3 x Lecturer in the School of Politics & International Relations (Permanent), School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe)

ucd logoApplications are invited for a permanent appointment(s) as Lecturer in the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. Appointments will be offered across any subfields or methodological approaches in politics or international relations.

The person(s) appointed will be expected to contribute significantly to research and teaching in their own area of specialisation within politics or international relations. The ability to teach in additional sub-fields is desirable. The principal motivation for these posts is to expand and deepen the School’s research profile, to strengthen undergraduate teaching, to contribute to further expansion in graduate education (taught and research), to build additional international research networks and to contribute to a vibrant, collegial and ambitious group of scholars.

The successful candidate(s) will be offered a permanent academic post and be eligible for Tenure. Note: Lecturers in UCD must have successfully completed a (1 year) probation and (up to 3 years) induction period to be eligible to apply for the award of tenure.

Note: It is envisaged interviews will take place in week commencing Monday 14th December 2015. The appointed Lecturer(s) will commence in post on 1 September 2016; but earlier start dates will be considered. Furthermore: Applicants should NOT include any writing samples when submitting their application.

2013 Lecturer (above the bar)_2010 Salary Scale: €50,807 – €76,936 per annum.
Appointment will be made on scale and in accordance with the Department of Finance guidelines

Closing date: 17:00hrs (GMT) on Monday 16th November 2015

Applications must be submitted by the closing date and time specified. Any applications which are still in progress at the closing time of 17:00hrs on the specified closing date will be cancelled automatically by the system. UCD do not accept late applications. NO writing samples should be submitted with applications.

Apply here: https://www.ucd.ie/hr/jobvacancies/

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Book just published: Politics and Governance in the Middle East

Dr. Vincent Durac portraitDr. Vincent Durac, of SPIRe has just published a new book entitled Politics and Governance in the Middle East (co-authored with Francesco Cavatorta of Laval University). Below is a description of the book, which can be purchased here.

The wave of protests and civil unrest that began in 2011 across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) was a watershed moment in the politics of the region. Known as the ‘Arab Awakening’, or ‘Arab Spring’, its impact on the region and on wider international affairs has changed perceptions of the Middle East and resulted in similar revolts elsewhere.

In this wide-ranging and accessible text, the authors examine the key aspects of governance in the MENA, and locate the recent uprisings in their broader historical, social and political context. Taking a thematic approach that engages with core theory as well as the authors’ own extensive research, the text assesses various issues, including the impact of oil on both domestic politics and international relations, the vexed relationship between religion and politics, the development of ‘security states’, and the role of women in society.

The analysis moves beyond the characterization of the Middle East as either in the midst of a democratic transition or as a persistently authoritarian region to show how both perspectives should work together to enhance our understanding. Expertly
navigating from the everyday politics of life in the Middle East to the influence and responses of global actors with vested interests, this text provides a nuanced and comprehensive account of this diverse region.

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Social Movements, Protest Movements and Cross-Ideological Coalitions: the Arab Uprisings Reappraised

Dr. Vincent Durac portraitNew research on social movement from SPIRe just published in a special issue of Democratization (Vol. 22, Issue 2, 2015) from SPIRe’s Dr. Vincent Durac.

Abstract: This article explores the utility of social movement theory, reviewing conceptual developments and its application to Middle East cases before examining its relevance to the Arab uprisings. The initial youth-led new social movements were non-ideological, leaderless, and lacking in clear organizational structures. As the protest movements spread, they grew to encompass a diverse array of other movements and actors: The breadth and diversity of these coalitions made the successful achievement of their core demands for regime change possible. However, the persistence of ideological cleavages within them made agreement on the post-regime change political order near impossible.

The full paper can be found here.

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New publication: Tolerance and Diversity in Ireland North and South

Iseult Honohan

SPIRe’s Dr. Iseult Honohan has just had an edited volume published in collaboration with Dr. Nathalie Rougier in the Manchester University Press. Details about the project are below and the book can be purchased here.

