Order From Ashes
Police Reform Is a Global Industry

Police Reform Is a Global Industry

May 16, 2022

For the last decade and more, popular outrage at police brutality has driven mass protests in both the Middle East and the West. Opposition to police excesses—from crackdowns on protests in Egypt and Iraq to the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020—has highlighted the need for change. 

In this episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes— anthropologist Hayal Akarsu and sociologist Alex Vitale argue that policing crises around the globe are connected; that is, they are all part of one broad crisis with different local permutations. These permutations may include repressive political policing, long-term corruption and ineffectiveness, everyday policing, or a combination of these, as well as economic factors such as increasing inequality. As awareness of the climate crisis deepens, the role of police in protecting corporate interests may become an increasingly prominent feature of the crisis of policing legitimacy. 

Police reform is, more than ever before, a global industry, which circulates experts, tools, standards, models, and training programs. As such, police reform is a key part of foreign policy initiatives, diplomacy efforts, and development programs. A transnational framework enables us to see these connections.

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Hayal Akarsu, assistant professor of anthropology, Utrecht University
  • Alex Vitale, professor of sociology, Brooklyn College and the CUNY Graduate Center
  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International
Who’s Afraid of Gender?

Who’s Afraid of Gender?

May 11, 2022

From Poland to the studios of Fox News, reactionaries have recast progressive ideas about gender as a militant “gender ideology” that threatens society and its values. These politicians and pundits stoke this and other “moral panics”—mass frenzies of fear about practices, ideas, or identities that supposedly threaten a country’s innocence or moral character. 

Moral panics are an increasingly prominent feature of the political landscape around the world, and they increasingly focus on gender. This episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes—draws on examples from Egypt, Poland, and elsewhere to show how leaders, media, and other actors cultivate, promote, and even invent these moral panics. These actors exploit moral panics to rapidly construct social coalitions that might not otherwise coalesce. And in case after case, moral panics are shown to be about power—more policing of the marginalized; stifling social and economic change that would cost the elite; fighting democratic reforms; and redirecting grievances toward scapegoats. 

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Lobna Darwish, gender and human rights officer, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights
  • Kate Korycki, assistant professor of gender, sexuality, and women’s studies, Western University Canada
  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International
Beyond Exceptionalism: On the “Middle East,” Gender, and Sexuality

Beyond Exceptionalism: On the “Middle East,” Gender, and Sexuality

May 9, 2022

Pundits, policymakers, and even academics often treat the Middle East as “exceptional”—a region of primordial violence and war, stuck in premodern social dynamics. But such conflict is not unique to the region—the United States and Europe have, of course, fought in multiple wars, though often not on their own soil. It is because of these assumptions that news coverage of the war in Ukraine is viewed with justifiable shock, but the media often treats violence in Iraq or Syria  as relatively unremarkable—the Middle East is supposed to be used to war. 

In this episode of Order from Ashes, the scholars Karma R. Chávez and Maya Mikdashi talk about moving beyond the common exceptionalizing frameworks that surround region, gender, and sexuality. They argue that, if straight and queer sexualities are analyzed together—rather than treated as if the condition of LGBTQ minorities is solely its own separate issue—observers can better understand how state and social power operate. Queer or marginalized genders and sexualities are policed or controlled, but so too are straight sexualities and all genders, in ways that are fundamental to how state power operates. The broader implication of their analysis: when we stop seeing the Middle East as exceptionally authoritarian, backward, and violent—and stop seeing the United States and Europe as particularly democratic and civilized—the transnational contours of war and power become clearer.

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants:

  • Karma R. Chávez, chair and associate professor in the Department of Mexican American and Latina/o Studies, University of Texas, Austin
  • Maya Mikdashi, assistant professor in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a lecturer in the program in Middle East Studies, Rutgers University
  • Naira Antoun, fellow, Century International
Are We Really in an Age of Militias?

Are We Really in an Age of Militias?

May 3, 2022

A cursory survey of contemporary media, policy, and academic landscapes suggests that we live in an age of militias, in which they are increasingly prevalent actors and a growing political challenge in armed conflicts. But are there really more militias now than ever before? Or is there just more attention given to them? 

In this episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes—scholar Jacob Mundy discusses what might be driving the “militiafication” of thinking about mass organized violence. The legacies of “new war” theories and the emerging global order—in which North Atlantic powers no longer call all the shots—are essential to understanding the alleged age of militias. 

While there are ways in which militias play an important role in constituting the global terrain of organized violence, this role does not appear to be proportionally larger in recent years than in previous decades. How can we explain, then, the disproportionate intellectual and policy weight given to militias? 

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Jacob Mundy, associate professor in peace and conflict studies, Colgate University
  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International
Gender, Religion, and Militias

Gender, Religion, and Militias

May 2, 2022

Discussions of self-styled Islamist armed groups, such as the Islamic State, tend to heavily focus on gender and religion. Yet these elements are almost always never considered in analyses of white supremacist groups. What accounts for this difference and why does it matter? In this episode of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship”—the new season of Order from Ashes—we speak with scholar Amanda Rogers about overlooked aspects of militias and nonstate armed groups in transnational perspective.

