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July 2022 Monthly Digest

The Monthly Digest is a resource provided by Security in Context that provides a list of recent publications, calls, conferences and other items relevant to the critical global, security, and international political economy studies audience. In addition to new items, our digest may contain relatively recent entries, so please double check dates on any calls or conferences. All descriptions taken from their original sources unless otherwise indicated. If we’ve missed something, or you have items you’d like to contribute for future digests, please email us at: admin@securityincontext.com

Books

The Political Science of the Middle East: Theory and Research Since the Arab Uprisings

Marc Lynch, Jillian Schwedler, and Sean Yom

A definitive overview of what political scientists are working on within the Middle East and North Africa.

The Arab Uprisings of 2011-12 catalyzed a new wave of rigorous, deeply informed research on the politics of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In The Political Science of the Middle East, Marc Lynch, Jillian Schwedler, and Sean Yom present the definitive overview of this pathbreaking turn. This is a monumental stocktaking organized around a singular theme: new theorizing from the MENA has advanced the frontiers of comparative politics and international relations, and the close-range study of the region occupies a core place in mainstream political science. Its dozen chapters cover an exhaustive array of topics, including authoritarianism and democracy, contentious politics, regional security, military institutions, conflict and violence, the political economy of development, Islamist movements, identity and sectarianism, public opinion, migration, and local politics. For each of these topics, leading MENA experts and specialists highlight innovative concepts, vibrant debates, diverse methodologies, and unexpected findings. The result is an indispensable research primer, one that stands as a generational statement from a regional subfield.

Concrete Utopianism: The Politics of Temporality and Solidarity

By Gary Wilder

Concrete Utopianism makes a bold case for embracing what Wilder calls a politics of the possible-impossible. Attentive to the non-identical character of places, periods, and subjects, insisting that axes of political alignment and contestation are neither self-evident nor unchanging, reworking Lenin’s call to “transform the imperial war into a civil war,” he invites Left thinkers see beyond inherited distinctions between here and there, now and then, us and them. Guided by the spirit of Marx’s call for revolutionaries to draw their poetry from a future they cannot fathom yet must nevertheless invent, he calls for practices of anticipation that envision and enact, call for and call forth, seemingly impossible ways of being together. He elaborates a critical orientation that emphasizes the dialectical relations between aesthetics and politics, political imagination and transformative practice, concrete interventions and revolutionary restructuring, past dreams and possible worlds, means of struggle and its ultimate aims. This orientation requires nonrealist epistemologies that do not mistake immediate appearances with the really real. Such epistemologies would allow critics to recognize uncanny and untimely aspects of social life, whether oppressive or potentially emancipatory. They may help actors to render the world subversively uncanny and untimely. They may clear pathways for the kind of critical internationalism and concrete utopianism that Left politics cannot afford to ignore.

These Ragged Edges: Histories of Violence along the U.S.-Mexico Border

Edited by Andrew J. Torget, Gerardo Gurza-Lavalle

he U.S.-Mexico border has earned an enduring reputation as a site of violence. During the past twenty years in particular, the drug wars—fueled by the international movement of narcotics and vast sums of money—have burned an abiding image of the border as a place of endemic danger into the consciousness of both countries. By the media, popular culture, and politicians, mayhem and brutality are often portrayed as the unavoidable birthright of this transnational space. Through multiple perspectives from both sides of the border, the collected essays in These Ragged Edges directly challenge that idea, arguing that rapidly changing conditions along the U.S.-Mexico border through the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries have powerfully shaped the ebb and flow of conflict within the region.  By diving deeply into diverse types of violence, contributors dissect the roots and consequences of border violence across numerous eras, offering a transnational analysis of how and why violence has affected the lives of so many inhabitants on both sides of the border.

Contributors include Alberto Barrera-Enderle, Alice Baumgartner, Lance R. Blyth, Timothy Bowman, Elaine Carey, William D. Carrigan, José Carlos Cisneros Guzmán, Alejandra Díaz de León, Miguel Ángel González-Quiroga, Santiago Ivan Guerra, Gerardo Gurza-Lavalle, Sonia Hernández, Alan Knight, José Gabriel Martínez-Serna, Brandon Morgan, and Joaquín Rivaya-Martínez, Andrew J. Torget, and Clive Webb.

Scholarships/Fellowships

Call for Applications: Arab Reform Initiative Non-Resident Fellows for 2022-2023

Deadline for Application: 5 September 2022

The Arab Reform Initiative (ARI) is a leading independent think tank that promotes a home-grown agenda for democratic change and social justice in Arab countries. ARI conducts policy analysis and innovative field research, combines scholarly work and advocacy, and acts as a policy platform for emerging voices from the region.

As part of its efforts to foster and build a community of engaged researchers, ARI is currently accepting applications for Non-Resident Fellowships. ARI’s Non-Resident Fellows will act as in-house experts and will play a key role in contributing to knowledge production and development of the research community of the organization.

Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Humanities, UPENN

The Wolf Humanities Center awards five (5) one-year Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowships each academic year to junior scholars in the humanities who are no more than five years out of their doctorate. Preference will be given to candidates not yet in tenure track positions whose proposals are interdisciplinary, who have not previously enjoyed use of the resources of the University of Pennsylvania, and who would particularly benefit from and contribute to Penn's intellectual life.

The programs of the Wolf Humanities Center are conceived through yearly topics that invite broad interdisciplinary collaboration. For the 2023–2024 academic year, our topic will be Revolution.

The Wolf Humanities Center is keen to support projects that contribute to the dismantling of all forms of racial, gender, and other discrimination as they exist within the humanities. We know that such efforts can take an infinite variety of forms, and we encourage you to include in the course of your application an explanation of how your scholarship contributes to this effort if it does.

The 2023–2024 Fellowship appointment is twelve months (July 1, 2023–June 30, 2024) and carries a stipend of $62,750 plus a $3000 research fund and single-coverage health insurance (fellows are responsible for coverage for any dependents). Fellows teach one undergraduate course in addition to conducting their research.

Journal Articles

Entangled observers? A quantum perspective on authority in critical security studies

Critical Studies on Security

Michael P. A. Murphy

The conventional author-driven summary of the Stern–Gerlach experiment omits the fact that their famous measurements only appeared when the smoke of a poor graduate student’s cheap cigar produced a reaction with the silver atoms. Indeed, this crucial experiment in the history of quantum physics would have been impossible if not for the fortuitous intersection of behavioural norms for white male elite – cigar smoking at the laboratory bench – and the material conditions of the junior scientist – a socioeconomic status that left him unable to afford higher-quality cigars. While the simplistic narrative of authorship may conveniently reduce this experiment to Stern and Gerlach, a quantum reading of this quantum experiment reveals the ontological entanglement of identity, materiality, social norms and the experimental apparatus itself with the authors – and, just with other entangled phenomena, our apparently simple description is woefully incomplete without acknowledging its entangled reality. Intervening into a decades-long debate on the nature of authorship, observation and rigour in critical security studies, I argue that the quantum model of ontologically entangled observation offers a powerful model for problematising authority in critical security studies .

Who is afraid of Tim O’Brien? The existential truth of just war theory

Critical Studies on Security

Cian O'Driscoll

Can war ever be justified? And what, if any, limits should bear on the waging of war? These questions are the stock-in-trade of scholars of just war theory. Hailing from a wide variety of academic disciplines, scholars of just war theory have historically been inclusive when it comes to the kinds of texts that they consider legitimate source-material. Legal treatises, biblical commentaries, political speeches, and military codeshave all been embraced, alongside academic writings on the ethics of war . It comes as some surprise, then, to observe the reticence that some just war theorists have displayed when invited to consider the novels of the Vietnam veteran and celebrated war writer Tim O’Brien as a body of work worthy of their analysis. Why, this article asks, are just war theorists so afraid of Tim O’Brien? And what does this tell us about the direction in which contemporary just war theory is moving? The article will argue that the reason just war theorists have been apprehensive about engaging O’Brien’s work is also the reason why they should read it. This alerts us, it concludes, to the case for (re-)envisioning just war theory in existentialist terms.

Job Openings

Smith College, Assistant Professor of Government- Two Positions

The Department of Government (GOV) at Smith College invites applications for two tenure-track positions: one in Political Theory and another in Comparative Politics and/or International Relations. Both positions are at the rank of Assistant Professor and will begin July 1, 2023.

By time of appointment each applicant must have a Ph.D. in Political Science or a closely related discipline (e.g. philosophy; public policy). Each position has a teaching load of 2:2—i.e., four semester-long courses over the academic year. The hires will also be expected to contribute to student learning beyond regular classes through directing student research and Honors Theses, offering independent studies, and helping with departmental administrative, curricular, and advising responsibilities.

Application Instructions

Submit applications at http://apply.interfolio.com/110549 with a cover letter describing your research and teaching interests, curriculum vitae, teaching statement, diversity/inclusion statement, chapter- or article-length writing sample, and the contact information for three confidential references. Finalists may be asked for additional materials. Review of applications will begin October 1, 2022. 

Podcasts

SiC Podcast Episode 5: The Russian War in Ukraine: Perspectives from the Global South

In this episode we investigate the Russian war in Ukraine from a global South perspective by analyzing the effects of the crisis on the different countries and regions of the global South, and highlighting the issues that are currently missing from the mainstream discussion.

Our guests include: Eric Draitser, independent political analyst and host of CounterPunch Radio; Samar Al-Bulushi, assistant professor of anthropology at University of California, Irvine; Noha Aboueldahab, assistant professor of international law and transitional justice at Georgetown University in Qatar; and Arlene Tickner, professor of international relations at the School of International, Political and Urban Studies, at the Universidad del Rosario Bogotá. At the end of the episode, Security in Context co-founders Omar Dahi and Firat Demir discuss the main highlights of the interviews and share their own takes.

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