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Authoritarianism in the Era of Mass Politics

  • Steven Heydemann




The uprisings that spread across the Middle East in 2011 created new hope for democratic change in the Arab world.  Four years later, the euphoria that greeted the Arab uprisings has given way to a far more somber mood, a recognition of the limits of mass protests to bring about political change, and acknowledgement that the region's entrenched authoritarian regimes are more resilient than many protesters imagined. Yet in responding to the challenge of mass politics, authoritarian regimes in the Middle East have not simply shown their resilience. In adapting to new challenges they have also changed, giving rise to new and more troubling forms of authoritarian rule, suggesting that the turmoil of recent years may be only the beginning of an extended period of political instability, violence, and repression in many parts of the Middle East.


Speaker Bio

Steven Heydemann serves as the vice president of Applied Research on Conflict at United States Institute of Peace. Heydemann is a political scientist who specializes in the comparative politics and the political economy of the Middle East, with a particular focus on Syria. His interests include authoritarian governance, economic development, social policy, political and economic reform and civil society. From 2003 to 2007, Heydemann directed the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. From 1997 to 2001, he was an associate professor in the department of political science at Columbia University. Earlier, from 1990-1997, he directed the Social Science Research Council’s Program on International Peace and Security and Program on the Near and Middle East. Heydemann is the author of Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946-1970 (Cornell University Press, 1999), and editor of Networks of Privilege in the Middle East: The Politics of Economic Reform Revisited, (Palgrave Press, 2004), and War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East (University of California Press, 2000).

This event is co-sponsored by the Arab Studies Institute