APSA-MENA Politics Newsletter 4.1 – Spring 2021


We are delighted to present the Spring 2021 issue of the APSA MENA Politics Newsletter. This issue begins with a short profile of the MENA Scholars Barometer, a new biannual survey of scholars of the region launched earlier this year by Shibley Telhami (University of Maryland) and myself, with the cooperation of the Section, the Middle East Studies Association and the Project on Middle East Political Science.  The Newsletter then presents a feature research essay by Shimaa Hatab (Cairo University).  Ten years on from the eruption of the Arab Uprisings, Hatab urges adopting a cross-regional and historical perspective to help shed light on the post-uprisings’ trajectories in the region’s transitions.

Two rich, exciting symposia round out the Newsletter. The first, edited and introduced by Alexandra Blackman and Lama Mourad, surveys new research and methods in the rich terrain of spatial studies. Alexei Abrahams (Harvard University) and Diana Greenwald (City College of New York) show how geospatial research can help complement other types of data in the study of Palestine. Christiana Parreira shows how satellite imagery and nighttime light data can be used to explore state capacity and service provision. Emily Scott discusses the use of GIS methods to inform the study and practice of humanitarian aid provision.  Ashrakat Elshehawy explores the uses and availability of historical maps for political science research, while Ahmad Gharbieh presents a fascinating discussion of the assumptions behind mapmaking and the results of creative efforts to develop alternative approaches to mapping urban life. Finally, Julia Clark shows how data on changes in municipal boundaries which are not publicly available can be generated and used for political science research.

The second symposium, edited by Nermin Allam, Justin Gengler, Lisel Hintz and Noora Lori explores some critical dimensions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Sultan Alamer, Rana Mamdouh and Nathan Brown dissect the differences in Saudi and Egyptian responses to COVID-19 by examining their past experiences with infectious disease. Başak Yavçan digs deep into the local level to show the micropolitics of Turkey’s response, while Aida Essaid shows the problems with assessing the Jordanian state response in refugee communities. Robert Kubinec finally offers thoughts on new methodological approaches which could strengthen the use of the online surveys to which many scholars have turned in the face of the inability to travel for research.

We hope you find this issue of the MENA Politics Newsletter as compelling and interesting as we do, and always welcome your feedback and suggestions for future articles and symposia.

Marc Lynch

Chair of the MENA Politics Section and Newsletter Editor

Prerna BalaEddy, Tessa Talebi

Newsletter Assistant Editors



Section News 

Letter from the Editor 

     Marc Lynch 

Introducing the New Editorial Team 

     Marc Lynch 

 The Middle East Scholar Barometer 

     Marc Lynch 

A Note From APSA 

     Ahmed Morsy and Andrew Stinson 


Feature Article 

Democratic Waves and the Arab Uprisings  

     Shimaa Hatab  


Research Symposium: Taking Space Seriously  

Introduction: Taking Space Seriously: The Use of Geographic Methods in the Study of MENA  

     Alexandra Domike Blackman and Lama Mourad  

Geospatial Research in Settings of Contested Sovereignty  

     Alexei Abrahams and Diana Greenwald 

Mapping Municipal Change in Tunisia  

     Julia Clark 

Using Historical Maps for the Political Science Research of the Middle East 

     Ashrakat Elshehawy 

Contesting Hard-Line Boundaries: Towards a Reconceptualization of Beirut’s Neighborhoods  

     Ahmad Gharbieh 

Spatial Approaches to the Study of Local Governance and Service Provision in the Middle East  

     Christiana Parreira  

Using GIS to understand how humanitarian aid moves  

     Emily K.M. Scott 


Research Symposium: COVID-19 and MENA Political Science  

Introduction: Covid-19 and MENA Political Science: Impacts on Research and Region  

     Nermin Allam, Justin Gengler, Lisel Hintz, Noora Lori 

Deploying Authority: Saudi Arabia and Egypt Strive to Respond to COVID-19  

     Sultan Alamer, Rana Mamdouh, and Nathan J. Brown 

Understanding Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic in Turkey: Politics of the Local  

     Başak Yavçan 

The Impact of COVID-19 on Forcibly Displaced and Marginalized Communities with a Focus on Child Marriages in Jordan  

     Aida Essaid 

Pandemic-Safe Research with Online Surveys  

     Robert Kubinec