This book examines the treatment of cultural and religious diversity – indigenous and immigrant – on both sides of the Irish border in order to analyse the current state of tolerance and to consider the kinds of policies that may support integration while respecting diversity. The first two sections focus on the spheres of education, civic life and politics, including chapters on specific groups (e.g. travellers and immigrants), as well as on the communal divisions in Northern Ireland. Later chapters reflect on the Irish experience of diversity, and consider what may be the most appropriate approaches and discourses to deal with diversity, whether these involve tolerance, recognition or transformative reconciliation. 


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Does Europe Embrace “Aid for Trade”?

Sam BrazysSPIRe’s Dr. Samuel Brazys, along with Dr. Simon Lightfoot of the University of Leeds, explore the extent bilateral adoption of Aid for Trade (AfT) norms in Europe is the result of a Europeanisation process in a recent paper published in European Politics and Society. Using three case study countries (Germany, Ireland, Czech Republic) they examine the level of Europeanisation across policies, polities and politics. They highlight the roles played by socialisation and capacity within this field, which forms an important test case for the Europeanisation of development policies as it blurs the distinction between the European Union (EU)-member state shared competences of development with the EU single competence of trade. They find significant variation in both the depth and speed in adapting the EU AfT norms. The investigation into the AfT Europeanisation process in Germany, Ireland and the Czech Republic found this variation to be a function of both capacity and socialisation with the caveat that capacity appears as a more influential explanatory factor in the depth of Europeanisation while socialisation may promote a speedier process.

The paper may be read here.

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Inaugural SPIRe Seminar: Dr. Caroline McEvoy (UCD)

For this week’s SPIRe seminar will have Dr. Caroline McEvoy (UCD) introducing her new project entitled:

Representative, Deliberative or Stealth Democrats:
Exploring the Congruence Gap  
between Citizens’ Conceptions of Democracy
and the Democratic Experience in Europe. 

The seminar takes place in Room G316 Arts (Newman Building) from 12-2pm today, Thursday 10/09/2015. The abstract for the presentation and project is below.

This is the inaugural seminar in the seminar series this year and we look forward to seeing you all there!

Representative, Deliberative or Stealth Democrats: Exploring the Congruence Gap between Citizens’ Conceptions of Democracy and the Democratic Experience in Europe

21st century politics has been marked by a steady decline in public trust for political institutions; a decline in voter turnout at elections; and a collapse in party membership lists, prompting scholars to raise concerns about the ongoing viability of representative democracy. For example, Mair (2005, 2008,2011) argues that citizens and elites have mutually withdrawn from electoral politics resulting in the ‘hollowing out’ of democracy while Flinders (2013, 2) and Stoker (2006, 127) argue that voters have gone from having a healthy skepticism of democratic processes towards a corrosive cynicism towards the regime.

Moreover, since the onset of the economic crisis in 2008, debates about democratic reform been mobilized by the public and political elites alike.

This project poses a series of important, but rarely asked questions about why citizens are turning away from democratic politics, namely what do citizens expect from democracy, what democratic values do they prioritize, how well do institutions meet these expectations and does the (in)congruence between expectations and how democracy functions in practice, influence public trust, voter turnout and levels of party membership? Utilizing an innovative dataset from the European Social Survey (2012), the project conducts a cross national quantitative analysis of 29 European states, exploring the gaps between voter expectations of democracy e.g. more participation, greater freedom of the press, protection against poverty etc, and what democracy actually delivers. It explores this congruence as both dependent and independent variable. The findings advance the scholarship’s understanding of voter attitudes and are an important contribution to the literature since they provide empirical support to political theory, which argues that a voters perception of the fairness in the political process is at least as important for generating support for democracy as the tangible benefits that they derive from the system are.

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Fallout from Syrian conflict sweeps across Middle East and Europe

Dr. Vincent Durac portrait

by Dr. Vincent Durac

Four million people have fled Syria while 12 million inside the country are in need of humanitarian assistance

The beheading earlier this week of Khaled al-Asaad, an 83-year-old archaeologist, by Islamic State militants in the Syrian city of Palmyra brings into focus the level of brutality that four years of conflict has brought upon that country. One of the clearest consequences of this is an unprecedented population movement within and beyond Syria’s borders, which has led to the largest refugee crisis the world has witnessed since the second World War.

