In this talk Joseph Sassoon discusses his recently released book Anatomy of Authoritarianism in the Arab Republics (Cambridge University Press, 2016). By examining the system of authoritarianism in eight Arab republics, the book portrays life under these regimes and explores the mechanisms underpinning their resilience. How did the leadership in these countries create such enduring systems? What was the economic system that prolonged the regimes’ longevity, but simultaneously led to their collapse? Why did these seemingly stable regimes begin to falter? This book seeks to answer these questions by utilizing the Iraqi archives and memoirs of those who were embedded in these republics: political leaders, ministers, generals, security agency chiefs, party members, and business people. Taking a thematic approach, the book begins in 1952 with the Egyptian Revolution and ends with the Arab uprisings of 2011. It seeks to deepen our understanding of the authoritarianism and coercive systems that prevailed in these countries and the difficult process of transition from authoritarianism that began after 2011.
Joseph Sassoon is an Associate Professor at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and the Sheikh Sabah Al Salem Al Sabah Chair at Georgetown’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. His work focuses on the history, politics, and political economy of the Arab world, and he has published extensively on Iraq and its economy. Sassoon’s book Saddam Hussein’s Ba`h Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2013) won the British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East. His previous publications include The Iraqi Refugees: The New Crisis in the Middle East (London, I.B. Tauris, 2009). He was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars during the 2014-15 academic year. Born in Baghdad, Sassoon completed his PhD at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford.