From the Journals: Jordan; Syria; Homelands & Conflict; Political Islam

We’ve collected a few interesting and relevant journal articles as part of our new series From the Journals. This week, we’re highlighting:

Unequal Ground: Homelands and Conflict by Nadav G. Shelef. Nadav received a Travel-Research-Engagement from POMEPS in 2011, spoke at the POMEPS event “Evolving Nationalism: Homeland, Identity, and Religion in Israel,” and also contributed to the 2015 Nation and Nationalism POMEPS Studies.


Although there is a deep and wide consensus that international conflict over territory is especially common and destructive, there is less agreement over what it is about territory that leads to these outcomes. Understanding the role of territory in international conflict requires complementing realist and materialist understandings of the value of territory with one grounded in the constructivist theories that dominate studies of nationalism and geography. Doing so recognizes that homeland territoriality, because it raises the value of a specific territory and provides an imperative to establish sovereignty over it, plays a distinctive role in driving international conflict. This article presents a systematic, replicable operationalization of the homeland status of territory that, because it is consistent with constructivist theories of nationalism, can be used to integrate constructivist understandings of the role of territory into quantitative studies of territorial conflict. This measure is then used to test the implication that the loss of subjectively defined homeland territory increases the likelihood of international conflict relative to the loss of nonhomeland territory. The findings that dividing homelands is especially likely to lead to conflict are corroborated by a second novel measure of the homeland status of territory that is based on the identification of co-ethnics in a territory before the border was drawn.

International Organization, Cambridge Journals, Volume 70, Issue 01, Winter 2016, pp 33-63, Published online: 01 June 2015.

Revisiting Political Islam: Explaining the Nexus Between Political Islam and Contentious Politics in the Arab World by Dilshod Achilov.


This study introduces a new framework to conceptualize and measure political Islam, and (2) examines the empirical nexus among Islamic religiosity, ideological support for political Islam (ISPI), and collective protests in the Arab Middle East. Analyzing cross-national attitudes in five Arab states, I conduct a principal component analysis to construct a new index to account for a variation in ISPI, and examine the effects thereof on participation in collective protests. The evidence shows that Islamic religiosity matters in challenging political elites via collective action. While politically moderate Muslims appear more likely to engage in nonviolent, collective political protests, political radicals seem less likely to do so. The findings suggest that political ideology plays a central role in moderating the intricate relationship between Islam and collective political activism. The evidence also supports the resource mobilization thesis, among other factors, to explain the dynamics of collective action in the Arab world.

Social Science Quarterly (January 2016).

The Quota Encouraged Me to Run Evaluating Jordan’s Municipal Quota for Women
by Stefanie Nanes.


Gender quotas are a means to improve women’s political representation. This article examines the impact of Jordan’s municipal quota enacted in 2007. The quota drew into the political arena women who would otherwise not have run for office. Women councillors have firmly established their rightful presence on the local councils, a public realm previously deemed only for men. They successfully navigated the give-and-take of local Jordanian politics. In the process they gained a hard-won, invaluable political education and emerged as Jordan’s first sizable body of experienced women politicians on the local level. This article draws on extensive personal interviews with twenty-six female councillors from the first cohort of women elected under the quota. The results show that even a quota enacted in a clientelist system such as Jordan’s can bring positive change for women’s representation in politics.

Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 2015 Volume 11, Number 3: 261-282.

Six Bad Options for Syria by Daniel Byman from the Washington Quarterly, Volume 38, Issue 4, 2015. Daniel contributed to POMEPS Studies Political Science of Syria’s War and has written for the Monkey Cage.

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