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The 2016-2017 CIRS Annual Report contains information about all the activities, research initiatives, publications, lectures, and events that CIRS organized throughout the year. Highlights include the publication of five new CIRS books, as well as the initiation of new research initiatives and grant awards.

Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age

Zayani, Mohamed, ed. Digital Middle East: State and Society in the Information Age. London: Hurst, 2017.

In recent years, the Middle East’s information and communication landscape has changed dramatically. Increasingly, states, businesses, and citizens are capitalising on the opportunities offered by new technologies, the fast pace of digitisation, and enhanced connectivity. These changes are far from turning Middle Eastern nations into network societies, but their impact is significant. The growing adoption of a wide variety of technologies in everyday life has given rise to complex dynamics that beg for a better understanding. Digital Middle East sheds a critical light on the continuing changes closely intertwined with the adoption of information and communication technologies in the region. Drawing on case studies from throughout the Middle East, the contributors explore how these digital transformations are playing out in the social, cultural, political, and economic spheres, exposing the various disjunctions and discordances that have marked the advent of the digital Middle East.

Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring

Abi-Mershed, Osama, ed. Social Currents in North Africa: Culture and Governance after the Arab Spring. London: Hurst, 2017.

Social Currents in North Africa is a multi-disciplinary analysis of the social phenomena unfolding in the Maghreb today. The contributors analyse the genealogies of contemporary North African behavioral and ideological norms, and offer insights into post-Arab Spring governance and today’s social and political trends. The book situates regional developments within broader international currents, without forgoing the distinct features of each socio-historical context. With its common historical, cultural, and socio-economic foundations, the Maghreb is a cohesive area of study that allows for greater understanding of domestic developments from both single-country and comparative perspectives.  This volume refines the geo-historical unity of the Maghreb by accounting for social connections, both within the nation-state and across political boundaries and historical eras. It illustrates that non-institutional phenomena are equally formative to the ongoing project of post-colonial sovereignty, to social construction and deployments of state power, and to local outlooks on social equity, economic prospects, and cultural identity.

The Great Game in West Asia cover image

CIRS Summary Report no. 17
2017

The Great Game in West Asia examines the strategic competition between Iran and Turkey for power and influence in the South Caucasus. These neighboring Middle East powers have vied for supremacy and influence throughout the region and especially in their immediate vicinity, while contending with ethnic heterogeneity both within their own territories and across their borders. Turkey has long conceived of itself as not just a bridge between Asia and Europe but in more substantive terms as a central player in regional and global affairs. If somewhat more modest in its public statements, Iran’s parallel ambitions for strategic centrality and influence have only been masked by its own inarticulate foreign policy agendas and the repeated missteps of its revolutionary leaders. But both have sought to deepen their regional influence and power, and in the South Caucasus each has achieved a modicum of success. In fact, as the contributions to this volume demonstrate, as much of the world’s attention has been diverted to conflicts and flashpoints near and far, a new great game has been unravelling between Iran and Turkey in the South Caucasus.

Transitional Justice in the Middle East and North Africa

CIRS Summary Report no. 16
2017

Following the ‘Arab Spring’ uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa, many had high hopes not only for democratization but also for transitional justice to address the myriad abuses that had taken place in the region, both during the uprisings and for decades prior to them. Despite these hopes, most of the transitions in the region have stalled, along with the possibility of transitional justice. This volume is the first to look at this process and brings together leading experts in the fields of human rights and transitional justice, and in the history, politics and justice systems of countries such as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, Bahrain and Morocco. While these countries have diverse histories, political institutions, and experiences with accountability, most have experienced non-transition, stalled transition, or political manipulation of transitional justice measures, highlighting the limits of such mechanisms. These studies should inform reflection not only on the role of transitional justice in the region, but also on challenges to its operation more generally.

The Muslim World

Edited by Islam Hassan and Paul Dyer

This special issue of the Muslim World studies the state of Middle Eastern youth, focusing on the ways in which their experiences continue to shape their worldviews and their priorities. The contribution of this special issue to the burgeoning literature on Middle Eastern youth enhances our understanding of the lives of the young in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, and examines Middle Eastern youth's novel methods of mobilization and its regeneration of a new consciousness. The papers in this special issue are the results of a multi-disciplinary research initiative launched by CIRS in collaboration with Silatech to explore the ways in which youth manage and respond to various socioeconomic and political constraints across the region. As many of the region’s youth are contending with the effects of social and economic exclusion, this project explores the ways in which youth manage and respond to various socioeconomic and political constraints across the region, as well as the potentials of policy to support youth.

Target Markets – International Terrorism Meets Global Capitalism in the Mall

Suzi MirganiTarget Markets: International Terrorism Meets Global Capitalism in the Mall. Bielefeld: Transcript Press, 2016.

This book explores the points of convergence between corporate capitalist and terrorist practice. Assessing an increase in the number of terrorist attacks directed at commercial entities in urban areas, with an emphasis on the shopping mall in general and Nairobi's Westgate Mall in particular, Suzi Mirgani offers a fascinating and disturbing perspective on the spaces where the most powerful forces of contemporary culture – the most mainstream and the most extreme – meet on common ground.

CIRS Newsletter No. 21

CIRS Newsletter 21 was published in Fall 2016. This newsletter highlights all activities including the latest research initiatives, publications, faculty research, as well as conference participation and exhibitions.

YOUTH IN THE MIDDLE EAST

CIRS Summary Report no. 15
2016

While some of MENA’s recent macro-economic and political developments have created further obstacles for the region’s youth, young peoples’ responses to these constraints have differed remarkably. As such, the process by which we expand our understanding of young people should be informed by a wider perspective: the aspirations of youth and their senses of identity as well as the economic and political contexts that confront them. How individuals manage the challenges they face, and how youth mobilize collectively to deal with those overarching constraints faced in the region, are likely influenced by diverse factors related to their gendered, national, urban, tribal, cultural, and religious differences. To explore the underlying causes and consequences of these complexities, CIRS launched a multi-disciplinary research initiative in collaboration with Silatech, a Doha-based and youth-oriented social initiative organization. As many of the region’s youth are contending with the effects of social and economic exclusion, this research explores the ways in which youth manage and respond to various socioeconomic and political constraints across the region, as well as the potentials of policy to support various aspects of youth’s lives. Additionally, this research initiative examines the ways in which Middle Eastern youth collectively regenerate a new consciousness and forge novel methods of mobilization. The original research papers produced as part of this initiative will be published as a special issue of The Muslim World in 2017.

The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf

Ulrichsen, Kristian Coates, ed. The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf. London: Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016.

The contradictory trends of the ‘post-Arab Spring’ landscape form both the backdrop to, and the focus of, this volume on the changing security dynamics of the Persian Gulf, defined as the six GCC states plus Iraq and Iran. The political and economic upheaval triggered by the uprisings of 2011, and the rapid emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in 2014, have underscored the vulnerability of regional states to an intersection of domestic pressures and external shocks. The initial phase of the uprisings has given way to a series of messy and uncertain transitions that have left societies deeply fractured and ignited violence both within and across states. The bulk of the protests, with the notable exception of Bahrain, occurred outside the Gulf region, but Persian Gulf states were at the forefront of the political, economic, and security response across the Middle East.

This volume provides a timely and comparative study of how security in the Persian Gulf has evolved and adapted to the growing uncertainty of the post-2011 regional landscape.