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Political Economy

Political Economy Summer Institute: Call for Letters of Interest

[Photograph of 2017 researchers and instructors session. Image by Bassam Haddad]

Over the course of four days in June 2017, and in conjunction with the Arab Studies Institute and George Mason University, the Political Economy Project held its second Political Economy Summer Institute (PESI) at GMU. The summer institute brought together, for the second consecutive year, a diverse collection of scholars and graduate student fellows from around the world for a series of workshops on the foundational concerns of critical political economy, with special attention devoted to conducting research in the contemporary Middle East. The institute served not only as an overview of critical debates and fundamental concepts for student participants, but ...

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War Economies Roundtable: Introduction

[By Alfred T. Palmer, courtesy of Creative Commons]

The concept of a war economy has varied considerably.  Historically, the term referred to a marshalling of national resources to support a state’s prosecution of war. Walter Oakes argued that “a war economy exists whenever the government’s expenditures for war (or ‘national defense’) become a legitimate and significant end-purpose of economic activity” (Oakes 1944: 12). Oakes and other scholars saw war economies as logical developments of capitalism in the core countries. In the decades of the late twentieth and early twenty-first century, the term has come to embrace a complex array of material exchange and political violence. These range from the international ...

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Follow the Money, Uncover the Power Dynamics: Understanding the Political Economy of Violence’

In the 1976 drama-documentary about the Watergate scandal, All the President’s Men, the informant, “Deepthroat,” tells the journalists from The Washington Post to “follow the money.” This is also good advice when it comes to the political economy of violence. Follow the money: some people lose it; some people gain it–some for survival purposes, others for combat purposes, a lot purely because the opportunity arose. Understanding the different methods of accumulation and dispossession that are part of the political economy of violence is central to uncovering the origins, development, and aftermath of a variety of conflict contexts. I prefer the term “political economy ...

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Israel’s Big Business of War

By

The Arab revolutions of 2011 turned violent conflicts have renewed scholarly interest in exploring the role political economy may have played in their causes, dynamics, and consequences. Of great significance within those broad lines of inquiry is the phenomenon of “war economy,” and its multiple manifestations, as a dominant system within ongoing wars, as well as possibly shaping the context of post-conflict reconstruction. There is less attention, however, to the idea that a “war economy” may be a central and ongoing part of states’ economies, rather than an abnormal event that occurs during periods of violent conflict. Israel is a case in point for the latter. ...

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الهَدم والبناء الاستعماري في الجولان

[لافتات للدلالة على المكان تشير إلى

افتتاحية في السابع من أيلول من العام المُنصرم، داهمت سلطات الاحتلال الإسرائيلي قرية مجدل شمس السورية، ونفّذت أمام أعين عشرات السكّان، مُستخدمةً جرّافاتها الثقيلة، أمر هدم منزل السيّد بسام جميل إبراهيم وزوجته داليا بدعوى تشييده دون ترخيص بناء، معلنةً بذلك نيّتها عن هدم عشرات المنازل التابعة للسكان السوريين في قرى الجولان المُحتل1. بالرغم من أن عملية الهدم هذه قد تبدو سابقة في قرى الجولان المُحتل في العقد الأخير، إلّا أنها في الواقع لا تشكّل حدثًا مفصليًا وفريدًا من نوعه، بل حتى بعيدة كل البعد عن ذلك. كَيف لنا قراءة مُمارسة المشروع الصهيوني تجاه الحيّز والجغرافيا في الجولان؟ وأين يمكن مَوضَعة هدم البيوت اليوم في السياق التاريخي الأوسع، وأية عمليات للبناء تقوم مقابل هذا ...

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جزيرة اللجوء المؤجل: قبرص

[محل حلاقة سوري في لارنكا]

مزّق محمد، اللاجئ السوري، ورقة قبول العمل التي مُنحت له بعد مقابلات عدة في مهن أرسل إليها من قبل "مكتب التشغيل والتأمين" في مدينة لارنكا القبرصية، كانت الفرصة الممنوحة له "عاملاً لفرز المعادن في معمل خردوات وقمامة يبعد عن بيته أكثر من 25 كيلومتراً" يقول محمد.ح (25 عاماً)، المتخرج من كلية الإعلام – جامعة دمشق، والذي وصل إلى قبرص منذ عامين على متن باخرة تركيا أوصلته مقابل (50 دولاراَ) إلى القسم التركي المحتل من الجزيرة، وهناك دفع مبلغ الدخول قرب ميناء " كيرينيا" شمال قبرص. لم يستطع محمد.ح التغلّب على مشكلة الكتابة والقراءة باللغة اليونانية حتى يستطيع العمل ولو في مهنة قريبة من عالم الورق: "بحثت بنفسي عن موقع وزارة التربية ...

