October 30, 2020

Singh Presents to Middle East Studies Association

Associate Professor Ranjit Singh, Department of Political Science and International Affairs

Associate Professor Ranjit Singh, Department of Political Science and International Affairs

Associate Professor Ranjit Singh of the Political Science and International Affairs department presented his paper “Arguing BDS: Reflections of Teaching Undergraduates about Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions” to the annual conference of the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) on October 15, 2020. Singh’s paper reflects on his experiences teaching a 2019 seminar titled “Political Dissent in the Middle East.” His paper was sponsored by MESA’s Committee for Undergraduate Middle East Studies, which he helped to found ten years ago.

Also at the MESA conference, Singh served as a discussant for papers accepted to the Committee’s forum on undergraduate research. Sarah Pietrowski, a UMW Political Science senior, successfully presented her research titled “The Impact of Syrian Refugees on German Immigration Policy” to the same forum. She initially developed her paper in Singh’s Spring 2020 “Politics of the Middle East and North Africa” course.

UMW Forms Partnership with Northern Virginia Conservation Trust

UMW students at the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust luncheon.

UMW students at the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust’s 25th anniversary conservation luncheon.

UMW students have the opportunity to learn about the policy process, gain practical skills, and pursue their passion for protecting the environment. Dr. Ranjit Singh has formed a partnership with the Northern Virginia Conservation Trust (NVCT), a land trust operating in the dense urban areas of Northern Virginia’s suburbs. Dr. Singh, associate professor of political science and international affairs, has worked with NVCT to help students learn about legislative and legal strategies for conserving undeveloped land. A partnership that provides unique learning experiences for the students and much-needed support for the NVCT, Singh has used his long-standing relationship with the Trust to provide chances for students to volunteer in a variety of projects and serve as interns.  One of Singh’s formers students is now on the board of directors for the Trust, building upon his past volunteer experience with them. The Trust had their 25th anniversary conservation luncheon on March 21, 2019 at the Key Bridge Marriott, and UMW sponsored a table for this event. Dr. Singh was able to bring eight students to the event. Demonstrating the promise of community engagement, this partnership represents a example of President Paino’s strategic vision for UMW over the next decade.

 

Singh Discusses Muslims and Community

Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Ranjit Singh and Sister Munira Salim Abdalla discussed Muslims and the Fredericksburg community on the  Feb. 11 Town Talk radio program in response to recent controversy over a new mosque. The program may be heard on WFVA radio here: http://www.newstalk1230.net/episode/town-talk-feb-11/

UMW Professor Assesses Afghan Political Party Initiative

Young Afghan political party activists who received training through a pro-democracy initiative offer hope for effective democratic elections in the war-torn country, according to University of Mary Washington Professor Ranjit Singh, who recently returned from a 10-day research and reporting trip to Afghanistan.

Singh, associate professor of political science and international relations,

Ranjit Singh

Ranjit Singh, associate professor of political science and international relations.

traveled to Kabul earlier this month at the request of the U.S.-based National Democratic Institute (NDI). The nonprofit agency that works to strengthen democratic institutions worldwide was contracted by the British Foreign Office to implement a 27-month program to support the role of political parties in Afghanistan. Singh interviewed nearly 40 members and leaders of various Afghan political parties in an effort to assess the effectiveness of the program that ends this month.

“Robust political parties are considered essential to modern democracies,” said Singh, an accredited international election observer who witnessed the Afghan presidential election of 2009 as part of a delegation of foreign policy experts. Singh also has been part of observer delegations during the elections in South Africa and Namibia in 1994, Bangladesh in 1996, Liberia in 1997 and the Gaza Strip in 1996, 2005 and 2006.

In an effort to bolster stability and democratic development, the NDI support program provides party-related workshops, guidance and technical consultations.  Party experts from around the world, including the Balkans, have relied on their own experiences to help Afghan party activists work with media, develop campaign strategies and platforms, create effective databases, target voters, select candidates, and much more, said Singh.

Political parties play significant roles, said Singh. They organize and mobilize citizens with common interests; translate those interests in policies; and stabilize a society by providing mechanisms for non-violent competition. So far, such parties haven’t been as successful in Afghanistan.

“They face a number of strong obstacles, including a public mistrust of parties that stems from decades of war,” said Singh. In addition, he said political parties confront a tendency towards ethnic divisions, dependency on warlords, a largely unchecked presidency, which make building party structures at the local level very difficult.

He noted a generation gap operating within many Afghan parties.
“Younger members are seeking to modernize their parties’ internal workings in the face of opposition from senior, established party leaders,” said Singh.

Security issues pose another hurdle to building effective parties.
“Afghan party members find travel among the provinces dangerous and expensive,” said Singh. “In some cases, they have to hide the training program materials they’ve received from Taliban operating roadside checkpoints. This makes it hard for parties to establish branch offices and conduct effective campaigns outside the capital area.”

Despite the challenges, Singh sees benefits of the two-year support program.

“The people who participated in the training and workshops have enthusiastically embraced the information and campaign techniques they’ve learned,” said Singh, who will submit his final report to NDI by the month’s end. “Many of the trainees are young, practical men and women, and their training often has enabled them to rise to positions of greater responsibility within their party.”

