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“This Land is their Land”: Egypt’s Military and the Economy

The Egyptian Armed Forces (EAF) is widely reputed to play an influential, even massive, role in the national economy. The EAF runs a parallel economy that produces a wide array of consumer products ranging from food products, dairies and wheat to cement, fertilizers, and fuel distribution. The military is also heavily ...  Read More »

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The Saudi PR Machine in the US: An Interview with Lee Fang

On 2 January 2016, Saudi Arabia executed forty-seven people, including prominent dissident Shia cleric Nimr al-Nimr. Soon after the executions, organized mobs attacked the Saudi diplomatic missions in Tehran and the northeastern city of Mash-had. The tension between the two countries reached its paroxysm when Saudi ...  Read More »

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Acts and Omissions: Framing Settler Colonialism in Palestine Studies

Columbus was free to look for a language he couldn't find here, to look for gold in the skulls of our ancestors. He took his fill from the flesh of our living and our dead. So why is he bent on carrying out his deadly war even from the grave? (Mahmoud Darwish)   Over the past several years, there has ...  Read More »

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The Geo-Economics of Gulf Food Imports

What a difference two decades can make. In the early 1990s, Saudi Arabia was among the world’s top ten wheat exporters. Now it is among the crop’s top ten importers. The Saudi government’s vision to overcome the geopolitical vulnerability of food import dependence with domestic wheat self-sufficiency lies in tatters ...  Read More »

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New Texts Out Now: Paul Aarts and Carolien Roelants, Saudi Arabia: A Kingdom in Peril

Paul Aarts and Carolien Roelants, Saudia Arabia: A Kingdom in Peril. London: Hurst, 2015. J: What made you write this book? Paul Aarts (PA): Two years ago I had a chance to visit Saudi Arabia again (after many years). My co-author Carolien Roelants also managed to get a visa—which is not easy—and separately we ...  Read More »

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Decoding an Urban Myth: An Inquiry into the Socio-Economics of Van Number 4 in Beirut

It has been called a #lifestyle on social media (#اسلوب_حياة). The van number 4 has become a social phenomenon, as well as an economic one. Here, we call it an intersection between contradicting places where strangers from different classes share the journey from the informal area of Hay el-Sellom in south Beirut to ...  Read More »

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Monsoon Revolution

Abdel Razzaq Takriti, Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013. [This review was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Arab Studies Journal. For more information on the issue, or to subscribe to ASJ, click here.] Abdel ...  Read More »

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Syria: An Interview with Samer Abboud

The humanitarian costs of the Syrian conflict have been staggering. Many, including officials at the United Nations, identify this as the worst humanitarian crisis of our time. More than 200,000 Syrians killed, more than four million refugees, approximately eight million displaced inside Syria, close to 650,000 ...  Read More »

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Saddam Hussein’s Ba’th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime

Joseph Sassoon, Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2012. [This review was originally published in the Fall 2015 issue of Arab Studies Journal. For more information on the issue, or to subscribe to ASJ, click here.] Despite the attention that Iraq has ...  Read More »

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Petrodollars and Profit: Rethinking Political Economy through the Middle East

Jonathan Nitzan and Shimshon Bichler. The Scientist and the Church. World Economic Association, 2015. Howard Page, a director at what was then Exxon, was once asked, “What would have happened if Iraq production had also surged during the 1960’s,” like that of Saudi Arabia and Iran. He responded, “I admit we ...  Read More »

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'All in World Bank': Manipulation in the Name of Deregulation

In November 2015, the Tunisian Observatory of Economic (TOE) published a critical analysis of a recent World Bank report, the latter of which is entitled "All in the Family: State Capture in Tunisia." What follows is a summarized version of the TOE's critical analysis I - General Frame 1.1. On the 27 March ...  Read More »

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Mukhtars in the Middle: Connecting State, Citizens and Refugees

Lebanon’s political set-up differs significantly from that of the region’s monarchical and authoritarian countries. Its consociational system is both remarkably protracted in its sectarianism and distinctly volatile in its elite bargaining. Lebanese governance, consequently, is characterized by a multiplicity of (both ...  Read More »

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Militarized Neoliberalism: Jeff Halper's "War Against the People"

