We would like to belatedly announce and explain an important change in the activities of the Project on Middle East Political Science. Several months ago, we decided to end our long relationship with Foreign Policy and our editorial role on the Middle East Channel. We are excited to continue our efforts to promote public engagement and the dissemination of research by academic Middle East specialists on The Monkey Cage at the Washington Post.
Leaving Foreign Policy was not an easy decision. We are very proud of the Middle East Channel, which we launched in 2010 as a platform for informed, non-partisan, policy-relevant analysis by top academic experts and analysts working in the region. Between 2010 and 2014, our small POMEPS team edited and published more than 1,000 articles on the Middle East Channel, including more than 450 by some 200 different university-based scholars. Those articles reached a very large and influential audience, without any compromises on analytical rigor, theoretical sophistication, or empirical richness. When the Middle East Channel was recognized as a finalist for a Digital Magazine Award for its coverage of the 2011 Arab uprisings, well over half of its articles were written by academics.
These articles didn’t only make timely contributions to understanding events, but also had enduring value. We published 21 collections of these articles in the POMEPS Briefings series on countries ranging from Egypt (September 9, 2011; August 21, 2012; March 4, 2013; July 23, 2013); Syria (May 5, 2011; February 27, 2012; December 8, 2013); Yemen (March 24, 2011; January 18, 2012; March 21, 2013); Bahrain (February 18, 2011; April 26, 2012); Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Kuwait, Tunisia, and Turkey. These POMEPS Briefings also engaged thematic issues such as sectarianism, the Arab monarchy debate, and Salafi Islamist movements. All will continue to be available for free download.
By early this year, however, we no longer felt that Foreign Policy offered the best platform for the kind of academic public engagement that POMEPS aims to promote. There is no need to rehearse the reasons for our decision. We are extremely proud of everything we published on the Middle East Channel, and grateful for the opportunity that Foreign Policy gave so many scholars to reach a wide audience. But the landscape has evolved, visions have diverged, and ultimately it became clear that it was time for a change.
We are therefore absolutely delighted with our new home at The Monkey Cage, whose name comes from H.L. Mencken’s famous observation that “democracy is the art of running the circus from the monkey cage.” The Monkey Cage has long been one of the premiere political science blogs, with the mission of disseminating high quality political science research and promoting public engagement by political scientists. Since joining the Washington Post last fall, The Monkey Cage has reached an even larger, diverse, and informed audience, and it has been significantly expanding its international coverage. There could not be a closer fit with the POMEPS mission.
We are delighted to invite academic Middle East specialists in the POMEPS network to submit essays for potential publication in The Monkey Cage. The POMEPS mission remains the same: to provide a platform for the best scholars, junior and senior alike, to directly engage and inform public discourse on the Middle East. Relevance doesn’t have to mean chasing headlines or presenting policy recommendations in op-ed format. We want well-written, empirically rich, theoretically sophisticated essays that make a real, original contribution. We are especially interested in pieces drawn directly from recently published or ongoing research that deserves a broader audience. Submissions should still be sent to me directly or to Mary Casey (me_casey at gwmail.gwu.edu), and if we don’t think it’s quite right for The Monkey Cage we will try to help POMEPS network members to find alternative venues.
We’d like to offer a sincere thanks to all of the hundreds of authors who have made such outstanding contributions to the Middle East Channel over the last four years. We look forward to continuing to work with POMEPS scholars at our new home. The Monkey Cage carries on tradition.
– Marc Lynch, with Mary Casey and Cortni Kerr