Minorities and the Arab Revolutions
Thursday, April 25, 2013 - 7:00pm
Minorities and the Arab Revolutions

Lincoln Hall, room 75, 1620 SW Park Avenue
ree & open to the public
Limited seating; admission requires free tickets available through the Portland State Box Office


The political upheavals in the Arab republics since 2011 have shaken old political hierarchies and opened elections to once-banned groups such as leftists and the Muslim religious Right.  Because the secular, authoritarian republics sought support from minorities, these revolutions have put the latter in a difficult position.  Sometimes they are seen as pillars of the old regime and a force for counter-revolution.  Sometimes Sunni Muslim politicians see them as impediments to the repeal of what they see as a foreign-inspired secularism.  At the same time, the revolutionary governments across the board aspire to parliamentary forms of governance.  To be successful, the latter must give equal political rights to the minorities.  The Coptic Christians of Egypt, the Zaidi Shiites of Yemen, the Shiites of Bahrain, and the Christians and Alawi Shiites of Syria will all be considered.


Juan Cole is Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. For three decades, he has sought to put the relationship of the West and the Muslim world in historical context. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, March, 2009) and he also recently authored Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, 2007). As well as establishing a reputation as a highly influential scholar, Professor Cole has become an important public intellectual who reaches large audiences through his media work and his blog, Informed Comment. He has been a regular guest on PBS’s News Hour, and has also appeared on ABC World News, Nightline, Today, Charlie Rose, Anderson Cooper 360, Countdown with Keith Olbermann, The Rachel Maddow Show, The Colbert Report, Democracy NOW! and many others. He has given many radio and press interviews. He has written widely about Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and South Asia. He has commented extensively on al-Qaeda and the Taliban, the Iraq War, the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan, and Iranian domestic struggles and foreign affairs. He has a regular column at Truthdig. He continues to study and write about contemporary Islamic movements, whether mainstream or radical, whether Sunni and Salafi or Shi`ite. Cole commands Arabic, Persian and Urdu and reads some Turkish, knows both Middle Eastern and South Asian Islam. He lived in various parts of the Muslim world for nearly 10 years, and continues to travel widely there. A bibliography of his writings may be found here


The Portland State University Middle East Studies Center Lecture Series podcast features audio recordings from the series, including this event. Download the audio podcast of this lecture or subscribe to the podcase to receive future episodes by clicking here.

Other Resources

Renowned Middle East scholar speaks at PSU: Middle East Studies Center presents Juan Cole, PSU Vanguard, April 29, 2013


Presented as the Portland State University Middle East Studies Center's Minorities of the Modern Middle East workshop keynote address. Co-sponsored with the Portland State University Department of History, the Department of World Languages & Literatures, and the Portland Center for Public Humanities. Presented with funding from the Portland State University Speakers Board and the Internationalization Minigrant Program.

The Middle East Studies Center at Portland State University promotes understanding of the people, cultures, languages and religions of the Middle East. As a National Resource Center for Middle East Studies under the U.S. Department of Education’s Title VI program, the Center serves as a resource on issues pertaining to the Middle East through activities that reach students and scholars, as well as businesses, educators, and the media. The Middle East Studies Center supports academic conferences, workshops, cultural events, lectures, and a resource library | | 503-725-4074