Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Methodological Challenges and Change

Sunday, 8 March 2015 from 9:00 AM to 11:00 AM (EDT)

Koffler House, MultiFaith Center 569 Spadina Ave.

“Lessons from the Field:” Studying Contentious Politics in the Middle East Before and After the Arab Spring: Methodological Challenges and Change

Event Organizer: Geoff Martin <>

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Summary of Event: Since 2010, numerous political, social, and economic transformations have upset scholarly understandings of societal politics in the region. This workshop is a multi-disciplinary effort to expand and strengthen our knowledge of how research is conducted in the rapidly changing fieldwork environment of the Middle East and North Africa as well as the challenges and changes to it. Four panelists, all of whom are experts at conducting fieldwork many countries in the Middle East, will discuss their own personal challenges of conducting fieldwork in the Middle East. Most importantly, they will comment on the various changes to the fieldwork environment after the events of the last several years. Each of these scholars comes from a unique perspective in studying societal politics, from a country as well as theoretical perspective, providing a wide breadth of understanding about the challenges to studying social forces in the region.  Panelists’ Bios: kingstonPaul Kingston is as Associate Professor of Political Science and International Development Studies and the Director of the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough. His research interests revolve around questions of the politics and power that underpin the dynamics of development and/or underdevelopment. he approaches this from the discipline of political science but with an historians eye to the longer term political, economic, and institutional, processes that influence development trajectories. His regional focus is the Middle East, an area often and regretfully neglected in the field of development studies. Kingston’s most recent research has also focused on the dynamics of weak and failing states. His emerging interests increasingly revolve around the challenges of social policy making in the Global South, my own field work focus being on the Middle East region. The broader theme is manifested by participation in a research network called Collaboration for Research on Democracy (CORD) – one of whose research directions focuses on the issue of marginalized populations and policy-making in the Global South. His research contribution to this broader research collaboration — still at an early stage — will focus on the rise of self-advocacy for people with disabilities in the Arab world and the ensuing politics and challenges of disability policy making in the region. ClarkAssociate Professor Janine Clark received her PhD in Political Science from the University of Toronto, her MA in Political Science from Carleton University and her Bachelor of Environmental Studies in Geography from the University of Waterloo. Professor Clark’s research interests focus on three broad areas. The first is religion and politics in the Middle East, looking specifically at religious parties and institutions in Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt and Yemen. The second is women and politics in the Middle East. My third and most current area of research examines political decentralization and its impact at the municipal level. I am presently conducting a comparative study of decentralization in Jordan, Morocco and Egypt. This research project is funded by a SSHRC Standard Research Grant. Her research interests include Middle East Politics, Research Methods, Comparative Politics, Women and Politics in the Global South.

francesco_nb_petite_thumbnailFrancesco Cavatorta is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at Université Laval, Quebec City (QC). He holds a PhD in Political Science from Trinity College Dublin, Ireland. His research focuses on dynamics of democratization and authoritarian renewal in the Middle East and North Africa, Islamist parties and movements, and civil society activism. He just completed an externally-funded project on the rise of Salafism after the Arab Spring and he is currently working on a project dealing with the policy preferences of political parties in the Maghreb. He has published his work in numerous peer-reviewed journals. For more information on Francesco’s publications see:

MarionMarion Boulby is an Associate Professor of history at Trent University, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada.  Her expertise is on modern Arab , especially Palestinian history with some focus on Islamist movements. Her publications include The Muslim Brotherhood and the Kings of Jordan and articles on Islamists in Tunisia, Israel/Palestine and a forthcoming book on the Islamic Movement in Israel. Her most recent publication is a chapter entitled “Extra-Regional Interests, Authoritarian Elites and Dependent State Formation in the Arab World” in State Formation and Identity in the Middle East and North Africa edited by Kenneth Christie and Mohammad Masad. Her new research is devoted to the mandate history of the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.

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