Abstract | Robert Springborg will provide the basis for the discussion by presenting his new book ‘Political Economies of the Middle East and North Africa’ (Polity Press, 2020), which focuses on national and regional politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to explain why economies there are underperforming. Variations in performance are traced to historically rooted capacities of states. Those countries whose pedigrees as virtual nation states extend over centuries or millennia today have more capable states than those with shallower, indigenous historical roots. But virtually all MENA states are relatively weak as compared for example to East Asian developmental states. Incapable of establishing mutually beneficial interactions with the typically heterogenous societies over which they rule, MENA states resort to repression or patronage as the default means of ruling. Neither method is compatible with citizenship, “public brainpower,” or sustainable economic development.
Speaker | Robert Springborg is a Research Fellow of the Italian Institute of International Affairs, Rome. Formerly he was Professor of National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, and Program Manager for the Middle East for the Center for Civil-Military Relations; the holder of the MBI Al Jaber Chair in Middle East Studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, where he also served as Director of the London Middle East Institute. Previously he was the Director of the American Research Center in Egypt.
Discussant | Virginie Collombier (Middle East Directions Programme, EUI)
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