2022/ 2023

Jeffrey G. Karam

Revolution and the Boundaries of Political Change: The Lebanon Uprising of 2019 and the International Politics of Counter-Revolution

Previous Fellowships: 2021/ 2022, 2020/ 2021

is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the Lebanese American University. He is a non-resident Research Associate at Harvard University’s Middle East Initiative. He received his MA in Politics from the American University of Beirut and his PhD in Politics from Brandeis University. He is the recipient of the Christopher Andrew-Michael Handel Prize (2017) and the Hussein Oueini Memorial Award. He has held postdoctoral fellowships and visiting professorships at Harvard University and Boston University. His research focuses on the Politics of Intelligence and Foreign Policy and Revolutions and Counter-Revolutions in the Middle East. Karam is the editor of The Middle East in 1958: Reimagining A Revolutionary Year (London: I.B. Tauris and Bloomsbury, 2020). He is currently finishing his first book on American intelligence and foreign policy in the Middle East during revolutionary times and political change. Karam recently co-edited the books The Lebanon Uprising of 2019: Voices from the Revolution (I.B. Tauris, 2022) and Global Authoritarianism: Perspectives and Contestations from the South (Transcript, 2022). His research has been published in academic and public outlets, including Intelligence and National Security, the Arab Studies Journal, The Washington Post, H-Diplo/ISSF, the Daily Star Lebanon, Megaphone, Jadaliyya.
From 2021-2022, Karam was a Research Fellow with the Global Scholarly Dialogue Programme of the Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung, affiliated with EUME and the Center for Middle Eastern and North African Politics at Freie Universität Berlin. In academic year 2022/23, he continues to be affiliated with EUME.


Revolution and the Boundaries of Political Change: The Lebanon Uprising of 2019 and the International Politics of Counter-Revolution

This project examines how foreign powers often act as counter-revolutionary forces in times of revolutionary change. It investigates the case of Lebanon in 2019 to show how foreign powers, such as the United States, France, Russia, and others, bolstered the sectarian-based political system to maintain the status-quo after the eruption of the massive uprising on October 17, 2019. By examining foreign powers as counter-revolutionary forces, Karam explains some of the challenges of emancipatory politics during revolutionary times. He compares the similarity of positions taken by foreign powers during the initial phase of the Lebanon Uprising of 2019. His emphasis on the actions of great powers as counter-revolutionary forces demonstrates that the initial setbacks of many uprisings in the first and second wave of these revolutionary struggles in the Middle East are not solely based on endogenous factors. Karam, therefore, provides a holistic account of the challenges of mobilization during revolutionary times by extending beyond local factors and adding international and regional features that are still consequential in many post-colonial societies. Karam’s research demonstrates that the convergence of interests between foreign powers limited the possibilities of change and socio-political reform after hundreds of thousands of Lebanese took to the streets in October 2019 and afterwards.