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Political Economy Summer Institute: Two Public Events | GMU

This weekend, the Political Economy Project is holding its second annual Political Economy Summer Institute (PESI) at George Mason University. The summer institute brings together some two dozen participants (both graduate students/researchers and instructors) for four intense days of instruction and engagement.  Around the summer institute, we are holding two public events. One is a keynote lecture on Oilcraft by Robert Vitalis, and the other is a panel on the Political Econnomy of the Arab Uprisings. For further information on either the Political Economy Project or the Summer Institute, visit ...

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The Master Plans of Baghdad: Notes on GIS-Based Spatial History

In 1967 the state planning office Miastoprojekt Krakow from socialist Poland delivered the master plan of Baghdad which, together with its amendment that followed in 1973, provided the legal framework for the development of the Iraqi capital during the oil-boom era. With the 1973 plan about to be replaced by a new one, a graduate seminar Mapping Baghdad 1956-2016 at the Manchester School of Architecture looked back at the fifty years of history of Miastoprojekt’s plans for Baghdad, their guiding ideas, and their impact on the development of the city. In collaboration with scholars from Baghdad University and the Institut français du Proche-Orient, we have used Geographic ...

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New Texts Out Now: Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut

Toufoul Abou-Hodeib, A Taste for Home: The Modern Middle Class in Ottoman Beirut. Stanford University Press, 2017. Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book? Toufoul Abou-Hodeib (TAH): The book started with the idea of using extant homes as a material archive, which grew out of my experience as an architecture student and a practicing architect in Beirut in the 1990s and early 2000s. The frantic post-war reconstruction of Beirut in the 1990s was accompanied by a pace of deconstruction that literally transformed whole neighborhoods overnight, not least in and around the city center, where many of the residential buildings from the late Ottoman period were located. ...

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Political Economy Project Book Prize Competition: Call For Books Published in 2016

2017 BOOK PRIZE COMPETITION The Political Economy Project (PEP) is pleased to invite nominations for our 2017 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. PEP 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 2016 and can be either Arabic or English language. The book must make an original contribution to critical political economy research. The ...

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The World in the City and the City in the World: Reading the Janet Abu-Lughod Library

[Book covers from the Janet Abu Lughod Library, Amman]

For a young scholar, a figure like Janet Abu-Lughod can seem almost impossibly prolific. Among the fields to which Abu-Lughod made celebrated contributions, we find urban sociology, world systems theory, studies of colonialism, and racial injustice (from Palestine, to the United States, to Morocco!), the history of Cairo, globalization, the politics of neighborhood preservation, and the cause of women in academia. Her refusal to compromise between breadth and depth seems to contrast with our own academic worlds, where curiosity is confined to ever-narrowing niches of the job market. Yet, as we are reminded by Sherene Seikaly, who authored the introduction to a 2014 ...

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Announcing the 2016 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize Winners

The Political Economy Project (PEP) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Middle East Political Economy Book Prize. With this prize, PEP aims to recognize and disseminate exceptional critical work on the political economy of the Middle East. For its inaugural award, the selection committee welcomed nominations for books on political economy published between 2013-2015 from a range of publishers and across academic disciplines. After reviewing a dozen submissions, the 2016 selection committee recognizes two co-winners for their original contributions to critical political economy research:   Jamie Allinson’s The ...

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Jadaliyya Launches New Political Economy Page

We are especially excited today to launch the new Political Economy Page on Jadaliyya. This page is co-produced with the Political Economy Project. It serves as a space for producing critical work in political economy, as well as a resource for researchers, educators, and students interested in the field. We will regularly review and publish submissions related to any facet of political economy in accordance with the mission statement of the Political Economy Project, with some variation that is intended ...

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Invisibility and the Toxic Economy of War in Iraq

In April 2008 a small US engineering firm—Stafford, Texas-based MKM Engineers—brought to a close almost two decades of toxic cleanup work on a former US military facility just west of Kuwait City. Seventeen years earlier, in July 1991, a defective heating unit on a military vehicle loaded with 155mm artillery shells at Camp Doha caught fire and ignited a devastating inferno. The blaze injured several dozen people and damaged scores of other vehicles, including several highly prized M1A1 tanks.[1] ...

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Jordan’s Long War Economy

At dawn on 17 September 1970 two divisions of the Jordanian Armed Forces (JAF), plus newly formed internal security units from the Government Intelligence Directorate (GID), attacked the capital Amman. Over the previous year, sporadic violence flared between JAF units and the Palestinian fida’iyyun as multiple efforts at negotiation and resolution faltered. The fighting lasted longer than the Jordanian command expected, encompassing many parts of the country and not ending until July 1971 in the city of ...

