Florida Gulf Coast University will bring one of the world’s top experts on state formation in the Middle East and North Africa to campus Friday, Jan. 12, as part of its College of Arts & Sciences Lecture Series.
Dr. Lisa Anderson, senior lecturer at Columbia University School of International and Public Affairs and visiting lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, will address “The State and Its Competitors in the Arab World” at 6:30 p.m. in Edwards Hall 112. The free lecture, which will be preceded by a 6 p.m. reception, is made possible by a generous donation from Lee and Gene Seidler of Sanibel.
Dean Emerita of Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs, which she led from 1997-2007, Anderson served as president of the American University in Cairo from 2011-16 after starting at the university as provost in 2008. An accomplished author of several books and scholarly articles, Anderson’s research also has included work on regime change and democratization in developing countries and on social science and public policy in the United States and around the world.
All those areas of expertise play a role in her lecture at FGCU. For background, as states in the Arab world collapse into conflict, people of the region resort to other kinds of identities and institutions to provide the necessities of daily life in the 21st century, from religious sects to trading networks and family connections. How has the past century of state formation and deformation shaped these alternatives, and what might they mean for politics — in the region and beyond — in the coming decades?
“The European-style state introduced in the Arab world after World War I did not reflect local interests or aspirations, and the interwar imposition of these states in the region introduced deeply dysfunctional dynamics into modern political life,” Anderson said. “The new states came with expectations for government that would prove impossible to meet while imposing a system of rule that, far from creating citizens, often reinforced non-state identities and created deep communal resentment and anger.
“We see the result of this history today in the weakness of the contemporary states and the robustness of alternative political identities and movements across the region, from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood to Libya’s tribal militias, to Iraq’s Kurdistan to Yemen’s Houthi rebels,” she said.
Seating for the College of Arts & Sciences Lecture Series is limited. Register online for “The State and Its Competitors in the Arab World.” The next lecture in the series is Jan. 26 and features Dr. Robin Rogers, president and founder of 525 Solutions Inc. and Canada Excellence Research Chair in Green Chemistry and Green Chemicals at McGill University in Montreal. He will address the question “Can Renewable Resources Replace Plastics in a Sustainable Society?”