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. 

Upcoming Events

February 2, 11:00am-12:15pm EST
A conversation with Natasha Iskander and Arang Keshavarzian
"Making the Gulf: Regulating Movements and Politics"

March 2, 11:00am-12:15pm EST
Caterina Scaramelli
"How to Make a Wetland: Water and Moral Ecology in Turkey"

April 6, 11:00am-12:30pm EDT
A roundtable with Aaron Jakes, Taylor Moore, and Ahmad Shokr
"Big Questions in Egyptian Historiography: Land, Labour, Capital, and Violence"

Catch up on past seminars over at our new YouTube channel.

Recent News and Publications

January 12, 2022

Middle East Brief 145 (Summary) — In its bid to revive an Iranian nuclear deal, the Biden Administration has promised to reverse the heavy sanctions burden placed on Tehran by President Trump. Yet, as Hadi Kahalzadeh argues in our latest Middle East Brief, turning back the clock to the pre-Trump era will not be so straightforward. Not only will it prove difficult to dismantle the sheer quantity of new sanctions imposed on Iran by the previous administration, but the economic impact of those sanctions has undermined the support for negotiations among the Iranian political elite and public. Analyzing recent household survey data, Kahalzadeh reveals the declining fortunes of the Iranian middle class under sanctions and explains how Iranian hardliners have used the implosion of the country’s private sector businesses to tighten their own grip on Iran’s economy. Although President Biden might be willing to negotiate a new nuclear deal, Kahalzadeh argues that his administration will find itself weighed down by the legacy of President Trump.

December 14, 2021

Crown Conversations 11 (Summary) — Ebrahim Raisi assumed office as the eighth president of the Islamic Republic of Iran on August 3, after winning the June presidential election. Replacing the centrist Hassan Rouhani, Raisi is often described as a conservative hardliner and ally of Ali Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader. Raisi's administration faces a myriad of challenges, including a floundering economy that remains under U.S. sanctions, the potential for renewed urban unrest, and one of the deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 in the world. In this Crown Conversation, we spoke with Nader Habibi and Amir Mahdavi about the administration's domestic and foreign policies and what they reveal about the direction in which the Islamic Republic is headed.

October 28, 2021

Crown Conversations 10 (Summary) — In May 2021, Israel and Hamas exchanged heavy fire, leading to the deaths of 10 Israelis, 3 foreign workers, and approximately 260 Palestinians, with many more injured. Events in Jerusalem were the immediate trigger for this round of violence, which provided Hamas an opportunity to assert itself as the guardian of Palestinian and Arab rights far beyond Gaza. In this Crown Conversation, we spoke with Shai Feldman about how the May conflict impacted Hamas and Israel domestically and internationally, as well as the prospects for change in their relationship.

September 17, 2021

Middle East Brief 144 (Summary)The creation of the suburban Baghdad district of Madinat al-Thawra (Revolution City, later known as Saddam City and today as Sadr City) in 1959 is widely remembered as a heroic act by Iraq’s new republican government to house the thousands of rural migrants living at the time in reed mat and mudbrick huts. In this Brief, Huma Gupta revisits the birth of this famous housing project and argues that it was not due to the benevolent action of a populist leader and should not be seen as a model for top-down development projects in Iraq. She traces how migrants who came to Baghdad in the early- to mid-twentieth century formed an enduring urban underclass that collectively organized to demand housing, services, and higher wages. Thawra was conceived in response to years of worker protests, but its creation led to violent land dispossession on Baghdad’s outskirts and the enclave’s lack of basic services exacerbated economic inequality and hardened patterns of class-based spatial segregation. This history of dispossession and deprivation help explain why Thawra/Saddam City/Sadr City became and remains to this day a center for mass-based social mobilization in Iraq.

August 31, 2021

In the News (summary) — From the dawn of the 1978–79 Iranian Revolution until the consolidation of Hizbullah in the late 1980s, a network of Iranian, Lebanese, and Palestinian clerics played a crucial role in spreading the revolution to Lebanon and laying the groundwork for Hizbullah. Whereas the historiography of the post-1979 Iran–Lebanon relationship is overwhelmingly focused on Hizbullah, the present study, by drawing on oral history interviews with these clerics and archival materials, contends that the Iranian Revolution came to Lebanon primarily through these Shi‘i and Sunni clerics, who joined ranks and established the Association of Muslim ‘Ulama’ in Lebanon in the wake of the 1982 Israeli invasion. This study argues that these clerics modeled their struggle on the ‘ulama’-led and mosque-based example of the 1978–79 revolution, which this paper describes as the Khomeinist script, to transcend sect to seed a revolution in Lebanon and mass mobilize against the invasion. This article concludes that the ecumenical script was highly appealing to non-Shi‘i Islamists, a key factor in the success of exporting the revolution and the rise of Hizbullah in Lebanon.