Arab Studies Institute
Washington DC - Beirut
The Political Economy Project
The Political Economy Project (PEP) is an evolving project of the Arab Studies Institute, with research, pedagogic, and advocacy objectives. Our founding workshop will take place on April 24-25 at the Arab Studies Institute in Virginia (George Mason University). The workshop will serve as a launching pad for this project, and it will be followed by other workshops, conferences, research projects, resource building efforts, and other activities. We have been discussing this project for many years now. The idea behind PEP was essentially the impetus for what became Jadaliyya, but, at the time, we opted for a broader approach to the online publication, assuming that PEP might grow out of it. The Arab Uprisings then consumed us shortly after launching Jadaliyya, and the various projects associated with the Arab Studies Institute have since kept us busy. Today, we have consolidated most of our projects, tied many loose ends, regrouped, and set our eyes anew on what we hope will be a lifetime project that will begin with a series of meetings/workshops.
We have identified dozens of academics and writers in the region and beyond who may be interested in this project, and who would eventually form the broad network that we are seeking to build. In the meantime, however, we need to start building the framework, the launching pad, for all that is to come. We could not possibly invite everyone to this first meeting, so we are inviting primarily those with whom we have discussed the idea over the past few years and others who will help us broaden representation across disciplines, frameworks, geographical foci, and more. This initial meeting will be followed by subsequent ones, where we will try to involve as many interested parties as possible and collaborate with various like-minded organizations, groups, networks, and efforts.
A cornerstone of this project is to connect with analysts from the region, who often produce knowledge in their own language—mainly Arabic, but Persian and Turkish as well. Efforts will be made to avoid making this a Levant- and/or Egypt-centric endeavor, as we intend to cover the Arabian Peninsula, the countries of the Maghreb, as well as Turkey, Iran, and Israel. The comparative nature of the project will gradually draw in those working on other regions globally, many of whom are already in our database and have been approached by us.