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  1. Understanding Outbound Student Mobility in Lebanon's Sectarian Environment [Download]

    Title: Understanding Outbound Student Mobility in Lebanon's Sectarian Environment
    Author: Sirgi, Youmna
    Description: The multitude of sects in Lebanon, compounded by a decentralized government, has led to a highly fragmented society. Largely influenced by their roles during the state’s historical development, sects maintain different nationalist viewpoints, influencing their political ambitions and decisions. While some argue that Lebanon should form its own national identity, others argue that Lebanon should integrate into the larger Muslim-Arabic fabric of the Middle East. The fragmented government grants each sect more autonomy to dictate its own affairs, including the ability to establish separate school systems and insert divergent nationalist views in schools, limiting the interaction between sects from adolescence onward. However, as students exit the sectarian environment, say to pursue higher education abroad, they are given the independence to reevaluate their bias and articulate their sectarian and nationalist beliefs. This study aims to identify how students’ removal from a sectarian environment influences their biases. Recent scholarship has focused on the impact of sectarianism within Lebanon’s education system. However, in order to determine the depth of students’ sectarian biases, it is important to understand what happens when they are removed from this environment. In order to do so, this study surveys over 75 Lebanese students who are currently attending university in the United States. Questions focus on students’ educational and familial backgrounds, their preexisting notions of sectarianism, and their current perceptions of sectarianism. To fully understand the notion that students’ sectarian and nationalist identities are malleable based on their environment, further research would be required to survey students who have both exited and re-entered Lebanon. That said, the results of this study indicate that sectarian division, which is currently seen as a deep-rooted reality within Lebanon’s society, may be more circumstantial than previously understood.
    Keywords: Research Days 2018, Lebanon, Sectarian division, Middle East
    Date Uploaded: 04/28/2018
  2. Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Afghanistan: A Comparative Analysis of the Failures of International Cultural Property Law [Download]

    Title: Cultural Heritage in Iraq and Afghanistan: A Comparative Analysis of the Failures of International Cultural Property Law
    Author: Kavita, Oza
    Description: In the past decade, international politicians have been obsessively seeking to eliminate the threat of terrorist groups in the arena of politics and power. Though we have come a long way from where we stood twenty years ago, insurgency groups consistently finds alternative methods to fuel their existence. In today’s international and political struggle for power, financing acts of terrorism have approached much more creative methods. International bodies of politics, power and law have become intertwined with the art market. In fact, buyers and sellers are being warned to be extremely cautious handling the transactions involving antiquities arriving from the Middle East or areas of development because of their possible link to ISIL, Al Qaeda, and various other groups. In order words, terrorist organizations are not only looting cultural property from the states in which they operate, but, in order to generate income, they also sell these artifacts. These antiquities often carry a significant, often priceless, historical and cultural meaning to their country of origin. Monetarily, they are also extremely valuable to both a buyer adding to his collection, and a seller increasing his portfolio. And though art dealers may not be keen on supporting any type of transaction involving terrorist organizations, the lack of transparency within the system makes it increasingly hard to tell which potential acquisition has dangerous consequences. Often times, these risky consequences are ignored for the prestige of the possession of such items. Though dealing with art is not the only source of income for terrorist groups, securing any financial acquisitions is imperative to their existence and success. However, the burden of the continued distribution of antiquities does not rest entirely on these organizations. In order for this kind of market to exist, there must be a demand. Indeed, as we have seen over the past decade, art dealers are more than happy to ignore the provenance of certain pieces. Selling these types of antiquities in the black market involves the transfer and handling of a lot of money - millions of US dollars. At this price level, the antiquities are often associated with the prestigious actors or even governments. Too often, state governments do not take actions “required” by the body of international law under which the states carry out their relations with one another. The outcome of this negligence is contributing to the threats posed by and existence of terrorist organizations. In order to evaluate the relationship and overlap between art and international law, this paper will first look cases of art dealing with the United States, Cambodia, and Afghanistan. The paper will point out the actions of these governments and actors within them, notably Hobby Lobby, the Khmer Rouge, and the Taliban, respectively. The paper will then move onto the answer several questions regarding international law relating to each of these cases.
    Keywords: Research Days 2018, International affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, Art history, International law, Middle East, Iraq, Afghanistan, Cultural heritage
    Date Uploaded: 04/14/2018
  3. Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 26 [Download]

