown prince. While it is incontestable that the young prince has made substantial changes in the kingdom, just how significant and lasting will they be? This talk will explore this question in four areas: economic policy, social policy, regional foreign policy and the politics of the ruling family. F. Gregory Gause, III is Professor and John H. Lindsey '44 Chair of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A and M University, as well as serving as head of School's Department of International Affairs and as an affiliate faculty member of the School's Albritton Center for Grand Strategy. He was previously on the faculties of the University of Vermont (1995-2014) and Columbia University (1987-1995) and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1993-1994). During the 2009-10 academic year he was Kuwait Foundation Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In spring 2009 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University in Kuwait. In spring 2010 he was a research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From 2012 to 2015 he was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. His research focuses on the international politics of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, and American foreign policy toward the region. He has published three books, most recently The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Middle East Journal, Security Studies, Journal of Democracy, Washington Quarterly, National Interest, and in other journals and edited volumes. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University in 1987 and his B.A. (summa cum laude) from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia in 1980. He studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo (1982-83) and Middlebury College (1984).

47 minFEB 25
Comments
The Saudi Arabia of Muhammad bin Salman: How Much Change?

Latest Episodes

Apocalymbo: Trickster Politics in the Age of the Pandemic (and Other Crises)

Walter Armbrust (St Antony’s College, Oxford), author of Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series on 20th November 2020. Chaired by Dr Michael Willis (St Anthony's College, Oxford) Professor Walter Armbrust is a Hourani Fellow and Professor in Modern Middle Eastern Studies. He is a cultural anthropologist, and author of Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (1996); Martyrs and Tricksters: An Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution (2019); and various other works focusing on popular culture, politics and mass media in Egypt. He is editor of Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond (2000). Abstract: When the Covid-19 pandemic began many people thought that a virus-induced apocalypse, while painful, provided a chance to rethink and fix everything from school funding to global warming. Yet as the initial effervescence of our entry into the liminality of lockdown dragged into a dreary limbo, darker possibilities emerged. The rich grew richer; once laughable conspiracy theories became politically weaponized; the environment became less important than economic recovery; and in this country, Covid-induced economic distress has provided perfect cover for getting the hardest of Brexits done. A crisis, real or perceived, produces real change - just not the sort of change progressive activists may have envisioned, as the Egyptian revolutionaries I wrote about in Martyrs and Tricksters discovered to their dismay. Indeed, crisis provides ideal conditions for the flourishing of tricksters in mainstream politics, and many a trickster politician harbours the kernel of an authoritarian. My talk explores links between crisis and authoritarianism in the Middle East, but also more widely, and not only in the context of Covid (though it provides an excellent point of entry to my topic), but also in longer historical and social contexts. There may well be a “dictatorship syndrome,” as Dr al-Aswany’s book suggests, but the institutionalization of dictators and the habituation of populations to their rule is only part of the story. Dictators are often born from crisis as tricksters. Hitler started as a trickster. Donald Trump is perhaps the clearest instantiation of a trickster politician in history. Some crises are unforeseeable - earthquakes, pandemics, revolutions for example. Others are increasingly structured, economically and by communication technologies. We tend not to think of the economy as intrinsically crisis-prone, though perhaps we should, given the dominance of capitalism and its requirement for constant disruptive change and expansion. The crisis potential of media technologies is easier to imagine when we have so close at hand the wreckage of whiplashing from hopeful “Facebook Revolutions” to propagandistic “Fake News” in the space of a decade. In the end the notion of a dictatorship syndrome in the Middle East perhaps distracts us from the much greater danger of an authoritarian virus spreading throughout the world. Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales; http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/uk/

57 min5 d ago
Comments
Apocalymbo: Trickster Politics in the Age of the Pandemic (and Other Crises)

‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom

Benjamin Dubrulle (Maison Française d'Oxford), gives a seminar for the MEC Women's Rights Research Seminars. Chaired by Dr Soraya Tremayne (School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford) on 18th November 2020. ‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom In the last ten years, mosques welcoming believers regardless of their gender and sexuality have been established in France and the United Kingdom. Known as ‘inclusive mosques’, these spaces are managed by both heterosexual and queer women who aim at practicing Islam outside of patriarchal constraints. Based on recent ethnographic data, this seminar will explore the different forms of pastoral care provided by Muslim women in these spaces for their community. Islamic feminism is a major component of pastoral care in the British context. Through various events -monthly feminist discussion groups, Jumma, conferences- queer Muslim women in the United Kingdom produce and share religious knowledge relevant to their experiences and struggles. Taking into account their specific vulnerability enables them to design relevant emancipatory practices. In France, a new inclusive mosque reclaims the French tradition of laïcité. Staying away from identity politics enables these women to focus on the universal values of justice in Islam. Despite material and spiritual obstacles that will be examined, these women seek to fight existing discriminations within local communities through radical inclusivity. Their theological work based on the Quran aims at promoting gender justice and recognition of sexual diversity. Ultimately, these projects seek to protect the local community against both queer-phobia and islamophobia, and unify the oumma. Bio: Benjamin Dubrulle is currently a PhD candidate in sociology at the EHESS (School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences) in Paris, under the supervision of Dr. Céline Béraud. He is also a member of the CéSor (Centre for Studies in Social Sciences of Religion) at the CNRS and is currently in residency at the Maison Française d’Oxford. Benjamin Dubrulle is a member of the Jewish-Muslim Research Network. His research is situated at the intersection of social sciences of religion, gender studies and queer studies. It focuses on initiatives designed by Muslim communities to promote gender equality and sexual diversity within an Islamic framework. Dubrulle has a particular interest in democracy and secularism, and the way politics impact lived experiences of Muslim minorities on the ground.

44 min6 d ago
Comments
‘God Does not Discriminate’: Inclusive Mosques Politics in France and the United Kingdom

The Trajectory of the Tunisian Revolution: between Continuities and Disjunctures

Professor Sami Zemni (Ghent) gives a talk on the Tunisian Revolution on its 10 year anniversary. Part of the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series, chaired by Dr Michael Willis (St Anthony's College). On the eve of its ten year anniversary, Sami Zemni reflects on the outcomes of the Tunisian Revolution. Touted as the only success story of the Arab Uprisings, Tunisia is facing a major economic crisis, social instability and political paralysis while nostalgia for authoritarian rule seems on the rise. Is there anything to celebrate? Sami Zemni is professor of Political and Social Sciences at Ghent University (Belgium) where he heads the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG). His research focuses on issues of political change in North Africa (Morocco and Tunisia), more specifically he currently focuses on processes of marginalization and uneven development leading to different forms of urban and rural resistance.

57 min1 w ago
Comments
The Trajectory of the Tunisian Revolution: between Continuities and Disjunctures

The New Populist nationalism in Saudi Arabia

Madawi Al-Rasheed (KCL and LSE), author of Salman’s Legacy: The Dilemmas of a New Era in Saudi Arabia (2018) and Ben Hubbard (The New York Times), author of MBS: The Rise to Power of MBS (2020) give a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. Chair ed by Dr Usaama Al-Azami (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) The seminar discusses the simultaneous phenomena of reform and repression in Saudi Arabia under Crown Prince Muhammad ibn Salman. In recent years, Saudi Arabia has seen swift social and economic changes, including women being granted the right to drive and efforts to diversify the economy. The same period has also seen waves of detention, heightened restrictions on free speech and the flight of Saudis abroad. How will these changes interact as Saudi Arabia moves forward?

57 min1 w ago
Comments
The New Populist nationalism in Saudi Arabia

Illiberal Liberals and the Future of Dictatorship in Egypt

Dalia Fahmy (Long Island University) editor of Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (2017), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. This talk will address the dictatorship syndrome specifically through the lens of liberalism in Egypt. It will seek to address why a particular denomination of Egyptian liberalism, despite at face value being wholly opposed to dictatorship, ultimately proved susceptible to the allures of the dictatorship syndrome in the aftermath of the events of 2013 in Egypt. Also on the panel is Daanish Faruqi (Duke), editor of Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (2017) Chaired by Dr Usaama Al-Azami (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) Dr. Dalia Fahmy Bio: Dr. Dalia Fahmy is Associate Professor of Political Science at Long Island University and Senior Non-Resident Fellow at the Center for Global Policy in Washington DC. Dr. Fahmy's books: “The Rise and Fall of The Muslim Brotherhood and the Future of Political Islam” (undercontract), and co-edited volumes “Arab Spring: Modernity, Identity and Change,” “Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy,” and “International Relations in a Changing World”, cover her research areas. Daanish Faruqi Bio: Daanish Faruqi is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Genocide and Human Rights (CGHR) at Rutgers University, and a doctoral candidate (ABD) in History at Duke University. A scholar of Middle Eastern and Islamic history, with a particular emphasis on Islamic political thought, he had previously spent several years in the Arab Middle East as a researcher and journalist, which gave rise to two books, most recently Egypt and the Contradictions of Liberalism: Illiberal Intelligentsia and the Future of Egyptian Democracy (co-edited with Dalia F. Fahmy). His work straddles between classical and contemporary Islamic thought, with a particular emphasis on the Maghrib region on the one hand and on the Levant on the other hand. Most recently his work investigates transnational politically activist strands of Sufi mysticism, tracing their diasporic origins in the colonial Maghrib to their ultimate migration to late-Ottoman Syria, to their most recent role in the 2011 Syrian revolution. A recognized subject matter expert, Faruqi has given talks and symposia on his research at the UCLA Law School, Georgetown University, the National Press Club, and other institutions. Additionally, he is a frequent journalist and commentator on the politics of the Middle East, having published in Al Jazeera English, Foreign Policy, CommonDreams.org, USC-Annenberg/Religion Dispatches, among other media outlets.