According to a statement earlier this week by Germany’s interior minister, up to 800,000 people may request asylum in the country by the end of this year.

The number of refugees and asylum seekers entering Europe or poised to do so is reaching unprecedented levels. Some 225,000 refugees have arrived in Europe since the start of this year, more than half of these entering Greece.

Meanwhile, according to the EU’s border agency, Frontex, the number of aspirant migrants on the borders of the union reached a record high of 107,500 last month. The response of mmber states to the crisis has, to say the least, been highly variable.

Although the EU as a whole agreed in June to resettle 60,000 asylum seekers over the next two years, the distribution of the burden has been uneven and has reflected very different, sometimes disturbing, responses to the crisis.

In the UK, where the summer months have witnessed an increasingly hysterical media response to the presence of some 3,000 migrants camped in Calais in the apparent hope of gaining entry to Britain, refugees and asylum seekers amounted to 0.24 per cent of the total population at the end of 2014, according to UN figures.

Nonetheless, faced with what prime minister David Cameroncharacterised last month as a “swarm of people coming across the Mediterranean seeking a better life”, the UK refused to participate in the EU’s relocation plan for refugees. Under that deal, Ireland agreed to take 600 asylum seekers over the next two years, in addition to plans for the resettlement of 520 Syrians by the end of next year.

Elsewhere, the picture is mixed. Slovakia, for instance, has announced that it will accept 200 refugees – so long as they are Christian. In the words of a spokesman for the interior ministry: “In Slovakia, we don’t have any mosques.”

Meanwhile, Hungary is preparing to build a 13-foot wall along its 109-mile border withSerbia to keep refugees out.

While the number of those arriving in Europe, or to its borders, includes those fleeing locations in sub-Saharan Africa and West Asia, increasingly it is refugees seeking to escape the conflict in Syria that predominate.

Population movement

Four years of conflict in Syria have led to population movement on a scale that has not been seen since the second World War. Out of a total population of 23 million, more than four million have fled Syria’s borders and another 7.6 million are displaced internally.

By last June, more than 300,000 Syrians had applied for asylum in Europe – just under half of these were in Germany and Sweden alone. However, the challenge faced by the countries of the EU is dwarfed by that with which Syria’s neighbours must contend.

As the UN Refugee Agency points out, 86 per cent of the world’s refugees are in developing countries. The Syrian case is no exception – 94 per cent of Syrian refugees are in neighbouring countries in the Middle East, which already face significant political and economic problems. These are dramatically exacerbated by the influx of new arrivals.

Turkey has the highest number of Syrian refugees at 1.8 million, followed by Lebanonwith 1.17 million. There are more than one million more in Jordan, Iraq and Egypt. The case of Lebanon is particularly acute. The balance of the population, Christian, Sunni and Shia, is so delicate that no government has conducted a census since independence in 1946. Refugees now comprise 25 per cent of the total population straining the country’s resources and its political stability to the utmost.

The scale of the Syrian refugee crisis reflects the devastating consequences of four years of fighting in the country involving a myriad of actors.

What began as an uprising against the dictatorial regime of Bashar al-Assad, inspired by the remarkable uprisings across the region in the spring of 2011, has long been transformed into a brutal conflict that has devastated the infrastructure of the country, leaving 12 million Syrians inside the country in need of humanitarian assistance, according to the UN, and prompting the mass movement of people that has been witnessed over the past four years.

The crisis has been fuelled by the failure of regional and international actors to agree on how to resolve it. Indeed, the conflict in Syria quickly became a vehicle for the pursuit of very different interests on the part of regional powers.

For Saudi Arabia and the smaller Gulf states, the removal of the Shia regime of Assad is a core objective. Not only would it remove a regime despised by the Saudis, it would represent a serious blow to their Iranian rivals for regional hegemony. Turkey, once a close ally of the Syrian regime, changed its position and lent its support to radical Islamist groups opposed to Assad. Regime change quickly became a central objective of US and European policy towards Syria also. The official EU position, as restated earlier this year, is to favour a “Syrian-led” process of transition which would see the departure of Assad from office.

