SUMMARY:Robert W. Cox famously observed that “theory is always for someone and for some purpose. There is…no such thing as theory in itself divorced from a standpoint in time and space” (1986, 207). International Relations (IR) and security studies scholarship on the Middle East is no exception. However, IR and security studies scholarship since the US invasion of Iraq and throughout the Arab uprisings has generally been framed around questions that relate to the security interests and policies of the US and its allies. This has left Western IR scholarship detached from the challenges, threats and interests of the people in the region. This panel seeks to rethink how the notion of security and scholarship within "security studies" is defined and developed. It does so by attempting to draw on better empirical evidence, alternative local narratives, and a more complex picture of the political contexts of insecurity in the region. In contrasting these to the ideas, theories, and assumptions found in the dominant scholarly and policy work found in the US and Northern Europe, this panel offers both a critique of existing approaches as well as tools to build alternative approaches. Exploring cases from Tunisia, to Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, as well as the Gulf, these papers offer diverse theoretical approaches and methodologies. They explore illicit trade, social media, and armed militias as well as government policies and the work of think tanks and international organizations. These papers go beyond the notion of the state as the purveyor of security to consider the multiple and complicated ways in which security and insecurity are produced in the Arab World. Security and insecurity are increasingly defined by both plurality, reflecting the multiple sources of security and insecurity, such as states, armed groups, militias, local committees, foreign armies, and occupying forces; and precarity, reflecting the inherently unstable nature of individual and collective senses of (in)security. This panel will address the ways in which we can study such plural and precarious patterns of security and insecurity in the Middle East.
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;
(University of Alabama)
Waleed Hazbun is Richard L. Chambers Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Alabama, USA. He holds a PhD in political science from MIT, and before joining Alabama in 2018 he previously taught at the Johns Hopkins and at the American...