V. Middle East Congress on Politics and Society

The fifth Middle East Congress on Politics and Society organized by the Middle East Institute, Sakarya University, will be held online on November 14-162020. The congress aims to create a platform contributing to research on the Middle East and bring in new ideas and perspectives by drawing respective scientists together. Significant developments have occurred in the Middle East in the two year-period since the Fourth Congress held in 2018. It is our goal to look at historical, political, and social developments in the region. In doing so, different perspectives – as indicated below – will help widen our understanding of the region.

The Middle East has been a remarkable region throughout human history due to the geographical area it encompasses, the diversity of ethnic and religious structures it harbors, the civilizations it has built, and its long existence. Although there have been many studies and research tackling these aspects of the region from various perspectives, the need to further explore the Middle East is undeniable. Even after leaving behind one century, the region’s nation-states founded following World War I remain plagued by political, cultural, and social problems due to both foreign interventions and domestic rivalries. Inevitably, this prompts us to assess the historical legacy of the Middle East region and its unique structure in an extensive fashion.

The Middle East entered the 21st century bearing witness to important events. Especially, the popular uprisings since 2010 have had new outcomes for regional countries in the first place that have not been insignificant at the global level either. This added to the already existing complexity of the region. Contrary to democratic transition expectations, the Arab Uprisings have resulted in civil wars, and exacerbated the power struggle over the Gulf region and the Palestinian issue. Moreover, the presidential change in America and Donald Trump’s new Middle East policy have induced new dynamics.

While Trump’s decision on Jerusalem helped bring back the Palestinian issue on the region’s agenda, his strained Iran policy paved the way for the reconfiguration of regional alliances. On the other hand, Russia’s increasing involvement as a global power in regional issues has accelerated power struggles in the Middle East. These developments in all their details pose a new historical challenge to regional and global actors. This challenge begs, more than ever, the rethinking of a set of concepts and processes ranging from the relation of religion and state to state-society relations, from the existence of global actors in the region to the behavior of policymakers, and from seeking new alliances to power struggles.

Following the Arab Uprisings, the Middle Eastern landscape ushered in an era of a changing status quo and power struggles related to it. In this era, it can be contemporarily observed that traditional powers strive to reassert their positions. As a result of new conditions in the region, both policymakers and social scientists are required to re-evaluate social and political dynamics in the Middle East.

This congress aims to bring researchers and renowned scientists together to reconsider and discuss the current state of affairs in the region and its transformation, including issues of local communities, societies, and political structures (e.g. the last hundred years of the Middle East, transformation of political power, struggle for leverage, civil-military relations, democratic politics, new theo-political discourses, social legitimacy of authority, social justice, national self-determination, status of the Middle East in international politics, foreign policy, migration/refugees, the issue of Jerusalem). For the purpose of a better understanding of the historical process and social dynamics of the region, the Middle East Institute of the Sakarya University, which has been working to this end since its foundation, invites academics, political figures, and activists from all realms, to the Fifth Middle East Congress on Politics and Society.

The language of the congress is Turkish and English.

All submitted abstracts will be subject to double-blind review. Full papers that passed the evaluation process may be published (after the journal’s peer review decision) in the Turkish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies or in the Middle East Yearbook. Abstracts of no more than 250 words together with the abstract submission form, uploaded on our congress website, should be sent to middleeastcongress@gmail.com no later than October 2, 2020. For further information and updates, please visit www.middleeastcongress.org / www.ormer.sakarya.edu.tr. Papers are expected to be related to the topics put in preliminary panel contents below.


1- The Middle East and Social Issues a Decade after the Arab Uprisings

  • Middle East Politics following Arab Uprisings
  • Policies of Regional and Global Actors toward Arab Uprisings
  • Impact of Arab Uprisings on Regional Economies and Social Structures

2- Israeli-Palestinian Issue and International Politics

  • Israel’s Occupation Policies in Palestine
  • US Policy toward Israel/Palestine during the Trump Administration
  • Palestinian Politics: Hamas and al-Fatah

3- Gulf Region: Rising Actors in the Middle East

  • Political and Social Transformation in the Gulf States
  • Saudi and Emirati Policies toward the Middle East
  • Gulf Policies of Regional and International Actors

4- Global and Regional Rivalry in the Eastern Mediterranean

  • Libyan Crisis and Regional Security
  • Libya Policies of Global and Regional Actors
  • Emerging Regional Alliances in the Eastern Mediterranean Context

5- Syrian Civil War

  • Future of Local Actors in the Syrian Civil War
  • Syria Policies of Global and Regional Actors
  • Refugee Issue

6- Turkey – Middle East Relations

  • Turkey’s Relations with Regional Actors
  • Turkey’s Middle East Policy and Middle East Policies of Great Powers
  • Political Economy of Turkey’s Middle East Policy

7- Political Economy of the Middle East

  • Politico-economic Rivalry in the Middle East
  • Economy Policies of Great Powers toward the Middle East
  • Oil Crisis and its Impact

8- The Middle East in International Politics

  • US Middle East Policy
  • Russian Middle East Policy
  • The Role of Middle East Countries in International Politics

9- Migration and Refugees in the Middle East

  • Migration Movements in the Middle East
  • Migration inbetween International Security and Human Security
  • Future of Civil War and Refugees

10- Society, Religion and Politics in Iran

  • Iranian Foreign Policy and the Crises in the Middle East
  • Regional and Global Powers’ Relations with Iran
  • Social Movements in Iran and the Future of the Regime

11- The Political and Economic Crisis in Lebanon

  • Lebanese Demonstrations and their Socio-political Effects
  • The Beirut Port Blast and its Regional and International Effects
  • Economic Crisis: Impact on Lebanon, Syria, and other Regional Actors

12- Society and Politics in North Africa

  • Signs of the Socio-political Transformation in Tunisia
  • Libya’s Social Structure and the Civil War
  • New Dynamics in Algeria’s Social Movements
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