This is an online launch for Simon Mabon's latest book Houses Built on Sand: Violence, Sectarianism and Revolution in the Middle East.
The events of the Arab Uprisings posed an existential challenge to sovereign power across the Middle East. Whilst popular movements resulted in the toppling of authoritarian rule in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen, other regimes were able to withstand these pressures. This book questions why some regimes fell whilst others were able to survive. Drawing on the work of political theorists such as Agamben and Arendt, Mabon explores the ways in which sovereign power is contested, resulting in the fragmentation of political projects across the region.
Combining an innovative theoretical approach with interviews with people across the region and beyond, Mabon paints a picture of Middle Eastern politics dominated by elites seeking to maintain power and wealth, seemingly at whatever cost. This, for Mabon, is a consequence of the emergence and development of particular visions of political projects that harness or marginalise identities, communities, ideologies and faiths as mechanisms designed to ensure their survival. This book is essential reading for those interested in understanding why the uprisings took place, their geopolitical consequences, and why they are likely to happen again.
The book is available to download for free here.
Simon Mabon is Senior Lecturer in International Relations at Lancaster University where he is also the Director of the Richardson Institute and the Director of the Sectarianism, Proxies and De-Sectarianization project (SEPAD). He is the author of a range of books and articles on the Middle East and international politics, including Houses Built on Sand: Violence, Sectarianism and Revolution in the Middle East (Manchester University Press, 2019), Saudi Arabia and Iran: Power and Rivalry in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2013), The Origins of ISIS: The Collapse of Order and Revolution in the Middle East (I.B. Tauris, 2017), and The Struggle For Supremacy: Saudi Arabia and Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2020). In 2016-7 he served as academic advisor to the House of Lords International Relations Committee.
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