60 min2 w ago
Comments
Illiberal Liberals and the Future of Dictatorship in Egypt

Challenging the Limited View - The Case of the Women in Mosques Movement

Part of the Middle East Centre Women's Rights Research Seminars. With Dr Mine Yildirim Chair: Dr Nazila Ghanea (Department for Continuing Education,University of Oxford). The place of women in the religious space of mosques in Turkey has been a long debate- more so recently. The Women in Mosques Movement’s challenge of the quality of space allocated for women in mosques led to strong criticism but also aroused genuine discussion about the deeply held beliefs underlying the place given to women as well as the space women carve out for themselves. The seminar will explore the implications of international human rights law, particularly women’s right to freedom of religion or belief, for the key demands of the Women in Mosques Movement. Bio – Dr. Mine YILDIRIM is the Head of the Norwegian Helsinki Committee’s Freedom of Belief Initiative project and Member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. She a scholar of human rights law and an expert on international protection of freedom of religion or belief. She is the founder of the Freedom of Belief Initiative, and works with the Norwegian Helsinki Committee on this Initiative monitoring and reporting on freedom of religion or belief in Turkey. Yildirim is a member of the OSCE/ODIHR Panel of Experts on Freedom of Religion or Belief. Her work covers different facets of religious freedom, including the collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief, gender dimension of freedom of religion or belief, religious minorities and freedom of religion or belief in education. She was the co-recipient of the Stefanus Prize in 2016. She received her doctoral degree at AAbo Akademi Institute for Human Rights with her thesis on the collective dimension of freedom of religion or belief. Her doctoral thesis is published as a book entitled The Collective Dimension of Freedom of Religion: A Case Study on Turkey. She is a member of the Editorial Board of the academic journal Religion & Human Rights and has published extensively in academic journals and contributes to Forum 18. She has served as a consultant on numerous international projects.

30 min3 w ago
Comments
Challenging the Limited View - The Case of the Women in Mosques Movement

Authoritarian or Revolutionary? Reflections on the Nature of the State in the Islamic Republic of Iran

Maryam Alemzadeh (Princeton) Siavush Randjbar-Daemi (St Andrews), author of The Quest for Authority in Iran: a history of the presidency from revolution to Rouhani (2017), give a talk for the Middle East Centre Friday Seminar Series. Chaired Professor Edmund Herzig (Faculty of Oriental Studies, Oxford) Scholars have shown the dictatorial function of the parallel political system of the Islamic Republic: although the authoritarian office of supreme leadership and the security apparatuses strictly limit the quasi-democratic institutions (i.e. the presidency and the parliament), they avert any criticism of the government’s malfunction to the latter, thereby saving ideological face among dedicated supporters. In this functionalist explanation of the dual system of power, the qualitative difference of the two sides’ working mechanisms goes unnoticed. In this talk I address the organizational dynamics of the nonconventional section of state in Iran, with a special focus on the Islamic Revolutionary Guards. I demonstrate that behind the security apparatus Panopticon and its capillary power lies a “revolutionary” institution—one that tolerates and encourages revolutionary direct action, thereby sustaining a sizable popular base over the years. The popular base is not necessarily brainwashed to serve the state. Rather, I argue, institutions of power keep it committed and interested by authorizing spontaneous, direct action, even though revolutionary times are long passed. Maryam Alemzadeh-Bio Maryam Alemzadeh is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at Princeton University's Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Iran and Persian Gulf Studies. She earned her PhD in sociology at the University of Chicago in 2018, and has previously worked as the Grinspoon Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. Maryam is a historical and cultural sociologist of revolutions, state building, and grassroots militias, specializing on Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps. Based on detailed historical findings, she writes about cultural practices as a sociologist, and about contemporary US-Middle East politics as an Iran expert. Her work has appeared in the British Journal of Middle East Studies and Foreign Affairs, among other places.

