desertDeciphering Civil Conflict in the Middle East (NSCC/SA-0904731) Middle East

This research advances a new conceptual framework for understanding civil conflict by focusing on the effects of transnational processes. It investigates how processes associated with economic rentierism, international migration, and far-reaching social networks shaped the development of civil protest and terrorism in the Middle East following the 1990-91 Gulf War. Because the Middle East is a strategic region with a significant share of the world’s energy reserves and stands at the crossroads of the world, it is important to understand the nature of Middle East conflicts and the possibilities for their resolution. Conflict in the Middle East represents a central challenge to 21st century international security. Understanding cross-national processes requires interdisciplinary conceptual and methodological expertise. This project brings together a team including scholars from sociology, geography, and economics, all with international expertise and experience. It aims to: (1) develop transformative conceptual tools for understanding patterns of migration, forms of economic rentier dependency, and social networks of organized groups; (2) expand the use of existing methodologies beyond their disciplinary boundaries in order to solve cross-disciplinary problems by generating and integrating multiple types of social science data; and (3) introduce and train professionals and students in the use of the methodologies and databases through symposiums, workshops, and professional presentations that utilize verbal and visual techniques. This research informs scholarly and policy-related understanding of the transnational, transformational processes in the Middle East that were relevant to civil conflict during the 1990s and remain important today. It serves to influence the interdisciplinary community of researchers, educators and future scholars concerned with the early warning of civil conflict. In addition to policy insights, this research is creating visual products (e.g. the geo-spatial presentations of Palestinian migrations and the growth of transnational networks) that will be useful to educators, students and policy makers interested in the changing international order and factors that influence international security.