Panel on revolutions in Middle East
Associate Professor of History John Turner and Bowdoin College Professor of Government Shelley Deane spoke on March 1 as part of the Interdisciplinary Middle East Panel. The panel highlighted recent revolutions taking place across the Middle East and also included historical background information.
Amnesty International and The Goldfarb Center for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement co-sponsored the panel. The idea initially came from two students, Mickey Bronstein ’11 and Harry Davis’ 11, who brought it to Turner and put the event together. Lisa Kaplan ’13 also worked with Bronstein and Davis through the Goldfarb Center to facilitate the event.
Turner focused on the historical background behind the revolutions and Deane followed up by discussing more current-day issues. “History does not repeat itself, but it does tend to have a similar rhythm,” Deane said.
Turner gave a detailed account of Egypt’s history and the political reasons behind the initial revolt there. He spoke of the British invasion and the impact it had on Egyptian nationalists and the country as a whole.
Deane discussed the necessity of a revision of the political architecture of the Middle East, going into detail about individual countries’ issues, such as the youth in Yemen’s drug economy and the small size of Jordan, because unfortunately in the Middle East, she said, “size matters.”
Both Deane and Turner agreed that the main issue in the Middle East now is the need for a redistribution of power and a reduction of the monopolies that exist today. Deane said that reform in the Middle East had to come from within, originating, for instance, from a larger organization like the Arab League.
While the Goldfarb Center exists to support student initiatives and address the intellectual interests of the campus as a whole, neither Bronstein ’11 nor Davis ’11 were impressed with the planning of the event. Bronstein ’11 said that the event, for the most part, “was not at all what Harry and I had envisioned.”
Even though the two seniors were unsatisfied with their input on the event, Davis ’11 was sure to agree, “the event went very well despite the controversy surrounding the planning process.”