Wilson Center Experts
Nathan J Brown
I am a specialist in comparative politics with a special interest in the Arab world. My work in recent years has focused on patterns of governance in the Arab world-the persistence of authoritarianism, the prospects for political liberalization and democratization, and the role of constitutions and legal institutions in politics. I am now branching out from those interests to look not simply at state institutions but also at Islamist social movements that aim to engage in (and even transform) the social andpolitical environments where they operate. Most of my research in the past has been conducted in Egypt, Palestine, and Kuwait and I anticipate that I will continue to draw on the contacts and experience I have built up in those places.While most of my interests are phrased primarily in academic terms, I recently served two years in residence at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, where I tried to frame my research in a way that would speak to policy debates. Specifically I focused on issues including the Iraqi constitutional process, political reform in the Arab world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the role of Islamist political parties. While at the Woodrow Wilson Center, I hope to be able to maintain a dimension in my work that speaks to broader public and policy concerns.
A.B., University of Chicago; M.A., Politics, Princeton University; Ph.D., Politics and Near Eastern Studies, Princeton University
Director, Institute for Middle East Studies and Middle East Studies Program, George Washington University; Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, George Washington University; Associate Dean, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University; Senior Associate, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
Middle East, Islam, and Politics
Why do Islamist social movements in the Arab world form political parties and what do they hope to achieve from them? When do they eschew or de-emphasize politics in favor of other activities? Much of the recent work on Islamist politics has focused on their effect on the democratic politics—but no democracy has yet been established in the Arab world. I seek to understand the politics of Islamist movements in a way that sheds light not only on their own structures but also on the semi-authoritarian politics more broadly.
- Palestinian Politics after the Oslo Accords, University of California Press, 2003
- Constitutions in a Nonconstitutional World: Arab Basic Laws and the Prospects for Accountable Government, SUNY Press, 2001
- The Rule of Law in the Arab World, Cambridge University Press, 1997