Dec 18, 2012

Prof. Satoru NAKAMURA (Kobe University) & Prof. Masaki MATSUO (Utsunomiya University) deliver a Social Outreach Seminar

On December 15, 2012, Prof. Satoru NAKAMURA (Associate Professor, Kobe University) & Prof. Masaki MATSUO (Associate Professor, Utsunomiya University) presented a Social Outreach Seminar entitled “Research Design for Political Science in the Middle East.”

This Social Outreach Seminar was co-hosted with multiple Middle East studies research groups. Following greetings from APU APS Associate Professor Takuro Kikkawa, a brief explanation of the purpose of the seminar was presented by the representative of the co-hosting research groups, Associate Professor Kota Suechika of Ritsumeikan University. The so-called “Arab Spring” occurring in the Arab world beginning in 2011, has presented a big challenge to the existing perceptions and methods of Middle East studies, and has raised the necessity to rethink the research design of politics in the Middle East. This seminar elaborated on this new trend. 

In the first report, “New Omnibalancing Theory and Preemptive Diplomacy: A Case Study of Saudi Arabia’s Syria Policy”, Associate Professor Satoru NAKAMURA (Kobe University) explained omnibalancing theory, a model for international politics, using the case study of Saudi Arabia’s diplomacy. Professor Nakamura argued that many cases of omnibalancing in the Middle East pertain to political leaders who are only thinking of protecting themselves. In that sense, a future possible regional threat will be proxy wars breaking out within lesser powers involving both domestic and foreign agents.  

Although recent omnibalancing actions in Saudi Arabia have largely focused on Syria, Prof. Nakamura explained that the leaders of Saudi Arabia have continued to propagate such policies through the monopolization of domestic hegemony, since the time of the county’s founding. However, he said that with a backdrop of the actions of Saudi Arabia from August 2011 onward, with fear of criticism from inside the country, there has been an intention to further weaken Syria. Prof. Nakamura's report was a work of great effort in which the greatly different approaches of international political theories and regional studies were skillfully merged.

In the report from Associate Professor Masaki MATSUO (Utsunomiya University), “Authoritarian Regimes in the Gulf Arab States - From the Viewpoints of Immigration, Labor Market and Industrial Structure", very thought-provoking models were presented to explain today’s authoritarian regimes in the Gulf Arab states. According to Prof. Matsuo, the rentier state hypothesis has reached its limit, and instead a “Gulf-style ethnocracy” has started to form.  

In his report, following explanation of the concept of Gulf-style ethnocracy, Prof. Matsuo explained patterns of ethnocracy using statistics, mainly on labor market analyses in Kuwait and Bahrain, and also discussed the offshorization of labor markets aimed at immigrants. Prof. Matsuo presented a new viewpoint that the system of division of labor by nationality in the Gulf economies, which heavily rely on foreign workers, paradoxically, has lead to the reduction of dissatisfaction among the countries’ citizens as well as expansion of profits of employers in these countries, leading to empowerment of these peoples.

In the Q&A session after the presentations by Prof. Nakamura and Prof. Matsuo, researchers and graduate students from all parts of Japan, attendees from outside, and APU students asked many questions and made many comments, and the presentation ended on a high note.

This lecture was made possible through the invitation of APS Associate Professor Takuro Kikkawa. 


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