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A Workshop And Panel Discussion

arab spring 1

The dramatic events of early 2011 in Tunisia and Egypt triggered a wave of protests, reforms, and revolutions throughout the Middle East and North Africa. The map of power in the Arab world altered, not just in those countries that witnessed regime collapses, but even in those places where regimes remained, at least in power, if not intact. The Carolina community had the opportunity to explore the causes, the controversies and the hopes for democratization of the Arab spring on November 18, 2012.


arab spring peopleSix experts on democratization and the Arab world participated in a panel discussion on the Arab Spring to a standing room only crowd. The panel responded to questions posed by audience members, and investigated the elements of democratic reform and prospects for stability in the Arab world. Their responses emphasized the very unique concerns each country faced, and the difficulty of generalizing given the distinct make-up of the various nations. At the same time, the consensus among the panel was that the Arab world has changed forever. As the panelists broached topics of technology and the role of the West and the military in each case, they recognized how this region would never be able to return to the total authoritarianism of the past. However, they were careful to note that the revolutions may not usher in the type of democratic government for which many participants had hoped, and that there is a strong possibility that the situation in these countries worsens before it improves.

Chair of Global Studies and associate professor of Political Science, Andrew Reynolds, credited the incredible response to the program to the timeliness of the topic. “The cases touched by the turmoil of 2011 reach far beyond the Arab world and are fascinating in juxtaposition, as they take very different paths: from optimistic democratization moves in Tunisia, to a fragile and military dominated process in Egypt, to the violent repression of Syria.”

The panel included:

jason brownlee Jason Brownlee, associate professor in the department of government at the University of Texas, has previously been a fellow at Stanford University’s Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law.
Charlie Kurzman Charlie Kurzman, professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, has authored several books on Middle East and Islamic studies, including “The Missing Martyrs” (Oxford University Press, 2011) and “Democracy Denied, 1905-1915” (Harvard University Press, 2008).
Tarek Masoud Tarek Masoud, assistant professor of public policy at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government, was named a Carnegie Scholar in 2009 by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
andrew reynolds Andrew Reynolds is an associate professor of political science at UNC Chapel Hill and chair of Global Studies. He has worked for the United Nations, the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance and the U.S. State Department and has consulted on issues of electoral design for countries across the globe.
Jillian Schwedler Jillian Schwedler, associate professor of government and politics at the University of Massachusetts and chair of the Board of Directors of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), is a publisher of the quarterly “Middle East Report” and is also the author of “Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen.”
Alfred Stepan Alfred Stepan is the Wallace S. Sayre Professor of Government at Columbia University, the founding director of the Center for the Study of Democracy, Toleration and Religion, and the co-director of the Institute for Religion, Culture and Public Life. He is a Fellow in the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His two most recent books areDemocracy in Multinational Societies: India and Other Polities with Juan J. Linz and Yogendra Yadav, and Democracies in Danger.
Carrie Wickham Carrie Wickham, an associate professor of political science at Emory University, was selected as a Carnegie Scholar in 2004. With support from the Carnegie Corporation and the United States Institute of Peace, she is currently conducting research on democratization and the “auto-reform” of Islamist opposition goals and strategies in the Arab world.

The event followed a day long workshop considering the Arab Spring in the context of previous theories and experiences of revolutions, state transitions and constitutional design processes. The workshop took as a focal point draft chapters from the forthcoming book After the Awakening: Revolt, Reform and Renewal in the Arab World, co-authored by Jason Brownlee, Tarek Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds.

In addition to the panelists, workshop participants included John Carey from Dartmouth College, Ali Eshraghi from UNC- Chapel Hill, Donald Horowitz from Duke University, Curtis Ryan from Appalachian State University, Zeynep Tufekci from UNC-Chapel Hill, Bryce Loidolt from UNC-Chapel Hill and Paula Mukherjee from UNC-Chapel Hill.

The Arab Spring roundtable, workshop and panel discussion was sponsored by the curriculum in Global Studies, the College of Arts and SciencesUNC Global, the Center for Global Initiatives, the Department of Political Science, the Duke-UNC Consortium of Middle East Studies, the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations and the African Studies Center