The Crown Center for Middle East Studies is committed to conducting balanced and dispassionate research of the modern Middle East that meets the highest academic standards.

The Center seeks to help make decision- and opinion-makers better informed about the region. The scope of the Center’s research includes the 22 members of the Arab League as well as Turkey, Iran, and Israel. The Crown Center’s approach is multi-disciplinary in its study of the politics, economics, history, security, sociology, and anthropology of the region’s states and societies. 

Recent Events

April 21, 2020

Join us for a livestreamed Q&A session with Orkideh Behrouzan, author of our latest Crown Conversation: Iran's Response to the Coronavirus Crisis. In this Q&A session, we will dive deeper into the political and historical context of the coronavirus crisis in Iran and answer your questions.

Audio now available!

Recent News and Publications

Middle East Brief 136 (Summary) — From the Arab Spring uprisings to the anti-racist demonstrations spreading across the U.S. and the globe today, waves of mass protest are often seen as ephemeral moments of anger. They typically are judged to be a success or failure based on the extent to which they produce direct political change. In this Brief, Youssef El Chazli uses Egypt’s 2011 revolution to highlight the often-overlooked effects that participation in mass protests has on individuals' lives after they leave the streets. He argues that participating in mass public protests forced many Egyptians to examine their private lives and beliefs and question what was normal and what was possible in other spheres of life, including friendship circles, family, and the workplace. Although mass protests may subside, they shape participants on issues related to gender, parenting, and professional careers. These effects are easy to overlook yet can increase the propensity for long-term social, political, and cultural change.

July 2, 2020

Crown Conversations 3 (Summary) — The killing of an African-American man, George Floyd, by police in Minneapolis on May 25 triggered a wave of protests and acts of civil disobedience throughout the United States. These protests were accompanied by demonstrations of solidarity across the globe. In this Crown Conversation, we asked three members of the Crown Center research team—Hayal Akarsu, Yazan Doughan, and Youssef El Chazli—to reflect on how their research on related topics in Turkey, Jordan, and Egypt sheds light on aspects of this global moment of mobilization, demand for police reform, and reexamination of racial and social inequalities.

In the News (Summary) — In the last 15 years, the Turkish National Police have invested heavily in "community policing," espousing the belief that a strong police‐public relationship will curtail authoritarian policing and police violence. Yet, this reform has intensified popular desires for more policing and fostered a new type of citizen‐police subject, what I call citizen forces. The purportedly liberal tool of community policing turned the previously despised figure of the police informer into a respected practitioner of engaged, responsible, and vigilant citizenship. When functioning as ancillary police forces, citizen forces can help consolidate state power and aggravate state repression, especially against suspect Others. Emerging mostly at the neighborhood level, such forms of policing and politicization demonstrate the increasing complicity and mutual constitution of police and citizens, as well as the formation of state‐sponsored vigilantism.

Middle East Brief 135 (Summary) — Long criticized for human rights abuses, the Turkish National Police underwent significant reforms in the early 2000s as part of Turkey’s effort to join the European Union. International donors and experts encouraged Turkey to import best practices of community policing and proactive crime prevention from the West. These reforms, it was thought, would protect human rights, improve governance, and further the democratization of the country. In this Brief, Hayal Akarsu argues that this remodeling of the Turkish police had the paradoxical effect of strengthening state surveillance in Turkey. Importing proactive policing practices enabled the Turkish police to infiltrate into the everyday lives of ordinary people to an extent that it had never before done. Granting the police discretion to punish "potential criminality" in public spheres facilitated arbitrary policing, and police-led social projects focused on "social risks" brought the police into the private homes of citizens. Instead of democratizing policing in Turkey, these reforms actually provided the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) with a new toolkit to strengthen its hold on power.

April 11, 2020

Crown Conversations 2 (Summary) — Iran has been one of the worst hit countries by the current global outbreak of a coronavirus disease (officially known as COVID-19), with the World Health Organization acknowledging over 4,200 deaths and 68,000 confirmed cases in the country as of April 11, 2020. In this Crown Conversation, we discuss the political and historical context of the crisis, including the Iranian government’s response to it, with Orkideh Behrouzan, a medical anthropologist and physician and the author of Prozak Diaries: Psychiatry and Generational Memory in Iran (Stanford University Press, 2016).