The CMES Middle East Forum and the Middle East Initiative, Harvard Kennedy School present
A book talk with authors
Nader Hashemi, Director, Center for Middle East Studies and Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics, Josef Korbel School of Int'l Studies, University of Denver,
Danny Postel, Assistant Director, Middle East and North African Studies Program, Northwestern University
Paul Gabriel Hilu Pinto, Universidade Federal Fluminense, Brazil
Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (Hurst Publishers, February 2017). As the Middle East descends ever deeper into violence and chaos, ‘sectarianism’ has become a catch-all explanation for the region’s troubles. The turmoil is attributed to ‘ancient sectarian differences,’ putatively primordial forces that make violent conflict intractable. In media and policy discussions, sectarianism has come to possess trans-historical causal power.
This book trenchantly challenges the lazy use of ‘sectarianism’ as a magic-bullet explanation for the region’s ills, focusing on how various conflicts in the Middle East have morphed from non-sectarian (or cross-sectarian) and nonviolent movements into sectarian wars. Through multiple case studies — including Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen and Kuwait — this book maps the dynamics of sectarianisation, exploring not only how but also why it has taken hold. The contributors examine the constellation of forces — from those within societies to external factors such as the Saudi-Iranian rivalry — that drive the sectarianisation process and explore how the region’s politics can be de-sectarianised.
Contact: Liz Flanagan