On this week’s podcast, Jessie Moritz discusses her research on rentier states. Moritz is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Institute for the Transregional Study of the Contemporary Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa at Princeton University. She has conducted interviews with over 150 citizens of Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and Saudi Arabia, including members of royal families, ministers, elected and appointed representatives, development experts, entrepreneurs, prominent leaders in civil society, and youth activists involved in protests since 2011. Her current research focuses on the political economy of oil in the Arabian Peninsula, with a particular focus on post-2014 economic reform programs and their impact on state-society relations.
We have to understand that before we get to oil and gas and democratization, we have to understand oil and gas and lack of mobilization—whether that’s through the absence of taxation, cooptation, or the funding of a repressive apparatus. Whatever cause or mechanism we think is the most important, we have to understand the oil societal quiescence link first, and then we can move on to ‘will it overthrow an authoritarian regime?’ And then ‘will the outcome of that regime ever be democracy?’ There’s so many steps in that process.