Drawing on various perspectives and analysis, the Handbook problematizes Middle East politics through an interdisciplinary prism, seeking a melioristic account of the field. Thematically organized, the chapters address political, social, and historical questions by showcasing both theoretical and empirical insights, all of which are represented in a style that ease readers into sophisticated induction in the Middle East.

It positions the didactic at the centre of inquiry. Contributions by forty-four scholars, both veterans and newcomers, rethink knowledge frames, conceptual categories, and fieldwork praxis. Substantive themes include secularity and religion, gender, democracy, authoritarianism, and new "borderline" politics of the Middle East. Like any field of knowledge, the Middle East is constituted by texts, authors, and readers, but also by the cultural, spatial, and temporal contexts within which diverse intellectual inflections help construct (write–speak) academic meaning, knowing, and practice. By denaturalizing notions of singularity of authorship or scholarship, the Handbook plants a dialogic interplay animated by multi-vocality, multi-modality, and multi-disciplinarity.

Targeting graduate students and young scholars of political and social sciences, the Handbook is significant for understanding how the Middle East is written and re-written, read and re-read (epistemology, methodology), and for how it comes to exist (ontology).

chapter 1|18 pages

Writing Middle East politics

A field in transit
ByLarbi Sadiki

part I|148 pages

Knowledge frames and horizons

chapter 2|49 pages

Middle of where? East of what?

Simulated postcoloniality’s assemblages, rhizomes, and simulacra
ByLarbi Sadiki

chapter 3|18 pages

Travelling the Middle East without a map

Three main debates
ByBahgat Korany

chapter 4|14 pages

Literature in the Arab postcolony 1

Bymiriam cooke

chapter 5|11 pages

The primacy of fieldwork

Inductive explorations of the MENA state
ByLaurie A. Brand

chapter 6|14 pages

Nationalism in the Arab Middle East

Resolving some issues
ByJames L. Gelvin

chapter 7|12 pages

Studying the international relations of the Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf

A personal account and a theoretical overview
ByF. Gregory Gause

chapter 8|15 pages

Committed history

Sticking to facts and adhering to principles
ByIlan Pappe

chapter 9|13 pages

Reimagining the Middle East and its place in the world

ByRobert R. Bianchi

part II|73 pages

Towards re-conceptualizations of the democratic and the authoritarian

chapter 10|11 pages

Survey research and the study of politics in the Arab world

ByMark Tessler

chapter 11|17 pages

Authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa

The trajectories of the MENA republics
ByRaymond Hinnebusch

chapter 12|19 pages

‘Economic reform’ since the 1980s

The political corollaries of a political project
ByEberhard Kienle

chapter 13|12 pages

Overcoming exceptionalism

Party politics and voting behaviour in the Middle East and North Africa
ByFrancesco Cavatorta

chapter 14|12 pages

Elections in authoritarian contexts 1

The case of Algeria
ByYoucef Bouandel

part III|75 pages

The secular and the religious

chapter 15|13 pages

The challenges of researching political Islam

ByBeverley Milton-Edwards

chapter 16|13 pages

The other side of Middle Eastern studies

On democracy, violence and Islam
ByAbdelwahab El-Affendi

chapter 17|12 pages

Sectarian fault lines in the Middle East

Sources of conflicts, or of communal bonds?
ByKeiko Sakai, Kota Suechika

chapter 18|11 pages

The unseen in the Islamic awakening

Walking with the Muslim Jesus
ByRaymond William Baker

chapter 19|12 pages

Re-thinking shīʿī political theology

ByNaser Ghobadzadeh

chapter 20|12 pages

Patronage in reverse and the secular state in Egypt 1

ByMohammed Moussa

part IV|59 pages

Gendered relations and realities

chapter 21|16 pages

Gender and politics in the Middle East 1

ByNicola Pratt

chapter 22|13 pages

Islam and resistance in the Middle East

A methodology of Muslim struggle and the impact on women
ByMaria Holt

chapter 23|14 pages

Gender, religion, and politics in Jewish and Muslim contexts

The case of Israel
ByLihi Ben Shitrit

chapter 24|14 pages


Still a useful category to analyze Middle East political history? A view from Egypt (1919–2019)
ByLucia Sorbera

part V|92 pages

Borderline politics

chapter 25|15 pages

Social movement studies and the Middle East

ByAnne Marie Baylouny

chapter 26|11 pages

Sports and politics

The turbulent world of Middle East soccer
ByJames M. Dorsey

chapter 27|14 pages

Various faces of violent radicalisation in the Syrian crisis

The case of Tripoli
ByMarie Kortam

chapter 29|14 pages

Start with the art

New ways of understanding the political in the Middle East
ByKirsten Scheid

chapter 30|10 pages

Truth to power

On digital scene making 1
ByTarek El-Ariss

chapter 31|13 pages

Bread and its subsidy

Some reflections
ByJosé Ciro Martínez

part VI|98 pages

Conceptual categories

chapter 32|9 pages

Distributive politics in the Middle East

ByLisa Blaydes

chapter 33|14 pages

The rule of law in the contemporary Arab Middle East

ByDavid Mednicoff

chapter 34|13 pages

The politics of identity in the Middle East

Rereading Arab nationalism
ByYoussef M. Choueiri

chapter 35|14 pages

On the intertwinement of the political and the intellectual in modern Arab history 1

ByElizabeth Suzanne Kassab

chapter 36|10 pages

Studying the Middle East security sector

A conceptual framework
ByOren Barak

chapter 38|14 pages

The theoretical and methodological traps in studying sectarianism in the Middle East

Neo-primordialism and “clichéd constructivism” 1
ByRima Majed

chapter 39|13 pages

Tentative notes on Syria’s uprising

Researching protest politics in the diaspora
ByLayla Saleh

part VII|71 pages

Navigating the field

chapter 40|11 pages

Researching Iranian history and politics

A guide for the perplexed
ByAli M. Ansari

chapter 41|12 pages

Investigating tribalism and civil society in Qatar

ByAli A. Hadi Alshawi

chapter 42|12 pages


The case of politics, tribes, and instability
ByBakeel Alzandani

chapter 43|14 pages

Is sustainable development possible under occupation?

The case of Palestine
ByBasem Ezbidi

chapter 44|13 pages

Palestinian politics in one century, from Sykes-Picot to post-Oslo Accords

A time for a re-evaluation
ByAs’ad Ghanem

chapter 45|7 pages

Concluding remarks

Quandaries of researching Middle East politics
BySheila Carapico