Morten Valbjørn has received a major grant for a group research project, SWAR - Sectarianism in the Wake of the Arab Revolts – beyond primordialist and instrumentalist understandings of Shia/Sunni divisions in a new Middle East.
This project takes its point of departure in the recognition of how a Shia/Sunni divide has become a significant factor in Middle East politics. Against this background, it will examine the causes, nature and consequences of the so-called 'new sectarianism' in the post-Arab Revolts Middle East. As an alternative to the often descriptive accounts of the current sectarianism, and in order to avoid the pitfalls associated with prevalent primordialist or instrumentalist understandings of Shia/Sunni dynamics, the project develops a novel analytical approach. It is inspired by historical sociology and constructivism and couched in an interdisciplinary framework which, based on the principles of analytical eclecticism and methodological triangulation, draws on and combines theories and methods from Political Science, Anthropology, Islamic Studies, and Middle East Studies.
Two other researchers from the ICSRU will be working on this project with Morten: Martin Riexinger and Thomas Brandt Fibiger. The final team member, from outside Aarhus, is Raymond Hinnebusch, who is professor at School of International Relations, University of St. Andrews, Scotland.