World Congress for Middle Eastern Studies

Barcelona, July 19th - 24th 2010


MIDDLE EAST POLITICS THRU 'POST-DEMOCRATIZATION' LENSES - 1/2: Post-Democratization Theoretical Approaches (001) - NOT_DEFINED activity_field_Panel

· NOT_DEFINED date: MON 19, 2.30-4.30 pm

· NOT_DEFINED institution: University of St. Andrews (UK)

· NOT_DEFINED organizer: Raymond Hinnebusch

· NOT_DEFINED sponsor: International Association of Middle Eastern Studies (IAMES)

· NOT_DEFINED language: English

· NOT_DEFINED description: This panel discusses contemporary approaches to political rule in the Middle East that move beyond, not only the transition paradigm, but also the authoritarian resilience one which still sees democratization as only delayed by regime strategies; the approach, instead, proposes to study the region’s political formations on their own terms and outside of any teleological preconceptions. This is one of two panels: while it reviews different theoretical approaches in the post-democratization paradigm, Panel II showcases studies putting the approach into practice.

Chair: Andre Bank,Philipps University Marburg (Germany)

Discussant: Steven Heydeman, US Institute of Peace

Paper presenter: Morten Valbjørn (Aarhus University (Denmark), “Examining the'post' in 'post-democratization'. The future of Middle Eastern political rule through lenses of the past”
In this panel, Morton Valjborn’s Examining the ‘post’ in post-democratization: The future of Middle Eastern political rule through lenses of the past’ provides a critical examination of the ‘post’ in post-democratization by asking ‘where do we come from’, ‘where we are now situated’ and ‘where we should be going’?
The first of the four sections provides an outline and a critique of the demo-crazy current in the 1990s Middle East scholarship to which the post-democratization trend is a reaction. The second section turns to the current post-democratization trend and shows how it is marked by far less coherence than often assumed. Thus, an agreement on the need to move beyond the ‘democracy-spotters’- search for ‘what ought to be’ in favour of ‘what in fact is’ does by no means need to imply much consensus on what this more specifically means for the study of political rule in the Middle East.
The third sections shows that the 1990s was not the first time Middle East scholarship became demo-crazy, that this was typical of the 1950s and that it is also possible to detect an earlier ‘era of post-democratization’ following the democracy-spotting in the 1950s. The fourth section outlines four broad ‘post-democratic avenues’ that share the ambition of moving beyond democracy-spotting by drawing on inspiration from this first era of post-democratization, but differ at the same time, when it comes to the specific research strategies.

Paper presenter: Raymond Hinnebusch (University of St. Andrews), ''Toward of historical sociology of state formation in the Middle East''
Raymond Hinnebusch takes a historical sociology approach, with the emergence, stability and change in the Middle East state explained by its congruence or incongruence with a historically-inherited social formation and position in the international system, with state-builders mediating between the two levels. It replaces the conventional authoritarian-democratic dichotomy, which obscures the reality that all political regimes are more alike ‘elites rule’ than they are different, with a four-fold typology defined by two continua ‘elite competition and mass inclusion’ needed to capture the variety of historically-existing regime types. The paper uses this framework to assess the evolution of the main regime types in the Middle East ‘liberal oligarchy, populist republics, absolute monarchy’ and to explain their convergence over time toward a modal type ‘liberal autocracy.

Paper presenter:Francesco Cavatorta (Dublin City Uni¬versity/Irland), “The convergence of governance? Middle Eastern authoritarianism in comparative perspective”
Francesco Cavatorta argues that one of the crudest and therefore rather unsatisfactory categorisations is the distinction between authoritarian and democratic systems. The paper largely agrees with the current literature (Schlumberger, 2007) that MENA regimes have moved away from traditional authoritarian modes of governance and towards a liberalised authoritarian system. The perception that the Middle East is exceptionally locked in authoritarian governance however is misplaced if one analyses Middle Eastern authoritarianism in the context of the erosion of democracy across the globe. A widely held assumption is that political regimes across the globe will inevitably tend to convergence because of the requirements of the global economy and the inherent normative value of political pluralism. This contribution challenges the assumption that the convergence is towards some sort of liberal-democratic mode of governance and argues that while convergence might be occurring it could be leading towards some sort of semi-authoritarianism. The main explanation for this rests with notions of what can be termed neo-dependencia such as the structural power of key economic interests, the role of supranational organisations and globalisation.