Crown Papers

The Crown Papers are double-blind peer-reviewed monographs covering a wide-range of scholarship on the Middle East, including works of history, economics, politics, and anthropology. This publication series succeeds the Center’s earlier Working Papers and aims to showcase the scholarship of the Center’s postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and Research Fellows.

July 2012 – “Statisquo”: British Use of Statistics in the Iraqi Kurdish Question (1919-32)
Fuat Dundar

Crown Paper 7 (Summary) — In post-2003 Iraq, the Kurds have continuously appealed for territorial rights in the regions where they claim to be the majority and have demanded a quota in the Iraqi state apparatus. As a result, conducting a census has become one of the most important battlefields in Iraq’s contemporary politics. In this Crown Paper, Dr. Fuat Dundar traces the use of statistics as a political tool in Iraq back to the exploitation of statistical data during the British mandate period (1919-1932). He also examines sets of British, Turkish, Iraqi, and League of Nations population data within the political context of its time. In particular, Dr. Dundar illuminates how the population data on Kurds — collected by the British — were used to protect the latter’s political and military interests as well as to maintain the status quo. In this way, statistics, ordinarily considered to be a scientific and objective tool, became a subjective tool in the service of political disputes.

Read Crown Paper 7 (PDF)

Fuat Dundar was a Junior Research Fellow at the Crown Center in 2010-11. He is a researcher at the Zentrum Moderner Orient-Berlin and Erfurt University for the 2012-13 academic year.

June 2011 – GCC States’ Import Demand: The Effects of Geopolitics
Nader Habibi

Crown Paper 6 (Summary) —In recent years, the high price of crude oil and natural gas has increased the purchasing power of oil-exporting Arab countries and indirectly non-oil-exporting Arab countries. As a result, the competition among industrial countries to export goods and services to these countries has intensified. The available data show that as the total volume of imports by most Arab countries has sharply increased in the past ten years, the relative market shares of their trade partners have not remained stable; rather, they have fluctuated over time, with some countries gaining market share at the expense of others. In this Crown Paper, Prof. Nader Habibi examines the market shares of the United States, Western Europe, Japan, and China in the import markets of six Arab oil-exporting countries that belong to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Through statistical analysis, Prof. Habibi identifies trends and significant economic and geopolitical influences on the market share of each exporting country and region.


Nader Habibi is the Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East at the Crown Center.

April 2011 – “We Serve the People”: Hamas Policing in Gaza
Yezid Sayigh

Crown Paper 5 (Summary) — The government of Hamas prime minister Ismail Hanieh has showcased its success in delivering law and order and building a new police force largely from scratch since Hamas forces took complete control of Gaza in June 2007. It did so, moreover, while enduring an unbroken Israeli siege from June 2006 to July 2010, a sweeping political and financial embargo by the international “Quartet,” and Israel’s “Operation Cast Lead” in December 2008–January 2009. The Hamas-run security sector has demonstrated a sharp learning curve, reflected in its constant improvement of policing practice; the introduction of new departments, units, and procedures; and the development of an integrated criminal justice system. At the same time, the security sector has been used to spearhead the Islamization of society and to help in the reconstruction of public order in keeping with the Islamic and conservative social values of Hamas, while challenges from political rivals and competitors have prompted a tightening of security surveillance, increased intimidation, and the continuing suppression of some basic human rights and individual freedoms. In the absence of Palestinian national reconciliation and democratic governance, the provision of law and order has fused with the need to maintain security and the struggle to ensure political survival, generating a new authoritarianism.


Yezid Sayigh is Professor of Middle East Studies in the Department of War Studies at King’s College London.

November 2010 – Li Kulli Fir’awn Musa: The Myth of Moses and Pharaoh in the Iranian Revolution in Comparative Perspective
H. E. Chehabi

Crown Paper 4 (Summary) — The biblical account of the confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh has inspired a large number of revolutionaries in the Christian world who have identified themselves with Moses and their enemy with Pharaoh. In this Crown Paper, Prof. Houchang Chehabi extends the analysis of what scholars have termed the “myth of Moses and Pharaoh” to the Muslim world, and provides a case-study of how this myth has played itself out in the Shiite political Islam of Iran since 1979.


Prof. H. E. Chehabi is a Professor of International Relations and History at Boston University. He has taught at Harvard, Oxford, and UCLA, and has held Alexander von Humboldt and Woodrow Wilson fellowships.

Oct. 2009 – The Uncommonality of “A Common Word”
Joseph Lumbard

Crown Paper 3 (Summary) — Since its inception in 2006, the Common Word initiative has quickly become one of the most significant interfaith movements of the modern era. Tracing the evolution of this historic movement, this Crown Paper assesses the forces that gave rise to the Common Word, the reactions from all quarters, and the movement it has spurred. With significant figures, such as King Abdullah II of Jordan, the Pope, Archbishops and Grand Muftis, the Common Word has become a geo-theological initiative with geo-political implications. It also examines the progress to date and areas in which the movement may continue to bear fruit.


Joseph Lumbard is a former advisor for interfaith affairs to King Abdallah II of Jordan, Assistant Professor of Classical Islam at Brandeis University and Chair of the Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies Program.

July 2009 – From Visiting Graves to Their Destruction: The Question of Ziyara through the Eyes of Salafis
Ondrej Beranek and Pavel Tupek

Crown Paper 2 (Summary) — Ziyara, grave visitation in Salafi Islam, is a significant religious, social and cultural phenomenon. The authors assess the vigorous debates and divisions that emerged soon after the rise of Islam, such as the legality of building domes over graves, the permissibility of grave visitations by women, and the leveling of graves. Analyzing the legal opinions of Ibn Taymiyya, a crucial figure of Salafi thought, and his zealous followers, this Crown Paper traces the transformation of grave visitation into a doctrinal question, and the connection, be it directly or not, to the destruction of graves in the contemporary Middle East.


June 2008 – Managing the Oil Wealth: Foreign Assets of GCC Countries June
Nader Habibi

Crown Paper 1 (Summary) — Record high oil revenues in the past five years have led to the accumulation of sizable foreign assets. The value of these assets in Gulf Cooperation Council countries (GCC) are expected to reach at least $2,800 billion by 2012. Prof. Nader Habibi’s Crown Paper assesses the size of the considerable GCC foreign assets, the projections for their growth over the next five years, the allocation of these investments among various types of financial and physical assets. Throughout, the political and strategic considerations that affect GCC investors’ preferences for various investment in geographical areas is analyzed. Special attention is given to the substantial Sovereign Wealth Funds and the implications of the call for multilateral regulations.