In conjunction with its research initiatives, CIRS produces Summary Reports, which contain background information about CIRS research initiatives, collections of paper synopses delivered at CIRS working group meetings, as well as participant biographies.
CIRS Summary Report no. 17
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.
CIRS Summary Report no. 16
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.
CIRS Summary Report no. 15
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.
CIRS Summary Report no. 14
The CIRS research initiative on media and politics in the aftermath of the Arab revolts has resulted in an edited volume, Bullets and Bulletins: Media and Politics in the Wake of the Arab Uprisings (Oxford University Press/Hurst, 2016), offering critical examination into the profound sociopolitical and media transitions that have occurred within Arab states during and in the wake of the uprisings. It explores the intricate ways in which politics and media intersect in their representation and negotiation of political resistance and cultural production in a shifting Arab world. By analyzing different aspects of Arab mediascapes—transformations in the culture of Arab journalism, the construction of media cities, the rise of religious media, and the attention to subcultures and public diplomacy—this volume provides insights into the changing political dynamics of the region, and maps out the rearticulation of power relations between state and society. The chapters adopt a multidisciplinary approach in their analyses of the changing dynamics of media and politics before, during, and in the aftermath of the revolts.
CIRS Summary Report no. 13
The CIRS research initiative on “The Evolution of Gulf Global Cities” examines dynamics of urban configurations in the Gulf region (the GCC, Yemen, Iraq, and Iran) in order to understand the city as a cultural and social space. Over the course of two working group meetings, CIRS invited academics from various disciplinary backgrounds as well as architects, urban planners, and designers to discuss their research findings and to present papers linking macro-level knowledge of urbanization and modernization projects in the Gulf with the micro-level understanding of everyday spaces of living and human interaction. The chapters are combined into an edited volume titled, Gateways to the World: Port Cities in the Persian Gulf (Oxford University Press, 2016).
CIRS Summary Report no. 12
In recent years, migration to the GCC has attracted increasing journalistic attention, and a growing body of scholarship from academics. What has gone almost completely unnoticed, however, is the regional, intra-Arab aspect of the phenomenon. Migration into the Gulf region from other Arab countries by far outdates more recent, and comparatively more temporary, migratory patterns from South Asia and Western Europe. Not only are Arab migratory patterns into the GCC comparatively and qualitatively different from other similar patterns, the historical setting within which they have unfolded, the processes through which they have taken place, and their economic, sociological, and political consequences have all been different. The CIRS research initiative on "Arab Migrant Communities in the GCC" examines the dynamics involved in the emergence of Arab migrant communities in the Gulf region, focusing specifically on how they came about, their overall sociological compositions and economic profiles, and the causes, processes, and consequences of their interactions with, and integration within, the host countries.
CIRS Summary Report no. 11
The CIRS Summary Report titled, Fragile Politics: Weak States in the Greater Middle East, details the findings of the larger CIRS research initiative on "Weak States in the Greater Middle East." It begins with a critical analysis of current definitions and terminology of weak and fragile states, scrutinizing the political implications of the prevailing discourse within the setting of the broader Middle East. The research also examines the domestic, regional, and global causes and consequences for the Middle East of the “fragility” of states stretching from Afghanistan and Pakistan in the east to Libya in the west. Employing multidisciplinary perspectives, we study the causes and implications of conceptual notions of state fragility across the region in relation to areas such as politics and security, economics and natural resources, intra- and inter-state relations, migration and population movements, and the broader regional and global political economies.
CIRS Summary Report no. 9
The "Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East" Summary Report details the CIRS research initiative on “The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East" to scrutinize the ways in which domestic political arrangements in the Middle East are evolving, and how the authoritarian bargains are being challenged. This project brings together a number of distinguished scholars to examine a variety of relevant topics and to contribute original chapters to the CIRS book titled, Beyond the Arab Spring: The Evolving Ruling Bargain in the Middle East (Hurst, 2014), edited by Mehran Kamrava).
Some of the areas addressed include: the need for modifying theoretical paradigms explaining authoritarian perseverance in the Middle East; the role of key actors and institutions (the role of the military, the bureaucracy, the ruling party, and opposition figures); evolving sources of political legitimacy; the dynamics of the domestic and international political economy, and the impact of the failure (or the efforts) to reform domestic economies; the relevance or not of Political Islam and the role of Islamism in the opposition; and the role of traditional media, new media, and social media.
CIRS Summary Report no. 10
This "Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran" CIRS Summary Report, details the CIRS research initiative on "Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran" and critically examines some of the most important topics within contemporary Iran, focusing on its social, cultural, economic, and political domains. A few recent efforts have been undertaken by scholars to engage in in-depth research on domestic development within Iran. In line with this body of nascent scholarship, CIRS launched an empirically grounded research initiative aimed at studying the variety of changes and developments currently underway in Iranian society. Through this multi-disciplinary, empirically-based research initiative, our goal is to present a comprehensive study of contemporary Iranian society.
This project brings together a number of distinguished scholars to examine a variety of relevant topics and to contribute original chapters to the CIRS book titled, Inside the Islamic Republic: Social Change in Post-Khomeini Iran (Hurst, 2014) edited by Mahmood Monshipouri.
CIRS Summary Report no. 8
In this "GCC States' Land Investments Abroad: The Case of Ethiopia" CIRS Summary Report, Benjamin Shepherd uses data generated from fieldwork in Ethiopia to evaluate the country as a potential long-term source of agricultural staples for Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states as part of their national food security strategies. Part of the larger CIRS research initiative on "Food Security and Food Sovereignty in the Middle East," the report identifies the risks and well as the opportunities of investing in the agricultural sector of Ethiopia.
There are sound opportunities for GCC countries to use investment in developing country agriculture as part of their long-term food security policy mix, as long as those investments are approached in a careful, constructive, and regulated way. To this end, some recommendations are made in this report for further research and for GCC state policymakers to re-think national food security policies.