Scholars of the Middle East based in social science disciplines—especially my own, political science—are likely to feel a bit more welcome by their colleagues as a result of recent events in the Middle East. Not only will we be informative conversationalists in the hallways for a while because of our regional expertise, but also, far more profoundly, the sorts of things that political scientists study, from voting patterns to regime change, are suddenly interesting subjects in the region. This is not to say that Middle East elections were not studied in the past or that research on political change was not undertaken—far from it. But the questions posed, the terms used, and tools employed were often different from those more prevalent in the discipline. Political scientists focusing on the Middle East are therefore likely to find this a gratifying time, ripe with opportunities for comparative and cross-regional analysis. And those nonregional specialists whose interests lie in a wide variety of topics from voting behavior to revolutions may work harder to incorporate Middle Eastern cases into their own work.
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