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FPRI’s Middle East Program – 2015 At a Glance
January 12, 2016
Productivity & Reach
In 2015, FPRI’s Middle East program – comprised of 17 scholars based both locally and globally – was extremely active.
The Middle East program scholars published regularly on critical developments and trends in the Middle East through its E-Notes article series; V-Notes video essay series; Middle East Media Monitor essay series meant to shed light on foreign language press coverage of regional developments; Footnotes bulletin for educators; Geopoliticus – The FPRI Blog; E-Books; and Orbis, FPRI’s quarterly journal of world affairs.
FPRI also hosted diverse Middle East-related programming, bringing renowned experts to FPRI forums in New York City, Princeton, Philadelphia, the Main Line, and WashingtonD.C. to speak to professionals and engaged citizens about regional subjects that bear upon American foreign policy.
Robert A. Fox Fellows
In 2015, FPRI’s Middle East program was proud to announce that it named four Fox Fellows, who would spend the year (2015-2016) writing, speaking, and creating innovative platforms and resources on a wide range of timely issues related to the Middle East and North Africa, and U.S. policy therein. Sponsored by Robert A. Fox, these Fellows were chosen on the basis of their erudite contributions to FPRI in the past, and their ability to respond to contemporary developments in the region in a sound and timely fashion, based on FPRI’s focus on geopolitical analysis.
FPRI’s Middle East scholars and trustees were cited and quoted extensively in 2015 in major online and print news media, including, but not limited to, the following outlets:
FPRI Fox Fellow Clint Watts, who focuses on ISIS, Al-Qaeda, and their recruits, was the most often cited and quoted scholar this year, totaling +45 citations in 2015 in many of the news outlets featured above. What’s more, his writings on behalf of FPRI were also routinely featured by third party news aggregates, such as Foreign Policy Magazine’s daily news brief on the region.
FPRI Middle East Director Tally Helfont was featured in August 2015 on Women in Foreign Policy (#wifp) – an organization geared at girls, young women, as well as women seeking a career in foreign policy. WiFP features successful women, at any stage of their career, who are already working in the field. To read the entire interview, click here.
FPRI’s Middle East scholars and trustees were also quite prolific in outside publication, writing +45 articles for an array of well-respected external publications suing their FPRI affiliations.
60th Anniversary Collection
In honor of FPRI’s 60th anniversary, the Middle Eat program produce a 181-page edited volume, showcasing a taste of the quality analysis it produced on a diverse array of topics over the past decade.The Best of FPRI’s Essays on the Middle East, 2005-2015 features scholarship on perennial themes such as authoritarianism and reform; the Arab uprisings and its aftermath; radicalism and regional threats; sectarian divisions; and the Arab-Israeli conflict and peace efforts.
FPRI V-Notes – Video Essays
FPRI launched yet another new platform to disseminate its research called V-Notes. Created by Senior Fellow Joseph Braude exclusively for FPRI’s Middle East program, V-Notes are video essays fusing scholarly rigor, rare footage, and innovative analysis to kick-start new conversations about American foreign policy toward the Arab world and beyond.
Episode 1 –”The Identity Machine” is a metaphor to explain the process by which states and trans-state actors attempt to instill a political identity through inculcation — using media, education, and “centers of moral authority,” notably religious leaders. Having provided ample illustrations of this phenomenon historically, this episode looks to the future and explores the potential for new “identity machines” to promote liberal universalist principles in Arab societies..
2015 Middle East History Institute
This year’s weekend-long Middle East History Institute was held in Philadelphia on “Understanding the Modern Middle East: History, Identity, and Politics,” and explored the nexus of identity and politics from the pre-modern period to the current day and beyond – with lectures by some of the best scholars in the country. Generously supported by Robert Fox and Gerry Lenfest, it was a great success by all accounts. Here’s what some of the 42 secondary school teachers from 20 different states had to say about the experience:
“Amazing amount of info. I always feel like I’ve had a semester of college in a day and a half. Always feel enlightened.”
“Absolutely fantastic! Personally and professionally affirming.”
“This was a fantastic introduction for me to FPRI; I look forward to attending more of these conferences in the future.”
Despite decades of achievements, FPRI acts like a start-up company born a day ago – developing new products and services, experimenting with new formats. FPRI Infographics are one such format, pioneered at FPRI by its Middle East program. Below is a taste of some of the static and interactive infographics on a wide array of regional topics, including Junior Fox Fellow Tamar Friedman’s “Understanding Electoral Systems in the Middle East” – an educational resource meant to give a general overview of electoral processes, and provide country specific examples in the Middle East demonstrating the application of these discrete electoral systems.