Port Infrastructures, International Politics, and Everyday Life: From the Arabian Gulf to the Horn of Africa
2020-2023. Carnegie Corporation of New York. Funding: $ 500,000
PI: May Darwich
This project examines transregional relationships between the Arabian Gulf and the Horn of Africa through the lens of port infrastructures and transport corridors in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It focusses on the way geopolitical contestations materialize in port infrastructures, explores how infrastructural power contestations shape local, national and regional politics, and looks into the impact of infrastructural developments on the everyday lives of people in three port cities in the Horn of Africa—Berbera, Bossaso, and Djibouti. Investments from the Gulf in the Horn, often inextricably tied to international dynamics, shape practices of governance and impact on business-society relations that at times compete with Western norms. However, the nature of these new practices, the norms they transmit, and the way these norms are interpreted and adapted locally are little understood. The project contributes to the understanding of these dynamics, while advancing theoretical knowledge of how international relations intermingle with the politics of infrastructure at national and local levels thereby affecting daily lives. It advances empirical knowledge of South-South transregional relationships, which are often overlooked. Finally, the project strives to build long-lasting relationships across academic communities across three continents—Europe, the Middle East, and the Horn of Africa—that would allow equitable academic collaboration, knowledge exchange, and building capacities. Through extensive fieldwork in four countries—the United Arab Emirates, Djibouti, Somalia, Somaliland—the project will generate primary data and knowledge on infrastructural power at the intersection of two regions. Website: http://portinfrastructure.org
Writing and Publishing about Politics in/on the Arab World
2020-2023 British Academy Writing Workshops. Funding: £18,340
These workshops are motivated by the underrepresentation of the Arab world in knowledge production, especially in Political Science. The Middle East is the most studied region beyond the West. Arab scholars are, however, absent from scholarly debates. While research and publishing are marginalised activities in the Arab world, Arab scholars are likely to be equivalent in training to their European and American counterparts. Meanwhile, editors of international journals struggle to increase the representation of Arab-based authors in their publications. These workshops have been designed to meet this two-sided need for both Arab-based scholars and their influence in the scholarly community. These workshops will further Arab countries’ agenda to achieve development through higher education by focusing on enhancing the publishing and grant writing capacities of early career scholars. The workshops will facilitate mutual learning between early career researchers from six Arab countries, UK researchers, and editors of international journals.
Sectarianism in Unlikely Places: The Cases of Jordan and Morocco
2019-2022. British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant. Funding: £9,982
After 2011, sectarian tensions not only spread to societies with pre-existing sectarian social fabrics — such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and Bahrain— it also spread in the most unlikely places, where hardly any Shiite communities existed, such as Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, and other countries in the Muslim World. This project examines the spread of Sunni-Shiite sectarianism in the Middle East following the 2011 Arab Uprisings, with a particular focus on the cases of Jordan, Egypt, and Morocco. It examines the impact of regional conflicts on domestic identity formation in the region. Explaining the puzzling spread of anti-Shiite sentiments in countries almost devoid of Shiites relates to debates on identity politics and othering mechanisms in the physical absence of a sectarian other. Furthermore, it examines how geopolitical dynamics at the regional levels varies in its influence on identity formation in different societies. The project is funded by a British Academy/Leverhulme Small Research Grant.
Theorizing the Foreign Policy of Armed Non-State Actors
Armed non-state actors (ANSAs) have emerged as states failed and have resorted to organised attacks to advance political aims. While many of these actors emerged in the context of protracted civil conflicts, some of these have increasingly developed a foreign policy agenda that transcends the boundaries of their national jurisdiction. While a recently emerging literature within FPA has focused on non-state actors, such as environmental NGOs and multinational corporations in the context of democratic states, FPA research has so far remained state-centric and almost completely ignores ANSAs, especially in non-Western contexts. Based on examples from the Middle East, this project explores how foreign policy analysis (FPA) can take non-state actors beyond the West seriously while conceptualising their motives and the decision-making processes in their ‘foreign’ relations with other actors in the international system. In the meantime, this article explores how ANSAs in the Middle East can take research within FPA into new directions.