    Title: Adaptation Strategies of Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 26
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Long repressed, banned, and exiled, many Islamist movements and parties across the Middle East and North Africa witnessed a moment of electoral success after the 2011 uprisings. Since then, their fates have varied widely. Some have made significant compromises to stay in power, others have ostensibly separated their religious and political efforts, while others have been repressed more brutally than before or have fragmented beyond recognition. What accounts for these actors’ different adaptation strategies and divergent outcomes? Earlier this year, the Project on Middle East Political Science brought together a dozen top scholars for our 4th Annual workshop on Islamist politics to address these questions. Their excellent essays are available individually on the POMEPS website and collectively as POMEPS Studies 26, available now as a free PDF. Many scholars are pushing to move beyond the traditional framing of Islamist movements. Khalil al-Anani challenges the approach that treats Islamist groups as collective entities, and discusses how personal experience of repression can influence individual members in contradicting ways. Likewise, Jillian Schwedler describes how the debate around inclusion (and whether it makes actors more moderate) is now moot as leaders increasingly move toward repression and away from inclusion. Elizabeth R. Nugent, meanwhile, challenges scholars’ tendency to focus on the uniqueness of Islamist groups and encourages future research to compare similar organization operating in moments of political opportunity to help normalize the study of Islamist politics. Eva Wegner uses innovative survey data analysis to rethink the common assumption that voters for Islamist parties are simply registering a protest vote, finding that ideology does, in fact, matter to many voters. Lindsay J. Benstead looks at the effect of the “Islamic mandate effect” on women’s representation, where the level of freedom or regime control influences a party’s ability to deliver on its promises of symbolic and service representation. In Islamic State controlled areas, Mara Revkin and Ariel I. Ahram look at the tenuous social contract in civil war contexts and how civilians – though they may not actually support that paradigm – sometimes use its institutions to speak up and voice criticism. Several authors reveal the careful balancing act that Islamists must maintain to stay in power. Steven Brooke delves into the complicated relationship between Islamist movements’ socio-religious activism and political engagement and attempts – some more successful than others – to separate the two. Quinn Mecham presents the unique case of Morocco’s PJD party, which acts simultaneously a voice of opposition and of the government. Monica Marks examines the Tunisia’s Ennahda highly contested compromise and contention. Nathan J. Brown describes the state’s messy involvement with Islam and its, often inelegant, attempts to craft and control religious messages through its bureaucracy. Annelle Sheline, looks at how regimes have wielded the rhetoric of “moderate Islam” to justify repression of Islamist opponents and seek out aid and support from Western governments. In a study of the Islah party in Yemen, Stacey Philbrick Yadav highlights the internal fracturing of the diverse party and questions western governments’ continued reliance on it. Marc Lynch recognizes the difference between U.S. policy makers who readily “lump” all Islamists into one category and those who more carefully distinguish and operationalize differences among groups. Is the latter necessarily less dangerous? Sharing insightful new research and posing key questions for future scholarship, POMEPS Studies 26 provides an excellent primer into the diverse adaptation strategies of Islamist actors in the Middle East and North Africa.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Islam, Arab Spring
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  4. Refugees and Migration Movements in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 25 [Download]

    Title: Refugees and Migration Movements in the Middle East, POMEPS Studies 25
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: The Middle East has experienced a dramatic flood of refugees and forced migration over the last fifteen years. The UN High Commission on Refugees reports more than 16 million refugees and 60 million displaced persons around the world today, including asylum seekers and the internally displaced. The wars in Syria and Iraq have produced the greatest share of the Middle East’s refugees in recent years, but many more have fled wars and failed states in Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Yemen. Neighboring states have faced severe challenges in absorbing millions of refugees, while North African states and Turkey have emerged as key transit hubs for refugee flows into Europe. To examine the situation of current refugees and exiles in and from the region, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Middle East Studies Program at the University of Southern California with support from its Center for International Studies convened a workshop in February 2017 bringing together a dozen scholars from multiple disciplines. These scholars represent a new wave of scholars conducting original field research from refugee camps and communities in the Middle East, primarily in states bordering Syria and Iraq. Their research demonstrates the transformative impact on every aspect of politics, economies, societies and states of these massive forced population movements, both within and across borders.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Refugees, Forced migration
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  5. Politics, Governance, and Reconstruction in Yemen, POMEPS Studies 29 [Download]

    Title: Politics, Governance, and Reconstruction in Yemen, POMEPS Studies 29
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: 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.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, POMEPS Studies, Yemen
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  6. New Challenges to Public and Policy Engagement, POMEPS Studies 24 [Download]

