The Arab Revolution in Context

Socio-Political Implications for the Middle East and Beyond

Friday 3 June 2011


The Arab Revolution in Context: Socio-Political Implications for the Middle East and Beyond, brought together many of Australia's leading experts in the field of Middle East Studies to address recent events in the region.

Late 2010 and early 2011 have seen a series of dramatic and unprecedented events sweep across the Middle East. In Tunisia and Egypt weeks of mass protests and civil unrest led to the ousting of long serving dictators such as Ben Ali and Mubarak. In Libya, Colonel Gaddafi used his entire arsenal in an attempt to quash the resistance, sparking a brutal civil war and Western military intervention. Meanwhile, citizens across the region continued to stage (mostly) peaceful protests that were met with a mixture of brutal suppression and modest political and economic reforms.

This complex set of events pose a number of critical questions that needed urgent and in-depth scholarly attention. Indeed, the Arab Revolutions served as a unique opportunity to reflect on many of the core issues facing the region and to challenge conventional wisdom concerning democracy in the Middle East, the efficacy of military intervention, and the implications of both for the region and beyond. This Forum discussed the unfolding events in the Arab world by situating them within a larger conceptual and socio-political framework.

Download the conference program


  • Associate Professor Richard Pennell (Melbourne University)
  • Dr Gennaro Gervasio (Macquarie University)
  • Dr Halim Rane (Griffith University)
  • Dr Sally Totman (Deakin University)
  • Dr Matthew Gray (Australian National University)
  • Dr Sarah Phillips (University of Sydney)
  • Dr Anthony Bubalo (Lowy Institute)
  • Dr Benjamin MacQueen (Monash University)
  • Dr Leanne Piggott (University of Sydney)
  • Dr Luca Anceschi (La Trobe University)



Organizing committee
Dr Benjamin Isakhan
Research Fellow - Centre for Citizenship and Globalization 
Dr Benjamin Isakhan is Research Fellow at the Centre for Comparative Social Research, part of the Faculty of Arts and Education at Deakin University, Australia. Previously, Ben has been a Research Fellow with the Centre for Dialogue at La Trobe University and a Research Fellow and Lecturer for the Griffith Islamic Research Unit, part of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Australia. Ben holds a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Psychology (1997), First Class Honours in Literature and Cultural Studies (1998), and a PhD in Middle East Studies (2009).
In 2009, Ben was awarded his PhD for a thesis entitled Discourses of Democracy: 'Oriental Despotism' and the Democratisation of Iraq which received high appraisal from the international and national assessors.This work is currently being re-worked into a book tentatively titled Democracy in Iraq: History, Politics and Discourse (Ashgate, 2011). Ben is also the co-editor of The Secret History of Democracy (Palgrave Macmillan, 2011) and The Edinburgh Companion to the History of Democracy (Edinburgh University Press, 2012), both with Professor Stephen Stockwell. In addition, Ben has authored several publications including book chapters in Islam and the Australian News Media (Melbourne University Press, 2010).
Professor Fethi Mansouri
Chair in Migration and Intercultural Research; Director, Centre for Citizenship and Globalisation &
Co-Director, Strategic Research Centre for Comparative Social Research
Professor Fethi Mansouri is a leading researcher in the University and a prominent scholar nationally and internationally. He is the principal supervisor of many PhD A candidates in Middle Eastern studies, migration research and inter-cultural studies.
Professor Mansouri has published twelve books, nine major research monographs, more than fifty refereed research articles and book chapters, and many book reviews and media pieces. He has presented more than 100 invited conference and seminar papers and many other invited presentations at national and international symposia.
Over the last ten years, Professor Mansouri has been awarded more than 30 research grants from a number of funding bodies including the Australian Research Council in 2009-12 on 'Social Networks, Belonging and Active Citizenship among Migrant Youth in Australia'; 2007-10 on 'Local governance and multicultural policies'; 2004-07 on 'Cultural diversity in education'; and in 2002-04 for a project on 'Australia's Asylum Policies'. Professor Mansouri received funding from the state government and a number of philanthropic foundations to conduct research into cultural diversity in education and within local governance.
Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh 
Professor Akbarzadeh joined Melbourne University in January 2008 as Deputy Director of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies. He has an active research interest in the politics of Central Asia, Islam, Muslims in Australia and the Middle East. He has been involved in organising a number of key conferences, including a Chatham House rule workshop on Australia's relations with Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan (2007), sponsored by the International Centre of Excellence for Asia Pacific Studies.
In 2000 Professor Akbarzadeh was the Middle East Studies conference co-convener and served as the Central and West Asia Councillor for the Asian Studies Association of Australia (1999-2004). He has promoted Asian studies through contacts with industry and the academia by research and publication. He guest edited a special issue of Asian Studies Review on the Middle East (Vol.25, No.2, 2001) and a special issue of the Journal of Arabic, Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies on Globalization (Vol. 5, No.2, 2000). He is a member of the Editorial Board of two leading refereed journals: Global Change, Peace & Security, and the Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs. Picture by Drew Pettifer.


Dr Benjamin Isakhan
Research Fellow
Centre for Citizenship and Globalization 
Strategic Research Centre for Comparative Social Research
School of International and Political Studies
Faculty of Arts and Education
Deakin University, Melbourne Burwood Campus
Vic 3125, Australia
Phone: +61 (0)3 924 43934

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