Jeff Halper, War Against the People: Israel, the Palestinians and Global Pacification. London: Pluto Press, 2015. Dew drops as dual use remote sensors; mechanized micro-drones the size of wasps wandering the skies; and cannons blasting water at such high velocity as to turn globules of liquid into bullets and shells. ...  Read More »

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The Diaspora, Debt, and Dollarization: Unraveling Lebanon’s Resilience to a Sovereign Debt Crisis

There are no official statistics on the numbers of Lebanese who have emigrated and are working abroad, nor on the immense sums of money they transfer to their home country. According to World Bank estimates, remittances comprised between fifteen and twenty percent of Lebanon’s gross domestic product over the past five ...  Read More »

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New Texts Out Now: Safinaz El Tarouty, Businessmen, Clientelism, and Authoritarianism in Egypt

Safinaz El Tarouty, Businessmen, Clientelism, and Authoritarianism in Egypt. London and New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Safinaz El Tarouty (SET): This book is based on my PhD dissertation that I completed in 2014 at the University of East Anglia. The topic I chose ...  Read More »

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City Talks: Timothy Mitchell on the Materialities of Political Economy and Colonial History

[City Talks provides a platform for conversations around the social, political, economic, cultural, and environmental transformations that define the historical and contemporary geographies of the Middle East and beyond. Bringing together voices from critical scholars, activists, and artists, it seeks to explore the ...  Read More »

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Asad’s Officer Ghetto: Why the Syrian Army Remains Loyal

The Syrian army’s officer corps has remained intact despite the immense pressure of nearly four years of civil and military conflict, a fact that has prevented the fall of Syrian President Bashar al-Asad’s regime. The military housing system is a crucial aspect of this cohesion: it reveals the world Syrian officers ...  Read More »

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Early Spring in Jordan: The Revolt of the Military Veterans

The Jordanian Hirak grassroots movement of 2011–2013 is increasingly being recognized as a social and political protest movement born out of discontent in East Bank hinterlands long thought to be home to unflagging supporters of Jordan’s autocratic regime. The movement’s foundations were laid in the spring of 2010 by ...  Read More »

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Men of Capital in Mandate Palestine: An Interview with Sherene Seikaly

Historians of the Middle East have long ignored the middle class in general and the activities of Arab capitalists in particular. For many, capitalism is synonymous with colonialism, and prevailing narratives have not been able to accommodate entrepreneurs who resist characterization as “comprador” allies of colonial ...  Read More »

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Political Economy of the Middle East: Continuities & Discontinuities in Teaching & Research (Event at GMU)

Political Economy of the Middle East:  Continuities & Discontinuities in Teaching & Research Friday 6 November, 2015 3 pm - 6 pm Merten Hall 1202 GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY Pizza and Refreshments Served      S C H E D U L E  Panel 1: Field Research  : :  3 ...  Read More »

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A Spatial History of a Main Baghdadi Street

“The sidewalk was like a mirror Now, a sanitation worker collects the bodies of dead people […] My memories died yesterday But a tree smiling in Abu Nuwas has enlivened them” – Iraqi poet Fadhil Abbas.  This essay examines the ways in which the political circumstances of post-invasion Iraq ...  Read More »

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New Texts Out Now: Raymond Hinnebusch, The International Politics of the Middle East

Raymond Hinnebusch, The International Politics of the Middle East, revised second edition. Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2015. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Raymond Hinnebusch (RH): Having taught international politics for many years, I became dissatisfied with the texts available for ...  Read More »

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Quick Thoughts on Sanctions and Elite Factionalization in Syria: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Samer Abboud

In this Quick Thoughts conversation for Status/الوضع, Samer Abboud outlines the impact of sanctions on the rise of social actors in Syria who facilitate transactions as intermediaries and assist in providing access to parts of the country afflicted with conflict. As producers and distributors, ...  Read More »

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Migrant States, Mobile Economies: Rethinking the Political in Contemporary Turkey (GMU Event)

  Migrant States, Mobile Economies:  Rethinking the Political in Contemporary Turkey Thursday, 8 October 2015, 3:30-8:00 PM         Merten Hall 1201     GEORGE MASON UNIVERSITY  Open to the public  This event brings together scholars from anthropology ...  Read More »

