Middle East & North Africa

Corruption and AKP, Istanbul

By Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

This post was also posted on Dr. İbikoğlu’s blog.

AKP’s acronym stands for Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, i.e. Justice and Development Party. For […]

March 6th, 2014|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa||

“Let’s use disproportionate intelligence!” Humor in the Turkish Protests, Istanbul

By Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

This post was also posted on Dr. İbikoğlu’s blog where he has been contextualizing the Turkish protests.

I have shared some protest graffiti […]

June 13th, 2013|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

People like you and me (#OccupyGezi #Taksim #DirenGeziParki), Istanbul

Emails from Arda İbikoğlu, M.A.I.S/Ph.D. alumnus.

Insight from Istanbul, Turkey.

The following emails from Dr. İbikoğlu were reproduced here with his permission. Please note that they were sent to a friend […]

June 3rd, 2013|Categories: Europe, Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

From Palestinian Entity to Statehood, Bethlehem

By Thayer Hastings, B.A. program alumnus.

Insight from Bethlehem, West Bank/State of Palestine.

On the evening of November 29th, 2012 the Bethlehem streets became increasingly raucous as we continued to watch through the United Nations General Assembly on the upgrade of Palestine’s status from non-member “entity” to non-member “state.” By the time of the third post-vote speech, we couldn’t handle it anymore and took to the streets by car in order to survey the action. Festive, but not overly-so – traffic filled the roads, horns honked, youth hung from the windows with the Palestinian flag or the iconic kuffiyeh flapping in the wind.

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December 6th, 2012|Categories: Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

Impressions of Iran’s Economic Woes, Tehran

By Shahed Ghoreishi, B.A. student.

Insight from Tehran, Iran.

In the news in the past months, scenes of currency riots in Iran have taken hold of international coverage. I visited Iran over the summer and was able to a limited degree witness some of the stress. In some regards, Iran’s economic woes are very real, as I would often hear complaints about skyrocketing food prices. In other regards, Iranians were doing better than when I last visited six years prior. Below, I have described what I had witnessed and a glimpse into the reality of Iranian life.

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November 26th, 2012|Categories: Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

Trust in the Islamic Republic, Tehran

By Shahed Ghoreishi, B.A. student.

Insight from Tehran, Iran.

This summer I traveled to Iran for the purpose of visiting family. It was a particularly amazing experience because it was my first time visiting since I was 15, allowing me to gain a mature perspective and perceive my surroundings with the context of my International Studies classes. I would like to focus on a misunderstood people rather than the commonly described political situation.

Culturally, Iranians are very hospitable. They invite you into their homes, offer endless amounts of food, and attempt to impress their guests. When I visited Iran this past summer, it was no different. Countless offers to visit family and stranger’s homes, constant practicing of Iranian taarof (the act of politely denying offers, which is followed by subsequent reoffering, which over an unnecessary period of time is eventually accepted), and acts of immense trust. No matter where we were in Iran or where we were shopping, the simple act of asking for a price was replied with ghabel nadareh, essentially meaning “for you, it’s free.” After a back and forth of taarof, the shopkeeper, waiter, and taxi driver, or whoever we were talking to, would eventually tell us the price.

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October 24th, 2012|Categories: Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , |

Navigation, Amman

By Lisa Lester, B.A. student.

Insight from Amman, Jordan.

I smiled hesitantly at the petite girl, her arm extended expectantly, offering me a piece of cherry gum. Only her eyes were visible behind voluminous folds of thin black cloth that shielded her entire form, from her toes to the top of her head. She even wore fitted black gloves. The girl had plopped down next to me at a coffee shop I sometimes worked at, despite the copious empty cushions surrounding me. It was hard to tell if she was smiling, but her sweet, musical voice seemed the epitome of cheerfulness.

In this moment I appreciated the special privilege afforded to Western women in the Middle East, basking in the glow Jordanian hospitality in public, unexpectedly, from a woman who would almost certainly never have addressed my male friends.  She barely spoke to me after, busily typing on her laptop, frequently interrupted by her constantly ringing cellphone, blasting Rihanna’s latest single.

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September 5th, 2012|Categories: Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |

Sitting in the Betty White Café (that’s right!) in Tel Aviv

By Joel S. Migdal, Professor.

Insight from Tel Aviv, Israel.

Sitting in the Betty White Café (that’s right!) in Tel Aviv, I have come to the conclusion that Israel is a highly schizophrenic society.  I am a couple of blocks from the beach, where the evening sunsets over the Mediterranean are breathtaking.  And all around me people seem to be enjoying life to the fullest.  They sit in cafés and bars until all hours of the night, sometimes spilling out onto the street in the warm summer nights long after midnight.  The restaurants are full—and they are expensive.  Cultural events are packed.  World recession?  I don’t see it on the streets of downtown Tel Aviv.  At the old Tel Aviv port, now converted into a happening place of shops, shows, and bikinis, traffic jams to get in last until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning.  This is Barcelona on the shores of the eastern Mediterranean.

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July 18th, 2012|Categories: Middle East & North Africa|Tags: , , |