World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


Comparative Perspectives on Citizenship (275) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: WED 21, 5-7 pm

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: Chair: Massimo Di Ricco (UNESCO Chair for Mediterranean Intercultural Dialogue, University of Tarragona, Spain)

Paper discussant: Shirin Saeidi (Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Politics and International Studies, University of Cambridge, UK)

Paper presenter: Dr. Hannu Juusola (Director, Finnish Institute in Damascus), “Citizenship in deeply divided societies: A comparison of recent debates in Israel and Lebanon”.
Israel and Lebanon share many common features. Both are multiethnic, (formally) democratic, and deeply divided societies with a high amount of inter-ethnic tension. Further, the ethnic conflict within the polities is closely linked to a regional conflict. Yet, the post-Taif Lebanon and Israel are also highly different. Israel is a polity dominated by one ethno-national group, so much so that Israel is often labelled as an “ethnic state”, “ethnic constitutional order”, or “ethnocracy”, the last classification rejecting Israel’s democracy. Both structurally and in terms of its identity, Israel is an instance of a regime where the majority ethnic group controls the state in order to promote its collective interests. Consequently, the large Palestinian minority is granted rights on individual basis, whereas collective group rights are much more insufficiently recognized. Lebanon, by contrast, follows a variant of consociationalism. The balance of the regime is based on granting collective group rights to the ethno-religious groups, with no single “sect” maintaining a hegemonic position within the polity. The almost hegemonic position of Maronites was abolished through the Taif Accord, creating a much more egalitarian system in terms of power sharing between various 'sects'. On the other hand, the system as it now stands is probably most sectarian in the Lebanese history. Consequently, there is little space for shared civilian citizenship or common national identity. Lebanon and Israel attest to hot debates about possible transformation of the regime. In Israel, the Palestinian minority has demanded a model, which approaches to the concept of non-territorial autonomy or consociationalism. In Lebanon, by contrast, a common demand has been the abolition of “sectarianism” in favour of a liberal democracy based on equal civic rights. Based on a theoretical framework of multiple “citizenship discourses”, an analysis is made on Lebanese and Israeli debates on transforming the regime. The emphasis is on political elites and opinion makers, whose role in bringing about a transformation is accepted. By analyzing the debates, the paper tries to answer the following questions:
- Are there common factors that could explain the pressures to transform the regime in two different Middle East cases?
- Consequently, are there similar trends despite of the different characters of the two regimes?
- What are the conditions under which the regimes could transform and what would be the implications of such changes?

Paper presenter: Mark Farha (Assistant Professor, Government- Georgetown University, Qatar), “The Fate of Citizenship in an Age of Consumerism: A Cross-national Comparison of Turkey, India and Lebanon, 1990-2009''

Benjamin Barber has suggested that the passive, ?infantalist? ethos of modern consumerism has undermined the rights and responsibilities associated with citizenship in a vibrant liberal democracy.The past two decades have witnessed a remarkable wave of privatization and rapid capitalist develoment across the Middle East. This paper takes the examples of Turkey, Lebanon and Qatar within the past two decades of economic liberalization. Has the economic dominance of the Washington Consensus and the dissemination of a consumerist culture curtailed critical notions of public citizenship in these three states? How has the spread of capitalism with an American stamp affected the perception of the model of Western secular democracies in non-Western contexts? Casting an eye to the historical underpinnings of the evolution and particularities of each regime, this paper weighs the impact of globalization and consumerism on the consociational secularism of Lebanon, the equidistant secularism of India and the coercive secularism of Turkey. I shall argue that economic liberalization has had a double-edged impact on the political systems of these countries. On the one hand, widening class differences and dislocations could strain the social contract and aggravate conflict between communal competitors; on the other hand, it was the very growth and expansion of a bourgeoisie and urban professionals which could also facilitate mediation between communal factions (as was the case during the Gujarat riots), or strike a middle path between religious and secular political paths (as was the case for the AKP in Turkey for instance).

Paper Presenter: Anu Leinonen (Ph.D. Candidate- University of Helsinki, Finland), “Debating Citizenship in Turkey”
aper presenter: Anu Leinonen (University of Helsinki), “Debating Citizenship in Turkey”.
In the fall of 2009, the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched an approach that aimed to end Turkey's Kurdish problem. A vital part of the initiative known as “the Kurdish Opening” or “the Democratic Initiative” was argued to be the redefinition of Turkish citizenship as less ethnically based. While the initiative was applauded by many as the most serious attempt to resolve the Kurdish issue to date, it was also resisted by both political opponents and ordinary citizens for, among other things, challenging the notion of ‘Turkishness’. The public-political debates were accompanied by instances of violent inter-ethnic clashes and lynch mobs in different locations, which has been relatively unusual in Turkey. This paper looks at the process of gradual acknowledgment of the irreversible diversity of Turkish society and deep cultural divisions within the Turkish nation. The Kurdish Opening of 2009 was the latest stage of this slow, difficult and contested discursive transformation, which has its roots in the early 1990s. The reasons behind the difficulties of the process and continuing opposition against differentiated, multicultural, constitutional citizenship are argued to be found in the ways of speaking of and constructing the Turkish nation and citizenship in the mainstream public space. The focus of is on the (re)presentations in the Turkish mainstream print media. The paper begins with a look at the way citizenship has been constructed and understood in Republican Turkey; outlines the main problems in the formulations; and evaluates the possibilities for a multicultural, differentiated and constitutional reconstruction of Turkish citizenship (Keyman & Içduygu), ''denationalization'' of Turkish citizenship (Kadioglu), and acceptance of ''unity-in-diversity'' as the basis for the Turkish nation (Kaya). Based on this theoretic discussion of citizenship and nationalism, a number of articles in the mainstream press (2005-2009) that participate in the debates on Turkish citizenship are analyzed. It is argued that the acceptance of cultural and linguistic diversity within the Turkish society and nation is hindered by a very limited “politically correct" routine daily discourse on these matters in the press. Despite the liberal-intellectual interventions on behalf of a multicultural reconstitution of Turkish citizenship, assessing minority claims in other terms than those of security still continues to be difficult.