What explains the persistence of authoritarianism in the region in some cases even after longtime dictators were ousted?
For decades, the Middle East has been widely perceived as a bastion of authoritarianism and a hotbed of ethnic and religious politics and political violence. In late 2010 and early 2011, however, the Middle East witnessed an exhilarating wave of mass protests that brought millions to the streets to demand greater economic and political inclusion. Now, about five years later, a few countries have witnessed momentous changes for better and for worse while in others little appears to have changed at least on the surface. This course focuses on politics and development in the Middle East and, along the way, addresses a variety of questions or puzzles. What explains the persistence of authoritarianism in the region, in some cases even after longtime dictators were ousted? Why and how did the uprisings occur and what explains the varied trajectories in their wake? Why have Islamists gained (and, in some cases, lost) prominence in many Middle Eastern countries? Why are people killing each other in the name of religion at this moment in history, and how can we understand the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State? Why are so many countries unable to provide promising economic futures for their citizens?