Current Theme & Fellows

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Politics in the Contemporary Middle East and North Africa

The Middle East and North Africa have experienced serious political upheaval since the beginning of the 21th century. These events have corresponded with specific developments such as the ever-accelerating penetration of the Internet and social media from the late 1990s, followed by the attacks of 9/11 and the American military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, which further destabilized both societies. Then followed the second oil price boom (2004-2014), the dramatic increases in commodity prices (fuel, wheat, steel, etc.) and the inability of governments to maintain public subsidies for basic foodstuffs and energy.  All this took place as the region continued to suffer from unaccountable governance, endemic corruption of the political elite and crony capitalism as well as the repression and brutalization of citizens and the lack of economic opportunities. This welter of factors ultimately led to an explosion of popular anger and mobilization, beginning in late 2010 and lasting until today.  Governments throughout the region have responded with more repression, and in some cases, as in Syria, with the wholesale destruction of much of the country and the displacement of half its citizens. The research focus of the Transregional Institute (TRI) during the academic years 2019-2021 will be on the developments mentioned above. TRI’s researchers will take into account the political history of the region and analyze these recent dynamics using different disciplinary approaches with the aim of providing a better understanding of these contemporary political, social and economic changes in the Middle East and North Africa.



Elizabeth Perego

Elizabeth M. Perego, PhD is an historian of contemporary Algeria and its global and regional connections. Her scholarship examines the intersection of politics, culture, and gender in country as well as the modern Maghrib more generally. She is currently completing a book project entitled, De-mock-ratiyya: Humor, History, Protest, and Conflict in Algeria, 1988 to 2005, which explores comedy as a site of identity formation and expression of political ideas at times of heightened crisis and censorship. She also looks forward to conducting new research into the transnational and transregional histories of African identities and feminism across the Sahara and Middle East. Dr. Perego received her Ph.D. from the Ohio State University in 2017 and was Assistant Professor of History at Shepherd University.

She joined the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, North Africa & Central Asia as a postdoctoral research associate in January 2020. 



    Asher Orkaby

    Asher Orkaby, PhD is an associate research scholar at Princeton University’s Transregional Institute. He earned his PhD from Harvard University in International History and Middle Eastern Studies and is the author of Beyond the Arab Cold War: The International History of the Yemen Civil War, 1962-68 (Oxford University Press, 2017). Orkaby is also the author of a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press, What Everyone Needs to Know About Yemen. Over the course of the current conflict in Yemen, he has contributed regularly to Foreign AffairsThe National Interest, and many other policy publications and has commented on both English and Arabic media such as CSPAN, CGTN, Waqt News and Al-Hurra. His current research focuses on the history of chemical warfare in the Middle East.