Volume 2015, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 2311-8148
  • EISSN:



I am delighted to be able to introduce this second issue of the MESSA Journal: delighted because it shows that what began as an ambitious experiment has proven itself and is growing into an institution; because the Journal - and the associated conference - are the result of a sustained pattern of student-led intellectual engagement that speaks directly both to our SFS remit and to our location; because it represents so well the range of social science interests (and methods) we ourselves at SFS-Q pursue; and because it brings together an impressive set of SFS-Q students with outstanding colleagues both from Qatar (from our Education City partner, Northwestern University Qatar) and the US (from our ‘mothership’ on the Hilltop in Washington), as well as from Harvard and the University of Southern California.

The theme - ‘narrowing the gap: conversations between governing and the governed’ - is of ever greater importance in the Middle East, even if, or precisely because, its practice has been so often constrained or even repressed. As economic and demographic challenges multiply and political and economic governance models have been found less than adequate, and as conversations about implied social contracts become inescapable, engagement in research and thinking about such matters is a matter of the highest importance. It is especially welcome that the

The dynamic between the ‘governing’ and the ‘governed’, of course, does not only appear at the national, state level (as, for example, in the article on Egypt as a ‘conflict state’, or, in a very original way, that on the repurposing of reggae music in Palestine): it suffuses formal and informal relations throughout society, from gender issues (see the articles on women’s status in Morocco, Iran and Somalia), to the politics of identity (the article on Jordan’s Black September and its impact), and the source and control of norms (see the article on Islamic authority being usurped by ulama and the state). At the same time, it also comes in regional or international flavors: see the articles on Nasser’s use of Sawt al-Arab to spread (Egypt-dominated) Pan-Arab norms (simultaneously affecting state-level dynamics between governed and governors elsewhere!), the divergent effects of historical quasi-colonial relations on oil governance, and the imposition of international sanctions on Sudan. Intra-societal debates on domestic and foreign policy can also reflect historical (and regional) factors and experiences - as shown in the article on the effect of the Iran-Iraq war on today’s Iran.

These pages offer a rich menu of exploration, and one that is not only of academic relevance!


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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