52 min3 w ago
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Authoritarian or Revolutionary? Reflections on the Nature of the State in the Islamic Republic of Iran

The Dictatorship Syndrome

Alaa Al Aswany, author of The Dictatorship Syndrome (2019), gives a talk for the Middle East Centre seminar series. Chaired by Professor Eugene Rogan (St Antony's College, Oxford) Alaa Al Aswany is Egypt’s most celebrated novelist and essayist whose books are runaway bestsellers in Arabic and have been translated into more than 30 languages. His second novel, The Yacoubian Building (2002) established Al Aswany as a global literary figure. This was followed by Chicago (2007), The Automobile Club (2013), and most recently, The So-called Republic (2018). A newspaper columnist until he was banned from publishing by the Egyptian government, Al Aswany has published a number of works of non-fiction treating on current affairs, including On the State of Egypt: What Made the Revolution Inevitable (2011), and Democracy is the Answer: Egypt’s Years of Revolution (2015). His most recent book is The Dictatorship Syndrome (2020), where he considers the conditions, signs, symptoms, and cures for what he terms the malady of dictatorship. The study of dictatorship in the West has acquired an almost exotic dimension. But authoritarian regimes remain a painful reality for billions of people worldwide who still live under them, their freedoms violated and their rights abused. They are subject to arbitrary arrest, torture, corruption, ignorance, and injustice. What is the nature of dictatorship? How does it take hold? In what conditions and circumstances is it permitted to thrive? And how do dictators retain power, even when reviled and mocked by those they govern? In this deeply considered and at times provocative short work, Alaa Al Aswany tells us that, as with any disease, to understand the syndrome of dictatorship we must first consider the circumstances of its emergence, along with the symptoms and complications it causes in both the people and the dictator.

53 minOCT 23
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The Dictatorship Syndrome

Refugee Studies Centre: Book launch - Palestinian Refugees in International Law

Book launch for the new book Palestinian Refugees in International Law by Lex Takkenberg and Francesca Albanese. Lex Takkenberg (Former chief of the Ethics Office at the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees) Francesca Albanese (The Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University) The Palestinian refugee question, resulting from the events surrounding the creation of the state of Israel over seventy years ago, remains one of the largest, most protracted, and most politically fraught refugee questions of the post-WWII era. Numbering over seven million in the Middle East alone, Palestinian refugees’ status varies considerably according to the state or territory ‘hosting’ them, the UN agency assisting them and political circumstances surrounding the Question of Palestine. International law, while being crucial to the protection of these refugees, remains marginal in political discussions concerning their fate. This new book, building on t...

57 minAPR 2
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Refugee Studies Centre: Book launch - Palestinian Refugees in International Law

The Saudi Arabia of Muhammad bin Salman: How Much Change?

Professor Gregory Gause (Head of International Affairs Department, The Bush School of Government and Public Service) gives a talk on Saudi Arabia crown prince Muhammad bin Salman. Introduced by Dr Toby Matthiesen (St. Antony's College, Oxford. Since his father King Salman assumed the throne in 2015, his son Prince Muhammad bin Salman has been the driving force behind Saudi domestic and foreign policy, since 2017 as crown prince. While it is incontestable that the young prince has made substantial changes in the kingdom, just how significant and lasting will they be? This talk will explore this question in four areas: economic policy, social policy, regional foreign policy and the politics of the ruling family. F. Gregory Gause, III is Professor and John H. Lindsey '44 Chair of International Affairs at the Bush School of Government and Public Service, Texas A and M University, as well as serving as head of School's Department of International Affairs and as an affiliate faculty member of the School's Albritton Center for Grand Strategy. He was previously on the faculties of the University of Vermont (1995-2014) and Columbia University (1987-1995) and was Fellow for Arab and Islamic Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York (1993-1994). During the 2009-10 academic year he was Kuwait Foundation Visiting Professor of International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. In spring 2009 he was a Fulbright Scholar at the American University in Kuwait. In spring 2010 he was a research fellow at the King Faisal Center for Islamic Studies and Research in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. From 2012 to 2015 he was a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Doha Center. His research focuses on the international politics of the Middle East, particularly the Arabian Peninsula and the Persian Gulf, and American foreign policy toward the region. He has published three books, most recently The International Relations of the Persian Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 2010). His articles have appeared in Foreign Affairs, Foreign Policy, Middle East Journal, Security Studies, Journal of Democracy, Washington Quarterly, National Interest, and in other journals and edited volumes. He received his Ph.D. in political science from Harvard University in 1987 and his B.A. (summa cum laude) from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia in 1980. He studied Arabic at the American University in Cairo (1982-83) and Middlebury College (1984).

47 minFEB 25
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The Saudi Arabia of Muhammad bin Salman: How Much Change?
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