This volume is the product of a conference Change and Stability. State,Politics and Religion in the Middle East and North Africa. Conference took place from 28–29 May 2009 in Krakow, Poland, and was organized by The Middle and Far East Studies Department of Jagiellonian University in Krakow. The primary objective of the conference was to describe and analyze interactions between institutions of a modern state and traditional structures and values. Phenomena like state-society relations, collective identities cultures came under scrutiny of the conference participants. Researchers in political science, international relations, legal studies, law, area studies, media studies and human rights studies and other disciplines of social science debated over change and stability on contemporary Middle East. This forum was intended to gather specialists from academic communities from many countries to conduct dialogue and exchange ideas. The editor hopes, that event and publication like this one will contribute significantly to a cooperation and mutual trust among the Middle East and North Africa nations, as well as to development, stability and prosperity in this region. Most contributors have agreed, that we have witnessed many important changes in the political, cultural and religious environment of the Middle Eastern societies. The countries of this region constantly captures worldwide attention with their pursuit of peace, their oil resources and their interesting stages of interactions between institutions of modern states and traditional structures. In response to the objective needs of globalization and regional integration, the countries of the Middle East and North Africa have been constantly exploring new avenues for variety of political aspects such as pluralizing political systems, discourse of democracy, secularization, liberalization as well as durability of authoritarian regimes, depolitization of large social sectors, and mobilizing aspects of political Islam.
Facts have confirmed that cooperation between this region and Europe, the whole Asia and America, serves interests of various countries and brings benefits to peoples in the all world. It provides a strong guarantee and impetus for sustained stability, development and prosperity in this region. It also inflicts profound changes in regional political, economic and security environments. Finally, recapitulating vivid discussions during two days of the conference, editor would like to offer some normative remarks on the conditions of the region.
Firstly, seeking common ground while preserving differences. Geographical proximity and cultural similarity in the Middle East and North Africa are the assets for our studies. On the other hand, the countries of this region have different national conditions, and each of them has chosen different developmental paths that fit in well with their particularities. Therefore, it would be wrong to treat the region as a homogenous one. Yet some examinations of different case studies may provide interesting insights.
Secondly, highlighting priorities in the processes of change. Among the multitude of regional and sub-regional political, social and cultural mechanisms it seems to be necessary to keep human rights as the one of the main points of reference in the channels. Business scientific and cultural cooperation should constantly consolidate the fundaments of international law, gradually enhancing politics and security of dialogue.
Thirdly, building consensus and moving forward in a gradual manner. This region bears upon the interests of many countries and concerns of various parties. Researchers try to identify individual actors and their interactions. We continue to summarize experience, enhance communication, maximize common interests, and look for ideas, ways and modes of cooperation acceptable to all countries of the Middle East and North Africa.
Fourthly, staying open. At the time of rapid economic globalization and intensive cultural interaction, no country or region can achieve development in isolation. Nowadays the international cooperation demands an open manner, new coordination with regional, sub-regional and inter-regional cooperation mechanisms. The imperative of preserving openness draws our attention to the question of communication. Enhancing communication, increasing circulation of opinions and ideas are the basic conditions for sincere dialogue. I hope that projects, like our publication, are small steps to achieve this aim. With this researches, we present the new suggestions and prospects for reform and development in the Middle East and North Africa.
Table of contents:
I. Nationalism and identity
- Joanna Bocheńska: Continuity and change. Kurdish contemporary literature and its quests for identity.
- Dario Cristiani: The Geopolitics of Identities in the Middle East. Networks of Loyalties and States' Strategies.
- Fouad Touzani: Al-Jazeera: The New Emblem of Arab Nationalism.
- Irina Kudryashova: State-Building in the Arab Middle East: from Ummah to a Nation?
- Magdalena Pycińska: The Palestinian Curriculum. Its impact on the understanding of the national identity and the myth of incitement in Palestinian textbooks.
- Bartosz Wróblewski: Are Jordanians a Nation?
- Krzysztof Kościelniak: Changes of the Coptic identity.
II. Islamic thought
- Angelika Hartmann: Caliphate and Rulership Between Pragmatic Politics and Dogmatic Sources of "the True Islam".
- Hassan Jamsheer: Theoretical Sources of Contemporary Islamic Radicalism.
III. Regligious discourses
- Rob Imre, Jim Jose: Globalising Syncretism and the Governance State: Beyond Bipolar Thinking on Religious and Political Violence.
- Anna Paluszek: A Muslim means a "good citizen" according to the theory of Tariq Ramadan.
- Dorota Rudnicka-Kassem: We travel on the same boat: The Role of John Paul II in the Development of Christian-Muslim Dialogue.
- Abdulrahman Al-Salimi: Orientalism and Relationships between Islam and West.
IV. International relations
- Aysegul Sever: Re-orientation of Turkish-Syrian Relations and Its Security Implications for the Middle East: A Turkish Account.
- Radosław Bania: EU-GCC Relations: Uneasy Dialogue.
- Wojciech Grabowski: Shia-Wahhabi confrontation in the Middle East.
- Joanna M. Guzik: Japan's Assistance to Palestine 2000–2008.
- Rafał Ożarowski: Geostrategic factor of Iran's political aspirations.