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Humboldt University Berlin

Bucerius Fieldwork Grant

Authoritarian Learning in Times of Uncertainty. Investigating Learning Mechanisms and their Influence on Authoritarian Regimes During the Arab Uprisings


Expanding on previous works on diffusion and learning in social movement theory and policy diffusion, I argue that under circumstances of regional diffused contention, authoritarian learning can have a crucial impact on the survival of authoritarian regimes under threat. International effects constrain and shape the options and abilities of ruling coalitions and opposition actors alike. Investigating the recent protests throughout the Arab World during the period of regional contention in 2011, I will highlight the importance of authoritarian learning mechanisms for the regimes’ ability to contain challenges to its authority. Building on conceptual insights from other literatures on learning processes, this dissertation is driven by the aim to theoretically and methodologically spell-out mechanisms of learning in authoritarian contexts to improve our understanding of diffusion of practices amongst authoritarian regimes.

Ilyas Saliba studied political science with a focus on comparative politics and international relations at the University of Hamburg, University of Gothenburg, University of Zürich and ETH Zürich from where he received his MA in 2013. He is a Ph.D. student at the Berlin Graduate School for Social Sciences at the Humboldt University and a Research Associate at the Democracy & Democratization research unit at the WZB – Berlin Social Science Center. He is also an Associate Fellow at the European University Institute (EUI) Europe in the World Program and the German Council on Foreign Relations (DGAP).
His research interests are Middle Eastern Politics, Democratization, Authoritarianism and Foreign Policy. He is also a journalist and photographer.

“Dilemmata der Gleichzeitigkeit” with Wolfgang Merkel in: Handbuch zur Transformationsforschung, Raj Kollmorgen, Wolfgang Merkel, Hans-Jürgen Wagener, 2015, pp 517-526, VS Verlag – available online (German only) (forthcoming)

“Security of the Public Sphere: Meeting place in an area of tension between control, freedom and democracy.” with Jonas Hagmann in: Bulletin zur Schweizer Sicherheitspolitik 2013 – available online (German only)

“The Mideast conflict 2011” in: Das Kriegsgeschehen 2011 Daten und Tendenzen der Kriege und bewaffneten Konflikte edited by Wolfgang Schreiber, VS Verlag  (forthcoming)

“The Kashmir Conflict 2010” in: Das Kriegsgeschehen 2010 Daten und Tendenzen der Kriege und bewaffneten Konflikte edited by Wolfgang Schreiber, VS Verlag (forthcoming)

Book Reviews
“Europäische Sicherheits- und Verteidigungspolitik – Anspruch oder Wirklichkeit?“ Volker Epping, Christiane Lemke, Alim Baluch (Edts.), Berlin (LIT Verlag), in S+F. Sicherheit + Frieden. Security + Peace, volume 4/2011; p. 292-4

“Geheimdienste in Europa - Transformation, Kooperation und Kontrolle” Thomas Jäger, Anna Daun (Edts.), Wiesbaden (VS Verlag), in S+F. Sicherheit + Frieden. Security + Peace, volume 2/2011; p. 137-8 

“The Afghanistan Challenge: Hard Realities & Strategic Choices” Hans-Georg Ehrhart / Charles C. Pentland (Edts.), McGill Queens University Press in S+F. Sicherheit + Frieden. Security + Peace, volume 2/2010; p. 124-5

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