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2013 Conference

Friday, March 8, 2013 | 10:30 AM – 2:00 PM
Smith Memorial Student Union, 2nd floor
1825 SW Broadway, Portland, OR

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10:30 AM

Panel I: Contemporary Politics and Economics in the Middle East

Room: Smith Memorial Student Union, room 238

Faculty Discussant: Patricia Goldsworthy-Bishop, Western Oregon University, Assistant Professor of Transnational European and Middle East/North African History

Student Presenters:

  • Andrew Alexander, Portland State University, Challenges of a Post-Revolution Tunisia 
    + view abstract
    Tunisia is perched upon the precipice that could alter the future of the region. Often regarded as the most promising country from the Arab spring for democratization and initially viewed with great optimism, Tunisia faces many challenges in the wake of its revolution in 2011. The political climate is rapidly changing in Tunisia and the country will soon face decisions regarding its constitution, elected officials, and even the government structure. Because many Tunisians feel the political parties are disingenuous and some members of the old regime still remain, they are torn between a left leaning secularist and a more Islamic centered government. Additionally, it appears that Salafi groups are growing. Tunisia also struggles with a high unemployment, particularly of those who are educated. This population is being targeted and recruited by violent religious extremists. The Ennahda must find a balance between the moderate Islamists and the secularists and build a government with equal representation. The government must also find a way to deal with violent Salafis and other extremist religious groups. This paper will analyze the challenges modern Tunisia must face which will determine the post-revolution government and affect the region.
  • Aubrey Bauer, Reed College, Abstracting Utopia: Early Kibbutz Architecture and the Politics of Space in Israeli-Palestinian Landscapes
    + view abstract
          Six decades of Zionist Jewish immigration preceded the declaration of the state of Israel: it was during this turbulent era that diverse actors—local and international, individual and collective—produced the ideological and infrastructural foundation for contemporary Israel and its contested Palestinian territories: the kibbutz. While the majority of Jewish immigrants flowed into Palestine’s urban centers, a small movement of Socialist-Zionists sought the redemption of Jewish identity and capitalist society in co-operative, communist agrarian settlements. In a remarkable synthesis of World Zionist Organization bureaucracy and Socialist ideology, the planning and building of kibbutz settlements gradually developed into a unique, modernist design typology.
    The memory of this period remains central to the contemporary Israeli national identity; this narrative is, however, typically limited to a romantic vision of pioneer bravery and utopian idealism. Similarly, international social science discourses generally regard the kibbutz and its unique socio-spatial organization as an exceptional moment of utopian experimentation in human solidarity and co-habitation. It is simultaneously this chapter of Jewish settlement that was instrumental in the territorial expansion of Jewish colonization and its defense during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
    The kibbutz, therefore, maintains a dual existence in national and international discourse as architect of the present volatile ethnic and natural landscape of Israel, as well as an unprecedented moment of architectural innovation and intentional social engineering. If the kibbutz could qualify as an exceptional space—political or aesthetic—then is it necessarily the type of anomaly imagined in public memory? Drawing from the theories of Michel Foucault and postmodern semiotics, I will argue that the multi-dimensional space of the kibbutz is not an isolated site of exception, but a convergence and transformation of the same spatial and discursive practices essential to the establishment of Israel.
  • Karen Lickteig, Portland State University, Competitive Urbanism and the Arabian Gulf: Divergent Urban Development Models in Dubai, Doha and Muscat 
    + view abstract
    The Arabian Gulf region has seen rapid economic and urban growth in the past few decades. However, Gulf cities have not followed the same models of urban development. This paper will examine the variance in urban development models in the Gulf region, particularly analyzing the approach of “Dubaification” and competitive urbanism—practiced in Dubai, United Arab Emirates and Doha, Qatar—in contrast to the model of Muscat, Oman. The urban development plans of these cities reflect the aspirations of their leaders on the global stage. For Dubai and Doha, this means an outward-looking and top-down approach that seeks to attract large, foreign organizations to conduct business in their cities. Along the same line, these governments also aspire for their countries to become key global powers, economically and politically. They have followed a model of competitive urbanism, seeking to create the biggest and flashiest and to outdo their neighbors. In contrast, the Omani approach to urban development has been an inward-looking and bottom-up view that emphasizes the needs of the Omani community, rather than foreign entities. This development model reflects the more modest approach to foreign policy and global projection taken by the Omani government.
  • Anna Schneider, Gettysburg University, Changes, Motivations, and Success in Turkey’s Foreign Policy 
    + view abstract
          Since the rise of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2002, much discussion has surrounded the continuity and change in Turkey’s foreign policy. The AKP been elected several times with a majority vote, allowing them to make significant contributions to the foreign policy agenda. Developments in the Middle East and Turkey’s subsequent responses seem to indicate that the AKP has made its neighbors a priority over the West. Many have argued, however, that the AKP continues to pursue European Union membership, specifically in terms of domestic policy. Perceiving itself to be a regional leader and often identified as a supposed “bridge” or “crossroads” between East and West, Turkey’s relationship with the United States has undergone a transformation, as well.
    This paper aims to understand where Turkish foreign policy has followed a line of continuity and where it has changed as a result of the AKP. It details the evolution of Turkey’s policies since the post-Cold War period and seeks to examine what the underlying motivations of the AKP’s foreign policy are. This pertains to religious and non-religious motivations. Finally, the study discusses how successful the AKP has been in consideration of its own policies and whether it has been considered successful both domestically and internationally. In order to better understand perceptions surrounding the AKP, surveys and interviews were conducted at Izmir University of Economics. It was then hypothesized that Turkish policy has shifted under the AKP as a result of the AKP’s underlying Islamic motivations. These changes, however, have been viewed as successful. As Turkey is a key player in the Middle East, research surrounding its role in the region is becoming increasingly important and this study seeks to contribute to a greater understanding of the AKP’s position and aspirations.

10:30 AM

Panel II: Women & Gender in North Africa

Room: Smith Memorial Student Union, room 236

Faculty Discussant: Oren Kosansky, Lewis and Clark University, Associate Professor of Sociology & Anthropology and Department Chair

Student Presenters:

12:00 PM

Lunch & Middle East Opportunities Fair

Smith Memorial Student Union, room 294

The Middle East Opportunities Fair will showcase exhibitors with opportunities and services related to the Middle East.

Conference attendees are invited to browse the fair throughout the conference, from 10:00-2:00, with a 30 minute lunch period from 12:00-12:30 dedicated to the fair.

Exhibitors will include:

12:30 PM

Panel III: Transnational Identity and Migration

Location:  Smith Memorial Student Union, room 238

Faculty Discussant:  Paul Silverstein, Reed College, Associate Professor of Anthropology

Student Presenters: