Memories of Justice: Distributive Politics and the Arab Uprisings


Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 4:10pm to 5:30pm


124 Mt. Auburn Street, Suite 200-North, Cambridge, MA

Steven HeydemannSteven Heydemann, United States Institute of Peace
Co-sponsored the Middle East Initiative, HKS

About the Seminar
This presentation will address questions about the extent to which issues of economic justice and popular preferences for distributive equity factor into repertoires of collective action in Arab societies, and continue to shape popular reactions to shifts in economic policy that expose citizens to increased levels of economic insecurity. Heydemann will focus on the historical processes through which popular conceptions of distributive justice became institutionalized within systems of economic governance in Arab societies in ways that have had enduring effects on state-society relations. He will argue that the intensity of redistributive preferences in the Arab world can be shown to be higher than in other comparable developing regions, and that this divergence is important for understanding both the mass uprisings that have swept the Middle East over the past year and the emerging politics around issues of social and distributive justice that have become especially prominent in post-authoritarian societies in the region.

About the Speaker
Steven Heydemann serves as senior advisor of Middle East Initiatives at the United States Institute of Peace. He was formerly the senior vice president of the Grants Program and as special adviser to the Muslim World Initiative at the United States Institute of Peace.

His research and teaching have focused on the comparative politics and the political economy of the Middle East. His interests include authoritarian governance, economic development, social policy, political and economic reform, and civil society. Heydemann has also researched the relationship between institutions and economic development and philanthropy and the nonprofit sector.

From 2003 to 2007, Heydemann directed the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. From 2001 to 2003, he was director of the Social Science Research Council’s Program on Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector, with additional responsibility for development of new programs. Prior to that, he was a program director at the SSRC, where he ran the Council’s Program on International Peace and Security and its Program on the Near and Middle East (1990-1997). From 1997 to 2001, he was an associate professor in the department of political science at Columbia University.

Heydemann has held visiting faculty positions at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies at the European University Institute in Florence (2001) and as a senior fellow at the Yale University Center for International Studies (1997). He has served on the board of directors of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) of North America and is currently a member of MESA’s Committee on Public Affairs.

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