Multiple internal and external factors have led to the decline of state functionality in parts of the Arab region, feeding borderless and proxy conflicts with key roles played by transnational non-state actors. In addition to large-scale movement of populations, where the transaction of citizenship yields little, externally financed social and religious movements are supplying alternate forms of identity and governance. In this climate, rising political violence is mixed with criminal violence, trafficking, and violation of human rights and international law. Yet the majority of Arabs–people under age 35–continue to oppose authoritarianism and terrorism as top concerns. At a time of historic social and political change in the Arab region, the social science and humanities sectors in the region serve an essential function. Research, analysis, and reflection by the region’s experts are needed both to understand present developments and to build the future.
The Corporation has conducted over fifteen years of trend-setting funding in Middle East and Islamic Studies, supporting hundreds of experts in the United States and the Arab region engaged in research, communication, and exchanges. Corporation grants enabled the editing and re-issuing of modernist Classics of the Islamic Heritage, the growth of regional academic associations and professional networks, and public-private partnerships for intercultural understanding. The Corporation supported over 120 books by a new generation of researchers illuminating the diversity of Muslim societies and thought. Drawing on this legacy, the Corporation’s new focus on Transnational Movements and the Arab Region addresses current challenges in the region. It aims to: