BEIRUT Conference: Social Justice in the Arab World Since 2010: Changing Conditions, Mobilizations, and Policies

Thu, Feb 2, 2017 (All day) to Fri, Feb 3, 2017 (All day)
American University of Beirut

poster of artistic rendering of a group of people celebrating with flags

A two day academic conference held in Beirut, Lebanon, Cosponsored by the American University of Beirut’s Issam Fares Institute for Public Policy and International Affairs and the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice.

Download conference booklet  – Follow live on Twitter #AUBPU

Video on YouTube

In this conference, we seek to assess social movement changes and emerging social justice policies, or the lack thereof, in the Arab world since 2010 – at both the national and local policy levels. We are particularly interested in examining local dynamics to learn about changes in people’s everyday living conditions since 2010, how people organize and mobilize to express their grievances and seek to promote policy changes, and whether any measurable or meaningful changes in state policies related to social justice demands have occurred. The conference brings together researchers from the region and abroad who can clarify developments in areas that include the evolution of social inequalities; organized and informal social and political protest movements; citizen grievances and social justice demands; new forms of organization and activism; roles of trade unions and professional associations; reform of state institutions; decentralization and the role of local authorities; changes in people’s living conditions since 2010.

Senior members of Princeton University’s Department of Politics will travel to the conference to speak, to teach and to learn as part of the collaborative initiative inspired and fostered by the generous efforts of Mrs. Mamdouha Bobst and the Bobst Foundation.

The first Keynote speech will be given by Stephen Macedo, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics, Princeton University, who will speak about some traditions of thinking about social justice and democracy, with a particular eye to the question of how we should think about local and diverse ways of creating a legitimate — morally and not only sociologically legitimate — and cooperative social order. Do leading Western models of constitutional democracy furnish standards for political legitimacy that apply globally? Do they provide guidance as to which social justice demands are morally most urgent? Do human rights furnish such guidance? How great is the danger that such models and traditions of thought might lead scholars or policy-makers to ignore diverse local traditions and conditions on the ground, producing more harm than good? The title of his speech is “Universal Human Rights and Social Justice vs. Diversity and Self-Determination: Can they be Reconciled?”

The second Keynote will be given by Amaney Jamal,  Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, Princeton University, who in her speech “Trump’s Presidency: Islamophobia and the Middle East” will address Islamophobia in light of the recent U.S. elections. The Trump presidency has raised anxieties world-wide. What does his election mean for stability and the future of democracy in the Middle East? Will authoritarianism become even more entrenched? What challenges and opportunities might arise under his leadership? And further what does his election mean for America’s Muslim community.


Thursday, February 2nd, 2017

9:00 – 9:30

Opening & Welcoming Remarks
Tarek Mitri, Director, Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut
Amaney Jamal, Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, Princeton University
Leila Kabalan, Program Coordinator, Social Justice and Development Policy in the Arab World, Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut

9:30 – 10:15

Universal Human Rights and Social Justice vs. Diversity and Self-Determination: Can they be Reconciled? 
Stephen Macedo, Laurance S. Rockefeller Professor of Politics, Princeton University

10:15 – 10:30

Coffee Break

10:30 – 12:30

Trends, Constraints, and Grievances in the Arab Region 
Moderator: Nasser Yassin, Director of Research, Issam Fares Institute, American University of BeirutPopular Grievances in the Arab Region: Evaluating Explanations for Discontent in the Lead-up to the Uprisings
Nisreen Salti, Associate Professor of Economics, American University of Beirut 
Melanie Cammett, Professor of Government, Harvard University Economic Growth, Youth Unemployment, and Political and Social Instability: A Study of Policies and Outcomes in Post-Arab Spring Jordan, Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia, 1990-2013
Heath Prince, Research Scientist, University of Texas, Austi
Amna Khan, Deputy Project Director for the Center for Advanced Studies in Energy, Islamabad, Pakistan 
Yara Halasa, Heller School for Social Policy and Management, Brandeis UniversityYouth-Focused Active Labor Market Programs in a Constraining Welfare Regime: A Qualitative Reading of Programs in Egypt
Ghada Barsoum, Assistant Professor, American University in Cairo The Rule of Law in the Arab Gulf: Vectors of Social Change and Consolidation
David Mednicoff, Director of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts, Amherst

12:30 – 13:30

Lunch Break

13:30 – 15:30

Polls, Data, and Changing Attitudes from the Arab Region
Moderator: Charles Harb, Professor of Social Psychology, American University of Beirut Why do Jordanians Prefer Shia over Sunni Refugees? A Conjoint Experiment on Sectarian Bias among Ordinary Citizens
Michael Robbins, Project Director, Arab Barometer Religion, Trust, and Other Determinants of Muslim Attitudes toward Gender Equality: Evidence and Insights from 54 Surveys in the Middle East and North Africa
Mark Tessler, Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor, University of Michigan
Hafsa Tout, Research Assistant, University of MichiganReligious Identities, Measurement, and Attitudes toward Regime Type in the Arab World
Sabri Ciftci, Associate Professor, Kansas State University
F. Michael Wuthrich, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Kansas 
Ammar Shamaileh, Assistant Professor, University of Louisville Citizens and Security Threats in the Middle East: Perceptions and Consequences
Ishac Diwan, Chaire Socio-économie du Monde Arabe, Paris Sciences et Lettres, France
Irina Vartanova,Saint Petersburg Higher School of Economics, Russia

15:30 – 16:00

Coffee Break

16:00 – 17:30Parallel Sessions

Session A – Conference room (4th floor)


Tunisia Today: Politics, Protests, and Partisans 
Moderator: Rania Masri, Associate Director, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, American University of Beirut

The Political Behavior of Economic “Outsiders”: Informal Labor, Unemployed Graduates, and the Roots of Social Discontent
Helen Milner, Professor of Politics and International Relations, Princeton University 
Amaney Jamal, Professor of Politics, Princeton University
Chantal Berman, PhD Candidate, Princeton University

University Graduates and Inhabitants of Marginalized Regions: Explaining the Weakness of Unemployed Activism in Tunisia
Samiha Hamdi, PhD Candidate, University of Languages and Human Sciences of Sfax, Tunisia
Irene Weipert-Fenner, Research Fellow, Peace Research Institute Frankfurt, Germany

Session B – Auditorium


Expectations and Disappointments in Post-Uprisings Arab World 
Moderator: Rim Saab, Assistant Professor of Psychology, American University of Beirut

A Case for Chaos; Thresholds of Violence and Meaning in Egypt after 2011
Habiba Al Awady, University Fellow and Researcher, Anthropology Department, American University in Cairo

Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow: Social Justice and the Rise of Dystopian Art and Literature Post-Arab Spring
Sarah Marusek, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, University of Johannesburg, South Africa

The Politics of Hope and Disappointment in Post-Uprising Egypt
Nermin Allam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Princeton University

17:30 – 18:30

Trump’s Presidency: Islamophobia and the Middle East 
Amaney Jamal, Director of the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace and Justice, and Edwards S. Sanford Professor of Politics, Princeton University


Friday, February 3rd, 2017

9:00 – 9:45

The Role of Universities in Achieving Social Justice 
Fadlo R. Khuri, President, American University of Beirut

9:45 – 10:00

Coffee Break

10:00 – 11:45

Gender Activism: Case Studies from the Region 
Moderator: Leila Kabalan, Program Coordinator, Social Justice and Development Policy in the Arab World, Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut Queer Politics and Social Justice in Palestine
Sa’ed Atshan, Assistant Professor of Peace and Conflict Studies, Swarthmore College Resilience, LGBT, and Space: Tunisian and Lebanese Youth Activists’ Rights and Struggles
Arnaud Kurze, Assistant Professor, Montclair State University Participation in Political Protests and Young People’s Views on Gender Equality in Egypt
Rania Roushdy, Senior Program Manager, Poverty, Gender and Youth Program, Population Council 
Maia Sieverding, Assistant Professor of Public Health Practice, American University of Beirut Public Spaces and Women in Egypt: Contemplating between Constitutions
Magda Shahin, Director of Prince Alwaleed Center for American Studies and Research, American University in Cairo
Yasmeen Ghazaly, Research Assistant, American University in Cairo

11:45 – 13:00

Lunch Break

13:00 – 15:00

Institutional, Political, and Social Changes in Post-Revolution Egypt 
Moderator: Dina El-Khawaga, Director, Asfari Institute for Civil Society and Citizenship, American University of Beirut 

Does Egypt Want Change? Implicit Attitudes Towards an Authoritarian Regime
Daniel Tavana, PhD Candidate, Princeton University 
Rory Truex, Assistant Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Princeton University Institutional Reform in Post-Revolutionary Egypt
Mustapha El Sayyid, Affiliate Professor, American University in CairoPolicy Change and Popular Mobilization for Equitable Basic Education in Egypt
Hania Sobhy, Academic Coordinator, Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities (BBAW), Germany
Peasants’ Mobilizations in Egypt. From Direct Action to Unionization: The Role of NGOs, Solidarity Activists and Intellectuals in Rural Struggles, 2010-2015
Francesco Des Lellis, PhD Candidate, Universita L’Orientale, Naples, Italy

15:00 – 15:30

Coffee Break

15:30 – 17:30Parallel Sessions

Session A – Conference room (4th floor)


Social and Political Mobilizations in Yemen and Algeria
Moderator: Sarah El Jamal, Research Assistant, Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut

The Role of Social Movements in Achieving Social Justice in Yemen
Faisal Mahboub, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Sciences, Tunis El Manar University, Tunisia

Social Protection Mechanisms in Yemen
Rasha Jarhum, Senior Development Policy Advisor and Social Researcher

The Political Engagement of the Algerian Youth
Mustapha Omrane,Researcher, Centre de recherche en économie appliquée pour le développement, Algeria

“Mahgourin Fi Bled El Bitrol”: Mobilizing for Social Justice in South Algeria
Naoual Belakhdar, Research Associate, Freie Universität Berlin, Germany

Session B – Auditorium


Grassroots Mobilizations and Political Ideologies in Lebanon and Iraq
Moderator: Rayan El-Amine, Assistant Director, Issam Fares Institute, American University of Beirut

The Lebanese Power Structure and its Impact on the Effectiveness of Grassroots Mobilizations: Lessons from the Labor Movement
Rossana Tufaro, PhD Candidate, Università Cà Foscari, Venice, Italy

Access to Justice in a Displaced Community: The Case of a Palestinian Refugee Camp in Southern Lebanon
Jaber Sleiman,Policy Adviser

Lebanese Ideology as a Driver of Sectarianism
Barea Sinno, PhD Candidate, The University of Texas at Austin

The Sadrist Trend and the Development of Iraqi Civil Society
Doyle Damian, PhD Candidate, Australian National University, Australia

17:30 – 18:30

Closing Roundtable