However, outside support for radical Islamist groups in Syria has aided the rise of Islamic State and prompted the beginnings of a rethink of policy in the West, at least.

Nuclear programme

For some, the recent rapprochement between Iran and the United States, which culminated in the signing of a deal on Iran’s nuclear programme last month, offers hope that both sides might be open to exploring agreement on the future of Syria.

Following conclusion of the deal, Barack Obama spoke of the need for “agreement among the major powers that are interested in Syria”. This appeared clearly to signal a willingness to talk to Tehran. However, whether the US and Iran could agree on the shape of a Syrian regime without Assad is to be doubted, and even if such agreement were possible, any closer coming together of the two countries would set off alarm bells across the region – among the Arab allies of the US, as well as in Israel.

In the meantime, the Syrian conflict persists and, despite appearances to the contrary, the suffering it causes is largely inflicted on the people of the Middle East and not Europe.

Dr Vincent Durac lectures in Middle East politics in the School of Politics and International Relations in University College Dublin. He is co-author with Francesco Cavatorta of Politics and Governance in the Middle East (Palgrave Macmillan, July 2015)

Originally published in The Irish Times, 22nd August 2015


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Don’t fear the Grexit (Unless you’re Greek)

Sam BrazysOver a month ago I declared that the Grexit was a fait accompli. As soon as Chancellor Merkel publicly declared it was a possibility it was the only end game. Why? Because Greek debt is (and has been) unsustainable and there were ever only two finishes to the crisis: debt-relief or Grexit. The former would be a nice thing to do in a world devoid of political reality, but, for several reasons, it is never going to happen. First, the overwhelming sense of many important creditor nations (and several peripheral ones) was that Greek debt has been a result of Greek profligacy, and those countries can’t ask their tax payers to foot the bill for early Greek retirement. Second, even if these leaders could summon the “statesmanship” necessary to face down their own electorates, relieving Greek debt would create an incredible moral hazard for the other Eurozone debtor nations. If Greece is worthy of a debt write down than surely Ireland? or Portugal? or Spain? How could the ECB, IMF or European Governments refuse? 250 billion € can be managed (heck, Quantitative Easing has printed that much already), a trillion+ would be a bit more challenging. Finally, while it has certainly been bad in Greece, many parts of the EU (and EMU) are still far poorer. As this chart shows, per capita spending on pensions of the Baltic states is significantly less than half that in Greece. Other social spending shows similar relationships. Those invoking the “morality” of debt relief in Greece must think that the Greek elderly are somehow more deserving than their Lithuanian counterparts. The Slovakian finance minister recently made clear that nominal debt relief is a “red line”.

So Grexit it is. But Grexit need not be feared. The political argument against Grexit is weak, but the economic argument is weaker still. The EU is a political project. The EMU is primarily an economic project. Yes, it is not an optimal currency unit and has had its trials and tribulations, but that is largely because it contains states like Greece, who incidentally cooked their books to join. The exit of a suboptimal member out of a currency unit doesn’t make it weaker – it makes it stronger. Even if contagion spreads, which looks increasingly unlikely, and a few other suboptimal dominoes fall, say Portugal, this still isn’t fatal to the currency.  An exchange rate is a price, based on supply and demand of and for a currency, which is driven, to a large extent, by the strength of the economy behind the currency. When an economy that is in the midst of a depression not seen since the 1930s leaves the fold how can markets do anything but cheer?

The refrain that the Euro is a “political project” is only partly true. Britain’s tensions with the EU have little to do with its maintenance of Sterling. Denmark is as much Europe as Belgium. Sweden has chosen an indefinite, de facto, opt out despite a legal obligation to join, and yet remains integral to the European project. Polish plumbers can live and work in France as easily as the Irish. These states all illustrate that EMU membership is NOT a necessary component of being part of the European political project. Many of the states out of the Euro are there because they do not feel the currency fits their macroeconomic goals. The Euro does not fit Greece’s macroeconomic goals and the prudent move is joining the outsiders. For most of the remaining “Eurozone 18” the Euro will continue to work, backed by the 4th, 6th, 8th, 14th and 17th largest economies in the world.

