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Critical Middle East Studies Working Group

Originally funded by British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES), this network is organising a series of research events around the theme of knowledge production and exchange in the context of ‘democracy promotion’ in the Middle East. Relationships between knowledge production, policy-making and practice (the ‘Knowledge/Policy/Practice’ or KPP cycle) remain under-studied in Middle East Area Studies, where the critical turn emphasising the constructedness of knowledge has been less extensive than for other areas (e.g. Latin American studies).

At the same time, ‘democracy promotion’, or support for political transitions, is heavily influenced by dominant (and competing) paradigms of democracy/democratisation, development, human rights, and radicalisation. Policies and practices of democracy promotion in turn influence the production of new knowledges about political transitions, a process which is itself affected by factors ranging from research funding priorities, to institutional linkages and networks through to media priorities and world-altering events. We seek to understand how and why some knowledges and practices emerge victorious from such debates while others are marginalised.

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