CIRS published its 2007-2008 Annual Report documenting all its activities and achievements over the past academic year. The Report includes summaries and full listings of all conferences, events, publications, and research initiatives undertaken as part of CIRS efforts to promote cross-cultural understanding and dialogue, encourage in-depth scholarship, and provide the forum for thought-provoking public lectures and events.
Kamrava, Mehran. Iran's Intellectual Revolution. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008.
Since its revolution in 1979, Iran has been viewed as the bastion of radical Islam and a sponsor of terrorism. The focus on its volatile internal politics and its foreign relations has, according to Kamrava, distracted attention from more subtle transformations which have been taking place there in the intervening years. With the death of Ayatollah Khomeini a more relaxed political environment opened up in Iran, which encouraged intellectual and political debate between learned elites and religious reformers. What emerged from these interactions were three competing ideologies which Kamrava categorises as conservative, reformist and secular. As the book aptly demonstrates, these developments, which amount to an intellectual revolution, will have profound and far-reaching consequences for the future of the Islamic republic, its people and very probably for countries beyond its borders. This thought-provoking account of the Iranian intellectual and cultural scene will confound stereotypical views of Iran and its mullahs. Read more at Cambridge University Press.
Kamrava, Mehran. Understanding Comparative Politics. London: Routledge, 2008.
Comparative politics has undergone significant theoretical changes in recent decades. Particularly since the 1980s, a new generation of scholars have revamped and rejuvinated the study of the subject. Mehran Kamrava examines current and past approaches to the study of comparative politics and proposes a new framework for analysis. This is achieved through a comparative examination of state and social institutions, the interactions that occur between them, and the poltical cultures within which they operate. The book also offers a concise and detailed synthesis of existing comparative frameworks that, up to now at least, have encountered analytical shortcomings on their own. Although analytically different in its arguments and emphasis from the current "Mainstream" genre of literature on comparative politics, the present study is a logical outgrowth of the scholarly works of the last decade or so. It will be essential reading for all students of comparative politics. Read more at Routledge.
The first issue of the CIRS Newsletter was published in November 2007. It highlighted the American Arts Festival, CIRS research, and Mehran Kamrava's lecture on the US and Iran.
CIRS Occasional Paper no. 1
Patricia Weiss Fagen, Georgetown University
Over two million Iraqis are refugees in the Middle East, living in difficultconditions, primarily in Jordan and Syria. Their unresolved plight and their still largely unmet needs constitute a humanitarian crisis. Their presence has had an impact on the two countries where they are concentrated and, by extension, on the region as a whole. Although long hosts to Palestinian refugees, the countries of the Arab Middle East have not been major refugee destinations in recent decades and this report raises questions about the limited regional response to a major refugee flow. At this point, most Iraqis and their hosts hope for a quick and peaceful end to the insecurity that has precipitated the flight, but events in Iraq raise serious doubts that their hopes will soon be fulfilled. Some Iraqis are hoping for resettlement in the United States and other countries of the west, a hope thus far available only to a very few. The report raises questions about the apparently limited ability of the US and other countries to mobilize a major resettlement effort similar to those that took place during the Cold War. More fundamental to the lives of the vast majority of the Iraqi refugees, it calls on the international community to launch a more robust humanitarian response that will assist and protect the Iraqi refugees while addressing the legitimate economic, political and security concerns of Jordan and Syria as hosts to such large numbers of refugees.