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Critical Readings in Political Economy: 1967

Guy Laron, The Six-Day War (Yale University Press, 2017). Amidst the forest-felling libraries of literature on the question of Palestine, Israel’s 1967 war of aggression is perhaps responsible for the largest clear-cuts. So much is manufactured. Yet so little is useful or new. Part of the problem is the massive industry – literally – whose product is perpetual dispute over the most basic facts. Colonial expansion generates resistance. Both processes require intellectual support. For that reason, ...

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Caught Between Two Fires: Sudanese Refugees in Jordan

Ahmad is poised as a journalist from Kutum, a town that lies 120 kilm away from El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur in Sudan. His towering figure and wide shoulders sway slowly with each calculated step he takes around his home’s uneven floor, leaning on his aluminum cane for support. He is among the many Darfuris that have in recent years actively spoken out about persecution in their homeland: I am forced to raise my voice because my family members are victims. There are real problems: rape, ...

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Corruption et réforme en Tunisie: les dangers d'une analyse élitiste

Le 24 mai, une série d'arrestations de personnalités de haut rang a secoué la Tunisie. Un groupe d'hommes d'affaires éminents, des entrepreneurs dans l'économie parallèle, ainsi que des hauts fonctionnaires des services douaniers ont été arrêtés dans le cadre de ce que le chef du gouvernement Youssef Chahed a décrit comme le début d'une nouvelle guerre contre la corruption dans le pays. Randis que Chahed recevait beaucoup de louanges publiques après cette annonce, certains analystes ont décrit la ...

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Corruption and Reform in Tunisia: The Dangers of an Elitist Analysis

On May 24th, a wave of high-profile arrests rocked Tunisia. A range of prominent businessmen, entrepreneurs in the parallel economy, as well as high-ranking officials in the customs services were arrested in what the Head of the Government Youssef Chahed described as the beginning of a new crack-down on corruption in the country. While Chahed received much public applause for this announcement, analysts have begun framing the sudden crackdown as a power move in a political system in which both ...

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Diyarbakir: The Heart of this City Beats in Suriçi

One day in Suriçi, 1 March 2017: from Melik Ahmet Avenue to Balıkçılar, from there to Dağkapı, we follow the destruction and reconstruction. From Melik Ahmet Avenue, we are moving on to Balıkçılar. There are several police and task forces ahead on one of the narrow streets to the right. Mostly female police, wearing bulletproof jackets, are waiting with long black batons in their hands. The street entrance is closed. Thinking that he might be a journalist, I approach someone holding a camera in his ...

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Arabian Tragedy, or Noir?

The first page of the preface to Farah Al-Nakib’s Kuwait Transformed: A History of Oil and Urban Life (Stanford University Press, 2016) begins with the author sitting in a community garden in Kuwait. She is chatting with one Maryam, who is explaining the garden’s origins by recalling that some years ago she wondered to herself that something was missing in this city she lived in. In stark contrast to the preface’s rather bucolic and ponderous mood, the book’s introduction begins very differently. It ...

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Changing Ecologies of War and Humanitarianism - A STATUS/الوضع Interview with Omar Dewachi and Jonathan Whittall

In this interview for STATUS/الوضع, host Mohamad Ali Nayel speaks with Omar Dewachi and Jonathan Whittall about the changing nature of humanitarianism from an academic and a practitioner’s perspectives. Omar Dewachi is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Global Health at American University of Beirut (AUB). Trained as a physician in Iraq during the 1990s, Dewachi received his doctorate in social anthropology from Harvard University in 2008. His research explores the social and medical consequences ...

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Dark Beirut: The (In)Visibility of Electricity

As filmmakers and researchers working on electricity in Beirut, it is tempting to become too attached to the visible, namely electricity wires that drape the city like garlands, dangerously gaping down at pedestrians, changing their paths, forcing detours. The ubiquity of wires stretching like lianas from rooftops, or hanging heavily in overgrown bunches from leaning poles, inches from your head is difficult to avoid. The crowding of sky and street by intertwining cables, whose origins and destinations ...

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Critical Readings in Political Economy: Apartheid

Andy Clarno, Neoliberal Apartheid (University of Chicago Press, 2017). In some of the earliest editions of Al-Hadaf, the journal of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, there is explicit mention of the myriad similarities between the “racist, settler colonial regimes” occupying the antipodes of Africa and the crossroads of the Levant. The Popular Front in theory and practice understood their struggle as linked to that of the South African liberation movement. It is against that rich ...

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