Grexit will be a painful adjustment for Greece, as outlined today in the WSJ, though probably no more than continued austerity and with at least some prospect of eventual recovery (and perhaps even readmission). Germany is right to (finally) call for humanitarian assistance which is vitally necessary as the Greeks rebuild the social safety nets while adjusting to the new Drachma reality. However, Grexit is not a boogeyman that will destroy the European project. Instead it is a sensible and effective separation that will ultimately leave both parties better off.

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SPIRe Irish Times articles

No better time than Summer Term to look back and reflect on the events of the past year.  Below is a selection of articles with a middle-eastern focus written by SPIRe’s Dr. Vincent Durac, and published in the Irish Times  between December 2014 and May 2015.

– ‘Charlie Hebdo: colonial history, foreign policy make France a target’, Irish Times, January 08 2015: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/europe/charlie-hebdo-colonial-history-foreign-policy-make-france-a-target-1.2059424

– ‘Middle East Solutions Must Come From Within’, Irish Times, December 27 2014: http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/review-of-2014-middle-east-solutions-must-come-from-within-1.2044098

– ‘Islamic State Killings Challenge Fragile Democratic Transition in Tunisia’, Irish Times, March 22 2015 at: ‘ http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/islamic-state-killings-challenge-fragile-democratic-transition-in-tunisia-1.2147631

– ‘Islamic State and the Battle for Iraq’, Irish Times, May 23 : http://www.irishtimes.com/news/world/middle-east/islamic-state-and-the-battle-for-iraq-1.2222284

Dr. Vincent Durac portrait

Dr. Vincent Durac lectures in Politics of Development; Middle East Politics; the International Politics of the Middle East ;and Political Islam in the UCD School of Politics and International Relations. His research is focused on a number of aspects of contemporary Middle East Politics, including political reform, the role of civil society the impact of external actors in the region, and Yemeni political dynamics. He is a visiting lecturer in Middle East Politics in Bethlehem University in Palestine. He is a Council member of the Council of the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) and of the European Association for Middle Eastern Studies (EURAMES).

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Berkeley tragedy

A message from Ben Tonra, Head of UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe):

Everyone at UCD SPIRe is profoundly saddened and shocked by the tragic accident in Berkeley, San Francisco.  Six Irish students lost their lives, three were from our UCD community and one from our own UCD SPIRe family.   On behalf of the entire School, staff, students and alumni, I wish to extend our deepest condolences to the families and friends of Niccolai Schuster, 2nd year BA History and Politics, Eimear Walsh and Lorcán Miller, both 3rd year Medicine.  We also send our sympathies to the families of Eoghan Culligan, Olivia Burke and Ashley Donohoe.

For students in the Berkeley area, the University of California Berkeley’s Counselling Services are available from 10.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday at the Tang Centre, 3rd Floor, 2222 Bancroft Way, Berkeley.  (T: 001-510-642-9494).

We know that many of you are working and travelling overseas at the moment and may be feeling deeply upset at this tragedy.  UCD has opened an online book of condolence on the website www.ucd.ie where you can extend your sympathies, offer your thoughts and share your feelings.

For students who are currently in Ireland, you may wish to take note of the following events and supports in UCD over the coming days:

  1. For those who would welcome the opportunity to come together, the UCD chaplaincy is open today Thursday (18th June) from 12.00-6.00pm.  You are very welcome to call in individually or in groups during this time.  Student advisors and other staff will be there for you.
  2. The UCD counselling team are available to any student or staff member who wishes to avail of their service.  You can make an appointment by calling 01 7163134.
  3. With the Students’ Union, UCD will host an interfaith prayer service in Belfield Church on Friday 19th June at 1.00pm.  All staff and students as well as families and friends are welcome to attend.  There will be refreshments afterwards in the Student Centre.

During these days close to this very sad event we all try to provide as much practical and emotional support as possible.   We are also aware of the longer term needs of those who have been affected by this event and UCD student support services along with the academic staff of this School and the wider university will be available to work with students when they return to campus in September.

Take care of yourselves and others.

Ben Tonra,
Head of UCD School of Politics and International Relations (SPIRe)

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