Collection Spotlight: Contentious Politics in the Middle East

By Andrew Trexler | Intern, - Middle East Institute (MEI) - Washington DC | Oct 4, 2013

Contentious Politics in the Middle East: Political Opposition under Authoritarianism edited by Holger Albrecht, 2010

            Published on the eve of the “Arab Spring,” Contentious Politics in the Middle East undertakes a rigorous academic study of the political environment of the Middle East and North Africa. The collection of essays addresses political situations (circa 2010) in Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Kuwait, Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco, and Tunisia, with additional commentary on other states in the Arab world. In so doing, Contentious Politics comparatively engages with the complex relationships between opposition political forces and governing authoritarian political structures throughout the region. In particular, the work examines the role of Islamist political movements and democratization forces, opposition movements operating both within and outside their parent regimes, and the survival methodologies of authoritarian regimes. The text is divided into four primary sections: conceptual underpinnings; an examination of civil society opposition politics; an analysis of Islamist opposition forces; and a look at the structural machinations of the authoritarian regimes.

For Scholars

            Given its year of publication, this work provides an excellent review of academic thought on the political workings, possibilities, and future of the Middle East on the doorstep of the Arab uprisings. The text is riddled with suppositions that now, just three years later, seem anachronistic. Whether examining comparative politics of the modern Middle East, the intricacies of authoritarianism, or the social origins of the Arab Spring, researchers would benefit greatly from the breadth and depth of Contentious Politics’ essays.

 Primary Research Applications


  • Comparative politics of the Middle East
  • The Arab Spring
  • Opposition forces in Middle East regimes
  • Authoritarianism in the Middle East
  • Islamist politics and movements
  • Political science theory
  • Global perceptions of the Middle East

Further reading in the Oman Library (among other texts):


  • The Arab Awakening: America and the Transformation of the Middle East, by Kenneth Pollack and Daniel Byman et al., 2011
  • Arab Voices: What They Are Saying to Us and Why It Matters, by James Zogby, 2010
  • Resistance: The Essence of the Islamist Revolution, by Alastair Crooke, 2009
  • Debating Arab Authoritarianism: Dynamics and Durability in Nondemocratic Regimes, by Oliver Schlumberger, 2008
  • Authoritarianism in an Age of Democratization, by Jason Brownlee, 2007
  • Islamism: A Documentary and Reference Guide, by John Calvert, 2007
  • Being Modern in the Middle East: Revolution, Nationalism, Colonialism, and the Arab Middle Class, by Keith Watenpaugh, 2006
  • Extremism and Opposition Movements on the Arabian Peninsula, by Joseph Kechichian, 2006
  • Authoritarianism in the Middle East: Regimes and Resistance, by Marsha Pripstein Posusney and Michele Penner Angrist, 2005
  • Islamic Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict, by Sohail Hashmi, 2002
  • Civil Society and the Oppressive State in the Arab World, by Jacqueline Ismael and Tareq Ismael, 2001
  • Islam and Democracy: Jordan and the Muslim Brotherhood, by Azzam Tamimi, 2000