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Tuesday March 13, 2012

Largest-ever gathering of Middle East experts to explore revolution on first anniversary

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The University of Melbourne will host Australia's largest-ever gathering of international Middle East experts to discuss the first anniversary of last year's revolutionary wave of demonstrations and protests at a conference this weekend. 

The Middle East in Revolt: the First Anniversary International Conference will bring together key Australian and international scholars to foster high-level analysis and debate, and examine the prospects of democracy in the Middle East. 

University of Melbourne Middle East expert and conference convenor Professor Shahram Akbarzadeh said the implications of the Arab Spring and what took place were still poorly understood.

"The Arab revolution has been a momentous episode in a volatile region of the world. The implications of transition to democracy are far-reaching and affect global politics," he said.

"The events of 2011 represented a shift in our understanding of the Arab world.  

"This is the first time an Australian university has hosted such a large number of international experts on the Middle East."

Keynote speaker Professor George Joffé, Cambridge University, said advances in our understanding of global events required constant exchange of perceptions, ideas and analysis.

"It is the only way in which we overcome the influences of personal preference and distorted appreciation," he said. 

"Conferences like this are the most immediate way in which ideas can be considered and challenged - that is why they are such an important part of academic engagement.

"We now know there has not been just one outcome from the events; some societies have been able to eradicate the authoritarian states under which they lived and have replaced them with what may prove to be democratic states, others have not."  

Available for interview on Friday 15 March

Prof. George Joffe, London University & University of Cambridge, 

Prof. Shahram Akbarzadeh, University of Melbourne

Prof. Fethi Mansouri, Deakin University

Prof. Emma Murphy, Durham University

A/Prof. Richard Pennell, The University of Melbourne

Prof. Amin Saikal AM, Australian National University. 


Source: The University Of Melbourne

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