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

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

chapter 3|18 pages

Travelling the Middle East without a map

Three main debates

chapter 4|14 pages

Literature in the Arab postcolony 1

chapter 5|11 pages

The primacy of fieldwork

Inductive explorations of the MENA state

chapter 6|14 pages

Nationalism in the Arab Middle East

Resolving some issues

chapter 7|12 pages

Studying the international relations of the Arabian Peninsula/Persian Gulf

A personal account and a theoretical overview

chapter 8|15 pages

Committed history

Sticking to facts and adhering to principles

part II|73 pages

Towards re-conceptualizations of the democratic and the authoritarian

chapter 11|17 pages

Authoritarianism in the Middle East and North Africa

The trajectories of the MENA republics

chapter 12|19 pages

‘Economic reform’ since the 1980s

The political corollaries of a political project

chapter 13|12 pages

Overcoming exceptionalism

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

chapter 14|12 pages

Elections in authoritarian contexts 1

The case of Algeria

part III|75 pages

The secular and the religious

chapter 16|13 pages

The other side of Middle Eastern studies

On democracy, violence and Islam

chapter 17|12 pages

Sectarian fault lines in the Middle East

Sources of conflicts, or of communal bonds?

chapter 18|11 pages

The unseen in the Islamic awakening

Walking with the Muslim Jesus

part IV|59 pages

Gendered relations and realities

chapter 22|13 pages

Islam and resistance in the Middle East

A methodology of Muslim struggle and the impact on women

chapter 24|14 pages


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

part V|92 pages

Borderline politics

chapter 26|11 pages

Sports and politics

The turbulent world of Middle East soccer

chapter 27|14 pages

Various faces of violent radicalisation in the Syrian crisis

The case of Tripoli

chapter 29|14 pages

Start with the art

New ways of understanding the political in the Middle East

chapter 30|10 pages

Truth to power

On digital scene making 1

chapter 31|13 pages

Bread and its subsidy

Some reflections

part VI|98 pages

Conceptual categories

chapter 34|13 pages

The politics of identity in the Middle East

Rereading Arab nationalism

chapter 36|10 pages

Studying the Middle East security sector

A conceptual framework

chapter 38|14 pages

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

Neo-primordialism and “clichéd constructivism” 1

chapter 39|13 pages

Tentative notes on Syria’s uprising

Researching protest politics in the diaspora

part VII|71 pages

Navigating the field

chapter 40|11 pages

Researching Iranian history and politics

A guide for the perplexed

chapter 42|12 pages


The case of politics, tribes, and instability

chapter 43|14 pages

Is sustainable development possible under occupation?

The case of Palestine

chapter 45|7 pages

Concluding remarks

Quandaries of researching Middle East politics