International Affairs special issue - 'Contentious borders: the Middle East and North Africa post-2011'

Head of Department Louise Fawcett has co-edited the latest issue of International Affairs, the academic journal of the think tank Chatham House. ‘Contentious borders: the Middle East and North Africa post-2011’ is a multi-disciplinary examination of statehood and sovereignty in the MENA region. Alongside Raffaella A. Del Sarto (John Hopkins University) and Asli S. Okyay (European University), Louise has drawn together contributions from academic both outside and within the region, working on disciplines from geopolitics to ethnology.

Louise’s own contribution to the issue, titled ‘States and sovereignty in the Middle East: myths and realities’, examines the durability of the Middle East state system through the period of upheaval that followed the Arab uprisings of 2011. Interrogating claims that the region is undergoing a radical transformation, Louise argues that the nations and borders of the Middle East will most likely remain intact. While states are invariably fragile, and vulnerable to external and internal challenges to their sovereignty, the twin imperatives of border preservation and state survival should direct the priorities of governing elites for the foreseeable future.

The special issue also features an article by Leïla Vignal, a Marie Curie Fellow of Oxford’s Refugee Studies Centre. Drawing on her time living in Damascus, Vignal assesses the impact of the ongoing Syrian conflict on the country’s borders in an article titled ‘Changing borders and borderlands of Syria in a time of conflict’.

To launch the special issue, Louise will be participating in a panel discussion with Del Sarto and Vignal at Chatham House on 13 July. Audio from the event will be available online in the coming days.

For the next three months the entire issue is free to access via International Affairs’ publishing partner, Oxford University Press. Read the full issue here.

Professor Louise Fawcett is Head of Department, Professor of International Relations, Wilfrid Knapp Fellow and Tutor in Politics St Catherines College