Common frameworks that emphasize violence do not have the tools to fully understand how these ideological movements function. Important elements that tend to be overlooked in such approaches include gender and religion.  

Rogers identifies other gaps in discussions of armed groups: Even though analyses of Islamist groups incldue gender, they usually treat women as peripheral. And wildly different groups—Hezbollah, the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Hamas—are treated as the same analytical unit simply because of their supposed connection to Islam. When it comes to white supremacist groups, however, religion is barely considered at all, even thought many o have an explicit religious ideology. 

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations.

Participants include:

  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International
  • Amanda Rogers, fellow, Century International 
A Global Perspective on the Crisis in Citizenship

A Global Perspective on the Crisis in Citizenship

April 25, 2022

A worldwide crisis in citizenship and rights has made it clear that no country’s struggle is entirely exceptional. Today’s episode of Order from Ashes kicks off a new season of the podcast: Transnational Trends in Citizenship.

Today, Naira Antoun, director of Century International’s Transnational Trends in Citizenship project, talks with Century International director Thanassis Cambanis about the connections between the crises in the Middle East, Western Europe, and North America.

For more than a year, Century International hosted discussions among experts who usually focus on their own regions—the Middle East or Western Europe and North America—and asked them to compare their regions and policy areas.

As a result of this exercise, the project’s teams of researchers, activists, and academics revealed commonalities and connections in their study of militias, gender and sexuality, police accountability, and protest. They also demonstrated how bringing experts on different regions together can test assumptions, create new knowledge, and inspire powerful new insights into old but persistent policy problems.

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Naira Antoun, director, Transnational Trends in Citizenship, Century International
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International
War in Ukraine, Pain in Syria

War in Ukraine, Pain in Syria

April 12, 2022

Even while Ukraine is experiencing tremendous suffering and dislocation since the Russian invasion, spillover effects are being felt all over the world. Syria is especially vulnerable, after ten years of war, with Russia as a major player in the Syrian conflict.

On this episode of Order from Ashes, Century International fellows Sam Heller and Aron Lund assess some of the most immediate humanitarian, diplomatic, and military consequences of the Ukraine war for Syria. 

Heller’s recent Century International report argues in some detail how humanitarian pressures and increased diplomatic tension are likely to exacerbate hunger and precarity for Syrians. In this podcast, he and Lund make the case that Syria is vulnerable in other ways to harmful spinoff effects of the war in Ukraine.

Participants include:

  • Sam Heller, fellow, Century International
  • Aron Lund, fellow, Century International 
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International
Making Lemonade from the Abraham Accords

Making Lemonade from the Abraham Accords

March 2, 2022

A year and a half ago, the historic Abraham Accords normalized relations between Israel and four Arab countries—but did little for stability or democracy in the region, much less for Israeli–Palestinian peace. On this episode of Order from Ashes, Century International fellow Dahlia Scheindlin assesses the possibility of salvaging progressive foreign policy goals from the problematic agreements. 

A progressive U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East should encourage Israeli–Palestinian peace, reduce militarization, support democracy, and strengthen the rules-based international order. So far, the Abraham Accords have mostly undermined these goals. In a new report for Century International, Scheindlin argues that diplomatic relations between Israel and Arab states can promote the core aims of progressive foreign policy in the Middle East—but it will take focused American leadership to turn the Abraham Accords around.

This podcast is part of “Transnational Trends in Citizenship: Authoritarianism and the Emerging Global Culture of Resistance,” a TCF project supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the Open Society Foundations. 

Participants include:

  • Dahlia Scheindlin, fellow, Century International
  • Thanassis Cambanis, director, Century International
Closing Syria’s Border to Aid

Closing Syria’s Border to Aid

July 2, 2021

Millions of Syrians depend on international aid that comes through a single border crossing—aid that depends on an agreement with Russia. Every year, and sometimes more frequently, the UN Security Council fiercely debates its tenuous agreement to keep open aid crossings into Syria. The number of open crossings has steadily diminished, and today, only a single access point remains, at Bab al-Hawa. This year, Russia has suggested it will no longer agree to let UN aid through this crossing after the current UN authorization expires on July 10.
On this episode of Order from Ashes, TCF fellows and Syria experts Aron Lund and Sam Heller discuss why aid is so important to the 4 million Syrians served by the border crossing, and why it’s been an uphill struggle for the United States and its allies to keep aid flowing to the parts of Syria that remain under rebel control.

Participants include:

  • Sam Heller, fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Aron Lund, fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation
Syrians Are Going Hungry

Syrians Are Going Hungry

June 7, 2021

Syria faces an unprecedented food security crisis. Almost 60 percent of the country is now food-insecure, and more than a million Syrians cannot survive without food aid. The crisis has many causes, chief among them the country’s economic collapse and the depreciation of its currency. But disruptions to key imports such as wheat and fuel have also harmed food security. Western sanctions have exacerbated these problems.

On this episode of Order from Ashes, Syria expert Sam Heller discusses the case that Western governments should do what they can to help, even though they have a limited ability to fix the crisis. Food security, Sam argues, should top Western policymakers’ Syria agenda, and inform their other Syria policy choices. 

Participants include:

  • Sam Heller, fellow, The Century Foundation
  • Thanassis Cambanis, senior fellow, The Century Foundation
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