MESA 2008

MESA 2008

The annual Middle East Studies Assocation meeting is coming to DC tomorrow.  I was on the program committee this year, focusing on political science, and this looks to my admittedly prejudiced eye like one of the best programs I”ve ever seen for those interested in such issues. 

I am on two panels:

Saturday, 5:00:  SPECIAL SESSION:  International Relations of the Middle East
Chair: Marc Lynch, George Washington University 
Participants:  Laurie Brand, University of Southern California; Gregory Gause, University of Vermont; Lisa Anderson, American U in Cairo; Gilles Kepel, Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris; Shibley Telhami, University of Maryland

I spent a lot of time organizing this special session, about which I will have more to say later. I was very sad that Fred Halliday had to drop out and Etel Solingen and several others couldn”t make it.  But I think it”s a great cross-section of sub-fields, regional specialties, and backgrounds and should be an outstanding discussion of the state of the art in the academic study of the IR of the Middle East.

Monday, 5:00  (P116) The Global Spread of Saudi Islamism: Wahhabi Masterplan or Accident of Globalisation?  Organized by Thomas Hegghammer

Chair: Marc Lynch, George Washington U
Discussant: Bernard Rougier, Sciences-po, Paris

Thomas Hegghammer, Harvard U–The Saudi Mobilization to the 1980s Afghan Jihad
Stephane Lacroix, Sci-Po-Paris–The “Export of Wahhabism”: A Deconstruction
Laurent Bonnefoy, IREMAM–Salafism in Yemen and Its Saudi Sponsors
Norman Cigar, Marine Corps U–Abd Al-Aziz Al-Muqrin: A Blueprint for Al-Qaida’s Insurgency
Naveed S. Sheikh, Keele U– Pax Wahhabica Revisited: Modus Operandi and Locus Operandi of Riyadh’s Islamic Imperialism

There are some fantastic papers here, looking very closely from multiple perspectives at the competing arguments about the role and impact of Saudi religious mobilization abroad.  I will be commenting on them from my chair”s seat, and look forward to some lively debate.

Besides my own panels, here are some of the other panels that I will try to attend, schedule allowing – judge for yourself whether they ignore serious issues, Iraq, Islamism, or whatnot.  These are just my picks, reflecting my interests, needless to say:

Sunday, 8:30 AM: 

(P099) Displacing Borders: Iraq’s Post-2003 Forced Migration, Part1 or (P128) The New Arab Gulf: Economy, Society, and Foreign Policy or (P129) Informality, Persistence, and Political Change in the Middle East

Sunday. 10:30

(P016-I) Authoritarianism, Opposition and Elections in the Middle East, Part I: Electoral Authoritarianism in the Middle East or (P036) Politics, Culture and Communication in the Contemporary Middle East: Contestations and Struggles for Power or (P041) Everyday Political Engagements: State-Society Relations in the Middle East or (P048) Israeli Domestic Politics and Foreign Policy after the Annapolis Conference or (P099) Displacing Borders: Iraq’s Post-2003 Forced Migration, Part II

Sunday, 2:00

(NP50) Shaping the Political Economy of the Gulf or (NP59) Comparative Perspectives on Egypt or (P016-II) Authoritarianism, Opposition and Elections in the Middle East, Part II: Regime and Opposition in the Middle East or (RT006) Rethinking the 1958 Coup in Iraq

Sunday 4:00

(NP47) Jordan, Still at the Crossroads or (RT011) Confronting the Iraq Humanitarian Crisis: An NGO-Scholar Dialogue

Monday 8:30

(NP52) Power and Influence in the New Arab Media or (P018) Shi’i Clerical Families or (P021) Dynasticism without Monarchy: Succession Politics in Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Yemen

Monday, 11.  I  have to teach at this time, but if I didn”t I would attend…

(RT012) Rethinking Islamism in the Middle East: Reform, Participation, and Engagement

Monday, 2:30

(NP42) Islamist Contention or (P085) The Role of Academics in Building Civil Society in Iraq

Tuesday, 8:30

(NP48) State and Society in Egypt or P091) Political Power beyond the Regime

Tuesday, 11

(NP46) Challenge of Radical Islamist Movements or (NP60) Iraq: Past, Present, and Future or (P094) Fault Lines of Islamism: Which Road to the Future? or (TC003) Constitutionalism and the Rule of Law in Egypt and Iran

Hope to see many of you there, friends old and new.  Based on past practice, I”ll probably end up spending more time drinking coffee and/or beer than at these panels, but one can dream…. Feel free to email me if you want to contribute to my delinquency or if you have reports from particularly good/interesting/terrible/horrifying panels or papers!