Singh Presents at National Conference

On Nov. 22, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs Ranjit Singh presented a paper titled “Teaching Social Media and Middle East Studies” to the annual Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference in Washington, D.C. His paper addressed three common pedagogical challenges Arab studies instructors face as they incorporate social media into their courses. Singh then outlined a classroom exercise, inspired by the work of Hamada bin Amar, a well-known Tunisian hip hop artist, that takes advantage of the language barrier that normally exists between students and Arabic social media content.

Singh’s presentation was part of a six-person, interdisciplinary academic panel on “Social Media and Pedagogy of Middle East Studies” that he organized for this year’s national conference. The panel was sponsored by MESA’s Committee for Undergraduate Middle East Studies, which Singh helped found several years ago. The Committee is dedicated to addressing the particular needs of Middle East studies faculty and programs oriented towards serving undergraduates. Its programs focus on sharing information and ideas about pedagogy, student research and other areas of specific concern.

Nabil al-Tikriti, Associate Professor in the UMW Department of History and American Studies, served as panel chair.

Singh and Al-Tikriti Participate in Middle East Studies Association Conference

On Oct. 10 to 13, Professors Ranjit Singh, political science and international affairs, and Nabil Al-Tikriti, history and American studies, attended the 2013 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Conference in New Orleans, LA. The conference is the primary professional event for Middle East Studies in North America. On Oct. 11, Nabil Al-Tikriti chaired a panel entitled “Empire and Belonging: Ottoman Empire to Modern Turkey,” which brought together four scholars offering papers concerning intellectual luminaries in the late Ottoman Empire and early Republican Turkey. On Oct. 12, Ranjit Singh’s presentation on the “Teacher’s Dilemma” presented by new media  was part of the “Media, Media Literacy, and Teaching Middle East Studies” panel sponsored by MESA’s Committee for Undergraduate Middle East Studies (CUMES).

Ranjit Singh Coauthors Article

Ranjit Singh, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Affairs, coauthored with U.S. Navy Commander Youssef Aboul Enein an article titled “After Checkmate: The Use and Limits of the Chess Analogy Regarding Syria,” which appeared in the Small Wars Journal. The article examines frequent assumptions in the use of the chess analogy to describe the risks and benefits of intervention in Syria, and cultural differences in how the game is played. The article germinated from discussions that followed Dr. Singh’s formal lecture on “Political Islam and the Arab Spring,” delivered in May as part of the ongoing National Security Lecture series hosted at UMW’s Dahlgren campus.

 

UMW Faculty to Discuss Anniversary of Iraq War

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Nabil Al-Tikriti

Eric Bonds

Eric Bonds

UMW faculty members will discuss the 10 year anniversary of the Iraq War during a roundtable on Wednesday, Feb. 13. The discussion will begin at 4 p.m. in Combs Hall, Room 139 and is free and open to the public.

The roundtable will feature Nabil Al-Tikriti, associate professor of history, Eric Bonds, assistant professor of sociology, Jason Davidson, associate professor of political science and Stephen Farnsworth, professor of political science and director of the Center for Leadership and Media Studies. All four faculty members have published scholarly research on aspects of the war. Ranjit Singh, associate professor of political science, will serve as the moderator.

For more information, contact Jason Davidson at jdavidso@umw.edu or (540) 654-1509.

Jason Davidson

Stephen Farnsworth

Stephen Farnsworth

Ranjit Singh
Ranjit Singh

Ranjit Singh to be Featured on Public Radio Program

Ranjit Singh

Ranjit Singh, associate professor of political science, will reflect on his experience with Bahrain’s royal family in relation to last year’s uprising in the Middle East during an interview on the “With Good Reason” public radio program beginning Saturday, January 7.

The interview can be heard on January 7 at 4:30 p.m. on WCVE 88.9 FM and on Sunday, January 8 at 7 p.m. and Monday, January 9 at 12:30 a.m. on WAMU 88.5 FM. The segment, “Reflections on Arab Spring,” is expected to be online beginning the week of the show at http://withgoodreasonradio.org/2012/01/reflections-on-the-arab-spring/.

Read the full news release.

Ranjit Singh to Deliver Addresses in Japan

Ranjit Singh, associate professor of political science and international affairs, will deliver the keynote address opening a two-day workshop titled “Conflict, Collapsed States, and Social Movements in the Contemporary Middle East and Asia,” which will be held in Kyoto on October 8.

The workshop is jointly organized by Kyoto University’s Center for Islamic Area Studies, the Tokyo University of Foreign Studies and an organization called Humanosphere. Singh’s address, “Reflections on the Arab Spring,” focuses on the recent popular uprising in Bahrain, and recalls a period, twenty years ago, when he worked as a ghostwriter for a member of that country’s ruling family. His address provides a glimpse into the life of a now-prominent Bahraini minister and the inner workings of the monarchy. It will appear in the workshop’s published proceedings.

Singh will deliver the same talk a few days later to another audience at Tokyo University. At the Kyoto workshop, he will also formally comment on the research papers on Middle East topics delivered by Japanese MA and Ph.D. students. Kyoto and Tokyo Universities are sponsoring the week-long trip.