    Title: New Challenges to Public and Policy Engagement, POMEPS Studies 24
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Engaging and influencing public policy debates on areas of their expertise is a core part of the mission of academics. The last decade has in many ways been the golden age of academic policy engagement. Social media, the proliferation of online publishing platforms, and a generational change in disciplinary norms and practices has unleashed an impressive wave of writing by academics aimed at an informed public sphere. President Donald Trump’s administration poses a sharp challenge to this model of policy engagement on the Middle East. Trump himself has shown little interest in policy issues, and his White House is stocked with individuals whose careers and rhetoric speak to a fundamental disrespect for academic expertise. Cornerstone policies such as the executive orders restricting immigration from Muslim-majority countries demonstrate a profound disregard for academic arguments or data-driven analysis. The White House seems to prefer right wing media outlets as a source of information to America’s own professional intelligence agencies, to say nothing of outside academics. Is it still possible to effectively engage with public policy debates in such an environment? The answer largely depends on the conception of the purpose and process of policy engagement. There continue to be ample opportunities to support and engage with the residual bastions of professional policymakers within the federal bureaucracy. The need to provide rational, reasoned, fact-based analysis to the broader public sphere has taken on profound urgency. And rapidly evolving social movements and civil society initiatives offer ways for academics to engage well beyond traditional policy environments. This public engagement includes working across diverse communities and engaging with the many new social movements and civil society initiatives working on issues relevant to Middle East Studies. The response to Trump’s January 27 executive order on immigration offers a powerful model for such effective action. Academic analysis played a critical role in supporting the social movements and judicial action that forced Trump to back away from the initial order. They worked within their universities to help administrations craft responses, within professional associations such as the Middle East Studies Association, and with civil society organizations coordinating the response. Academic public engagement at this social level should be sustained and expanded. This POMEPS Studies collection brings together analysis of these new challenges facing Middle East political science as an open access PDF. We hope that this special edition helps to inform a new era of academic engagement in the public realm.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Public policy, Policy engagement
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  7. New Analysis of Shia Politics, POMEPS Studies 28 [Download]

    Title: New Analysis of Shia Politics, POMEPS Studies 28
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: 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.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, International relations, Political science, POMEPS Studies, Islam, Islamist, Shi'a, Gulf
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  8. New Islamic Media, POMEPS Studies 23 [Download]

    Title: New Islamic Media, POMEPS Studies 23
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: In years past, Islamist televangelists like Amr Khaled, Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tareq Suwaidan seemed like the future of Arab media. Advancing a form of “soft Islam” focused on personal betterment and religiosity, these preachers were seen by some as a potential counterweight to extremist voices and by others as a sinister leading edge of radicalization. The contretemps between Amr Khaled and Yusuf al-Qaradawi over the Danish Cartoons Crisis of 2006 inspired numerous academic articles (and several of my own blog posts). Today, such figures have become far more marginalized in both political life and in academic research. But as this new collection of essays published by the Project on Middle East Political Science makes clear, they have not disappeared. Their emergence was rooted in the liberalization of media, the appeal of multimedia celebrity, the multiple social movements keen to promote religiosity, and the demands of the marketplace.
    Keywords: POMEPS Studies, Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, Islamic media
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  9. Local Politics and Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 27 [Download]

    Title: Local Politics and Islamist Movements, POMEPS Studies 27
    Author: Lynch, Marc
    Description: Scholars and policymakers have increasingly recognized that Islamist movements and actors vary widely – from domestically oriented, quietist movements engaging in democratic systems to revolutionary, armed movements aiming to upend the nation-state system. Yet little has been done to understand how the nature of individual movements, and their success, often differs substantially at the subnational level. Some communities are much more likely to support different Islamist actors than others, and even the same movement may have very different strategies in some localities than others. Many questions remain regarding if and how Islamist movements and actors look or act differently in rural areas and secondary cities as they do in the capitals. To what extent do the strategies and performance of Islamists vary subnationally? And what explains this variation? To address this gap in understanding, the Project on Middle East Political Science and the Program on Governance and Local Development at the University of Gothenburg convened a workshop in June 2017. In doing so, it extends research on Islamist movements ,which has primarily examined the strategies of movement leaders, the relationship between Islamist movements and social services, the level support for these movements, and the performance of parliamentarian at the national level Yet, as political science as a discipline has increasingly recognized, much of the actual experience of politics takes place outside capital cities and major urban areas and that subnational variation is particularly important. The goal of the workshop was thus to take stock of the knowledge that exists on local Islam, and to point to new avenues of research.
    Keywords: Middle East, North Africa, Political science, International relations, POMEPS Studies, Islam, Islamism, Local politics
    Date Uploaded: 04/07/2018
  10. Sigur Center Asia Report, Issue 13: India's Energy Security Challenges: An Insider's View [Download]

    Title: Sigur Center Asia Report, Issue 13: India's Energy Security Challenges: An Insider's View
    Author: Sigur Center for Asian Studies
    Description: The success of India as a major emerging power in the coming years will rely heavily on its ability to achieve and maintain energy security. Much like China, India's energy demands will continue to present it with difficult choices as the country attempts to balance its development and growing power with a host of environmental and political issues. These include a reliance on oil from unstable areas of the world, a lack of diverse energy options, potential conflict with China, and the adverse environmental effects of Delhi's current energy policies. As a member of India's Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board, Sudha Mahalingam shared her insights on India's energy challenges at a public forum organized by the Rising Powers Initiative at the Sigur Center for Asian Studies in December 2011.
    Keywords: Sigur Center Asia Report, Sigur Center, ESIA, Elliott School of International Affairs, Asian studies, Asia, Foreign affairs, International affairs, Energy security, India, China, Nuclear power, India-China, South China Sea, Oil, Middle East
    Date Uploaded: 02/24/2018