Continuing its longstanding investment in scholarly research, Carnegie Corporation of New York established the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program in 2015 to provide a major boost to the social sciences and humanities. Each year, the Corporation provides more than 30 of the country’s most creative thinkers with grants of up to $200,000 each to support research on challenges to democracy and international order.
Marc Lynch is a professor of political science and international affairs at The George Washington University, and the former director of GW’s Institute for Middle East Studies. He received his B.A. in Political Science from Duke University and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Government from Cornell University. Lynch is the director of the Project on Middle East Political Science, a contributing editor for The Washington Post’s Monkey Cage political science page, editor of the Columbia University Press series Columbia Studies on Middle East Politics, a member of the APSA Council, and a nonresident senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
How has the Carnegie Fellows Program impacted your research and overall career?
Lynch: It’s a tremendous honor and opportunity to receive this fellowship. For years I have been working on building institutions to support the broad community of political scientists studying the Middle East, including the Institute for Middle East Studies at George Washington University and the Project on Middle East Political Science. The Andrew Carnegie Fellowship will give me the time and resources over the next two years to focus on researching and writing a new book of my own. The book will focus on the long term effects of the violence and failed democratization after the Arab uprisings of 2011 on Arab political culture and identity. I hope to put the last half-decade into comparative perspective, looking both historically and across regions in order to offer perspective on the kinds of politics which may emerge out of the tumult of these past years.
What topics in research do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?
Lynch: My research focuses broadly on the politics of the Arab world, with a particular focus on political communications and the media. I have written and edited three books about the Arab uprisings, and several books about different aspects of the Arab public sphere; the most recent, The New Arab Wars: Uprising and Anarchy in the Middle East, was just published this spring. I’ve also written a lot on US policy in the Middle East, Islamist movements, democratization, sectarianism and other critical issues in regional politics. I’ve been fortunate to have fairly wide dissemination for my research. In addition to the books and academic articles, I have been heavily involved in social media and the emergent online publics for political science. I was an early blogger (“Abu Aardvark”), launched the Middle East Channel and wrote a column for Foreign Policy magazine, and have for the last year and a half been a contributing editor to the Monkey Cage blog on the Washington Post.
What would be one piece of advice you would give aspiring social science and humanities students?
Lynch: I would urge young political scientists to write about things they really care about and to be willing to engage on those topics with broad publics. I believe that public engagement should be a core value of scholarship, and that it has increasingly become an integral part of our scholarly practice. Being active on Twitter or writing Monkey Cage posts don’t substitute for rigorous scholarship, of course — but they should be an integral part of how that scholarship is disseminated to a wider audience. Along the way, I would urge them to model scholarly norms for a broader public: stay away from the personal bickering, partisanship and feeding echo chambers which social media encourages, and instead focus on using relevant evidence, argumentation and scholarly findings to inform rational public discourse.
Read more here about Marc Lynch’s work.