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Forum on Geopolitics

Department of Politics and International Studies (POLIS)

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A Westphalia for the Middle East: Session 1

When Mar 02, 2016
from 02:00 PM to 07:00 PM
Where King's College London, Strand Campus
Contact Name
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What if everything you think you know about Westphalia is wrong, and these misconceptions – shared by policymakers the world over – contribute daily to the seemingly intractable tangle of conflicts consuming the modern Middle East?

The 'Westphalia for the Middle East' seminar series has been convened by Dr Patrick Milton (Berlin), Prof. Brendan Simms (Cambridge) and Dr Michael Axworthy (Exeter), who also acts as chairperson.

It will commence on Wednesday 2 March 2016 with a seminar on 'The development of the Middle Eastern Problem since 1914 and the failure of sovereignty'.

This seminar will take place at King's College London (Strand Campus) from 2pm on Wednesday 2 March 2016. Registration essential.

Programme and speakers for Seminar One: the development of the Middle Eastern Problem since 1914 and the failure of sovereignty

14:00 Welcome and Introduction
John Bew (King's College London), Brendan Simms (Cambridge), Michael Axworthy (Exeter), Malik Dahlan (Quraysh), Patrick Milton (FU Berlin)

14:20 – 15:00 Session 1: The Sectarian Dimension
Chair: Laura James (Cambridge)
Speaker: Toby Matthiesen (Oxford)
Commentator: Anuschka Tischer (Würzburg)

15:00 – 15:15 Break

15:15 – 15:55 Session 2: The Political Dimension
Chair: Michael Axworthy
Speaker: Ali Ansari (St. Andrew's)

Commentator: Michael Rowe (King's College London)

15:55 – 16:35 Session 3: The Geopolitical dimension
Chair: Martin Jacques (Cambridge)
Speaker: Payam Ghalehdar (Cambridge)
Commentator: Brendan Simms (Cambridge)

16:35 – 16:55 Break

16:55 – 18:15 Session 4: Case studies
Chair: Charlie Laderman (Cambridge)
Speaker: Gareth Stansfield (Exeter): Iraq
Speaker: Raphaël Lefèvre (Cambridge/Carnegie Middle East Center): Syria

Commentator: Mohammad Shabani (SOAS)

18:15 – 18:45 Plenary discussion and concluding remarks

18:45 Buffet reception


This series has been supported by:

Pre-registration is required. Please contact to book your attendance. Please indicate any institutional, departmental or organisational affiliation.

A Westphalia for the Middle East: Session 1 flyer

About the project

The seminars are the centrepiece of a new, collaborative, 18-month project entitled "A Westphalia for the Middle East", to be held under the auspices of the Forum on Geopolitics at POLIS and the Dept. of War Studies, King's College London.

The purpose of the series is to determine how seventeenth-century Central-European conflict-resolution models relating to the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation – chiefly the treaties of Westphalia (1648) – could be applied to the geopolitical challenges of the contemporary Middle East. A particular concern of the proposed analysis is to avoid the widespread and tenacious myth that Westphalia inaugurated a system of state sovereignty and non-intervention in domestic affairs. Instead of this 'mythical' Westphalia, we are proposing an application of the principles and mechanisms underpinning the actual terms of the treaties of Osnabrück and Münster to the Middle East.

The project will take the form of an eight-part seminar series, aimed at senior academics and practitioners, which will produce a series of substantive reports to be presented for publication either as a special issue of a leading peer-reviewed journal or with a first-rank University Press.

The series is intended to be the first step in a longer-term (minimum five-year) research project and events series, and to create the intellectual momentum and web-based infrastructure for a global network of academics and practitioners.

Part One

  1. The development of the Middle Eastern Problem since 1914 and the failure of sovereignty (venue: KCL)
  2. 2. The Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century crisis in Central Europe – Setting up the problem (venue: Cambridge)
  3. The Peace of Westphalia – Setting up the Solution (venue: Cambridge)
  4. Maintaining the Peace – the impact of Westphalia during the subsequent 150 years (venue: KCL)

Part Two

  1. The Westphalian Myth and its consequences, 1945 to the present day (venue: Cambridge)
  2. A new internal settlement for the Middle East (venue: Cambridge)
  3. A new international settlement for the Middle East (venue: Cambridge)
  4. Workshop: Drafting a Westphalia for the Middle East (venue: KCL)



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