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LCPS Interviews Jadaliyya Co-Editor Ziad Abu-Rish on Electricity in Early Independence Lebanon

In the following interview with the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies (LCPS), Jadaliyya Co-Editor Ziad Abu-Rish discusses the history of electricty in Beirut during the early independence period, and some of the legacies and insights of the period. The interview was conducted over email, ...  Read More »

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NPR's 'Here and Now' Interviews Jadaliyya Co-Editor Rosie Bsheer About Redevelopment in Mecca

In this interview with NPR's Here and Now, Jadaliyya Co-Editor Rosie Bsheer discusses urban redevelopment in Mecca following the tragic stampede that killed over 700 pilgrims in Mecca on 24 September 2015. Bsheer explains the political and economic motivations behind the nature of redevelopment there ...  Read More »

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What Do We Talk About When We Talk About Political Economy?

Mandy Turner and Omar Shweiki, editors, Decolonizing Palestinian Political Economy: De-Development and Beyond. London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. Anyone who visited Ramallah in 2013 would have heard a lot of talk about seatbelts. Everyone there—everyone—was talking about them, and how consistent and prevalent they had ...  Read More »

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Migration and Exclusion in the Gulf: A STATUS/الوضع Conversation with Omar al-Shehabi

In this interview, Omar al-Shehabi discusses his new co-edited book, Transit States on Immigration in the Gulf, expanding on issues of migration, exclusion and co-optation.  Omar al-Shehabi is the director of the Gulf Centre for Development Policies. His current research interests lie in the demography and ...  Read More »

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Arab Maghreb Union: Overcoming Competition in Favor of Cooperation (Part II)

[This article is the final part in a two-part Jadaliyya series on the Arab Maghreb Union. Read the first part here.] Comparison with ASEAN: From Crisis to Unity The global economy is making it increasingly difficult for non-integrated countries to be economically viable. Regional alliances have paved the way, ...  Read More »

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Arab Maghreb Union: Overcoming Competition in Favor of Cooperation (Part I)

[This article is the first in a two-part Jadaliyya series on the Arab Maghreb Union.] In his book Making Globalization Work, Joseph Stiglitz said, “As countries of the world become more closely integrated, they become more interdependent. Greater interdependence gives rise to a greater need for collective action to ...  Read More »

Political Economy Project

This page is co-produced with the Political Economy Project​The Political Economy Project (PEP) is an evolving focus of the Arab Studies Institute, with research, pedagogic, and advocacy objectives. Our founding workshop took place in April 2015 at the Arab Studies Institute in Virginia and was followed by several workshops, conferences, research projects, resource building efforts, and other activities. The workshop and preparations for it spawned an initial membership of more than sixty researchers and scholars of political economy from the Middle East and beyond. PEP’s evolving cluster of activities revolve around research, pedagogy, training, network-building, and advocacy. Our network grows through nominations by existing members. A cornerstone of PEP is to provide opportunities and training for students and emerging researchers both from the region and beyond. READ MORE HERE.

Political Economy Summer Institute

Each year, the Political Economy Project hosts the Political Economy Summer Institute. The goal of the Summer Institute is to foster and support critical scholarship on the political economy of the Middle East and beyond. It brings together faculty leaders and student participants for four days of immersive study. Faculty members lead sessions on themes such as state formation, imperialism, and labor, while students present their research and workshop their papers. To date the Political Economy Project has hosted two summer institutes at George Mason University in 2016 and 2017. More information can be found here.

Political Economy Book Prize

The Political Economy Project just closed the doors for our 2017 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. The book prize aims to recognize and disseminate exceptional critical work on the political economy of the Middle East. While the book must have a political economy theme, we welcome nominations from across academic disciplines. Submissions will be read and judged by a committee drawn from PEP’s membership. Eligible texts must have been published in the year prior, and can be either Arabic or English language. The book must make an original contribution to critical political economy research. The author(s) of the winning book will receive a prize of US$1000 and will be invited to give a talk at a PEP affiliated University. The author(s) will also be interviewed by the Arab Studies Institute’s Audio Magazine, Status/الوضع. For more information, contact us at


JADMAG Issue 4.2 "What is Political Economy?" is out!


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