Divided Societies, Volatile States: The Politics of Identity Post-Arab Spring

Divided Societies, Volatile States: The Politics of Identity Post-Arab Spring

The popular demonstrations during the Arab Spring not only transformed the political and societal landscape across the Middle East but also challenged deep-rooted notions about the role played by national, ethnic and religious identity in the politics of the region. What are the historical roots and recent developments that have led to deepening ethnic and sectarian schisms? How does identity politics influence democratization and governance? What can local, regional and international actors do to limit the violence and extremism associated with specific forms of identity politics and encourage more inclusive political systems? 

This Center for the Middle East conference brought together regional and international scholars with a wide range of expertise to explain current trends and offer policy prescriptions to promote more inclusive and stable political systems in the region. The conference focused on three areas where identity politics plays a key role: 1) sectarianism in the region; 2) gender, identity and conflict post-Arab Spring; and 3) Palestinians in Israel and the future of the Jewish state.

Scroll down to watch the videos of the conference proceedings, and view photos from the event on Facebook. Click on the presentation titles in the agenda to view the speakers' PowerPoint presentations.

Cover photo: Keynote speaker Shibley Telhami, Ph.D.



9:00 am    

Registration and Breakfast

9:30 am    

Welcome and Introduction

The Honorable Edward P. Djerejian
Founding Director, Baker Institute

9:35 am    

Keynote Address — Identity Selection in a Changing Middle East

Shibley Telhami, Ph.D.
Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development, University of Maryland, College Park
Nonresident Senior Fellow, Center for Middle East Policy, The Brookings Institution

10:30 am    
Panel I — Sectarianism in the Region

ModeratorKristian Coates Ulrichsen, Ph.D., Fellow for the Middle East, Baker Institute

“The Islamic State and Gulf Sectarianism”
Frederic Wehrey, Ph.D.

Senior Associate, Middle East Program, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

“Playing on Identity: Elite Struggle and Fragmented Politics in Kuwait”
Claire Beaugrand, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher, Institut Français du Proche Orient

“The Emergence of Identity Politics among the Shia in Saudi Arabia”
Toby Matthiesen, Ph.D.
Research Fellow in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, Cambridge University



1:00 pm     
Panel II — Gender, Identity and Conflict Post-Arab Spring

ModeratorMarwa Shalaby, Ph.D., Fellow for the Middle East and Director, Women's Rights in the Middle East Program, Baker Institute

Sectarian Politics in the Gulf: The Challenge to Women’s Rights
May Seikaly, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History, Department of Classical Languages, Literatures and Cultures, Wayne State University

“Narratives of Sacrifice: Palestinian Women, Violence and the Nation”
Maria Holt, Ph.D.
Reader in Politics, Department of Politics and International Relations, University of Westminster

Women’s Islamic Social Reform in Egypt: Beyond the Secular-Religious Divide
Sherine Hafez, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Gender and Sexuality Studies, University of California at Riverside

2:45 pm    


3:00 pm    
Panel III — Palestinians in Israel and the Future of the Jewish State

ModeratorAllen Matusow, Ph.D., Director of Academic Affairs, Baker Institute 

The Palestinian Minority in the Jewish State: Between Civic Status and National Security Concern
As'ad Ghanem, Ph.D.
Senior Lecturer, School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa

Civic Zionism and the Challenges of the 21st Century
Shuli Dichter
Executive Director, Hand-in-Hand Center for Jewish-Arab Education in Israel

4:15 pm    

Conference Adjourns






To view the entire conference, please click below:

Keynote Address: Identity Selection in a Changing Middle East

Panel I: Sectarianism in the Region

Panel II: Gender, Identity and Conflict Post-Arab Spring

Panel III: Palestinians in Israel and the Future of the Jewish State



Tue, March 10, 2015
9 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
(GMT-0500) US/Central


James A. Baker III Hall, Rice University
6100 Main Street
Houston, Texas 77005
United States

Kelly International Conference Facility