Jillian Schwedler

Position: Professor

Research Interests: Comparative Politics, Social Movements and Contentious Politics, Protest and Policing, Political Geography, Middle East, Political Islam, Ethnography and Interpretive Methods

Dr. Jillian Schwedler is a professor of political science at the City University of New York’s Hunter College and the Graduate Center. She is a current member of the editorial committee and former chair of the board of directors (2002-09) of the Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP), publishers of the quarterly Middle East Report.

Schwedler is the author of the award-winning Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge 2006) and most recently editor (with Laleh Khalili) of Policing and Prisons in the Middle East (Columbia/Hurst 2010). Her articles have appeared in World Politics, Comparative Politics, Middle East Policy, Middle East Report, Journal of Democracy, and Social Movement Studies, among many others.

Schwedler has conducted research in Jordan, Yemen, and Egypt and has traveled extensively throughout the Middle East including with support from the National Science Foundation, the United States Institute of Peace, the Fulbright Scholars Program, the American Institute for Yemen Studies, and the Social Science Research Council. Her work broadly engages questions of contentious politics, political geography, Islamist politics, policing, neoliberalism, and political dissent. Schwedler received her PhD in politics from New York University (NYU) in 2000 and holds MA and BA degrees from that institution in Middle East studies. She is currently finishing a book examining political protests and policing in Jordan, with special attention to the neoliberal period and the regime’s numerous rebranding projects.


policing and prisonsLaleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler, eds., Policing and Prisons in the Middle East (Oxford University Press, 2010).

The emergence of the modern Middle East has been accompanied by a concentration of coercive power in the state. Although the region has encompassed numerous Mukhabarat (secret police) states, extensive policing and carceral regimes, and widespread use of torture and spectacular punishments, and although its prisons and policing practices are regularly condemned by human rights organisations, surprisingly few analyses explore the emergence of these grim institutions.

This volume is the first to examine systematically practices of policing and incarceration in the modern Middle East, the emergence of modern policing and prisons and their continued predominance. It offers a useful lens through which the complexity of state power and the contours of popular contentious politics can be read.

9780521040006-template.inddJillian Schwedler, Faith in Moderation: Islamist Parties in Jordan and Yemen (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

Does political inclusion produce ideological moderation? Schwedler argues that examining political behaviour alone provides insufficient evidence of moderation because it leaves open the possibility that political actors might act as if they are moderate while harbouring radical agendas. Through a comparative study of the Islamic Action Front party in Jordan and the Islah party in Yemen, she argues that the IAF in Jordan has become more moderate through participation in pluralist political processes, while the Islah party has not. The variation is explained in part by internal group organization and decision-making processes, but particularly by the ways in which the IAF has been able to justify its new pluralist practices on Islamic terms while the Islah party has not. Based on nearly four years of field research in Jordan and Yemen, Schwedler contributes both an important theory of ideological moderation and detail about these powerful Islamist political parties.

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