Understanding the New Middle East

Aslı Bâli
School of Law
UC Los Angeles

James R. Gelvin
Center for Near Eastern Studies
UC Los Angeles

This two-day symposium entitled “Understanding the New Middle East” was organized by the Center for Near Eastern Studies and faculty from the UCLA Departments of History, Sociology, Anthropology and Law. The symposium was organized around six panels that addressed recent changes that have occurred in the Middle East: (1) The Arab uprisings, Prospects after seven years; (2) Arts & Culture; (3) The Syrian crisis; (4) The Future of Political Islam; (5) Regional and International Competition in the New Middle East, and (6) Human Security in the New Middle East. Panelists included faculty experts from a variety of disciplines at UC campuses, other US universities, international think tanks and NGOs. Our keynote speaker was Moncef Marzouki, the first democratically-elected president of Tunisia (2011 to 2014), who is also a well-known human rights activist and public intellectual. The event formed a basis for interdisciplinary collaboration among UC faculty and external scholars that sheds light on the most pressing questions concerning the Middle East today, with broad public policy implications.