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Research Theme for 2013-14: “The Language of Politics and the Politics of Language”

The relationship between language and politics in the Middle East is fraught and little studied. The Republic of Turkey adopted a language policy that irrevocably changed Turkish and then deployed this as an instrument for molding a new national identity. Similarly, Arab nationalism used Arabic for ideological purposes, adopting specific rhetorical registers, vocabularies and tropes that are now being abandoned with the rise of new regimes with an Islamist orientation. As with the nationalists, Islamists have deliberately used language to advance their ideas about society and their political agendas. In so doing, they shun certain usages and terms while privileging others. The Islamic Republic of Iran, for example, has developed a repertoire of slogans and terms for promoting its distinctive ideological worldview. The government of Saudi Arabia has also used particular registers of Islamic theology and law to specific ends. These, however, are contested by Islamists and liberal-minded activists who seek greater accountability and transparency in governance. And the contested process of constitutional drafting in Egypt provides another good illustration of the importance of language. The relationship between language and politics, at the state as well as the street level, is the theme that the Institute for Transregional Studies wishes to explore during the academic year 2013-2014.

Research Support Opportunities

Under this general theme, the Institute invites applications for Postdoctoral or Visiting Research Scholar positions from candidates with any disciplinary or theoretical perspective (e.g., history, law, sociology, anthropology, demography, politics, literature, as well as Islamic and gender studies). Appointments will be for the academic year, September 1, 2013 through June 30, 2014, with the possibility of renewal, subject to satisfactory performance and continued funding. Subject to the approval of the Department of Near Eastern Studies and the Dean of the Faculty, research associates will be expected to teach a one-semester undergraduate course, which may be open to graduate students. Candidates must hold the Ph.D. degree and are expected to pursue independent research at Princeton and to participate in Institute-related activities on campus. Preference will be given to academics whose research, teaching, and professional activities relate to the Institute’s 2013-2014 theme. Travel assistance of up to $1500 for round-trip, economy-class airfare will be available to appointees and their immediate families. Salary, title and eligibility to teach will be based on successful applicants’ qualifications and is subject to approval by Princeton’s Dean of the Faculty and relevant academic departments.

To Apply-Interested applicants must apply online at and submit a current curriculum vitae, a research statement (maximum length 2 pages), a cover letter, and contact information for three references. Princeton University is an equal opportunity employer and complies with applicable EEO and affirmative action regulations. For information, contact: Department of Near Eastern Studies Transregional Institute Research Fellowships, 110 Jones Hall, Princeton University, Princeton NJ 08544 (Fax: 609-258-0204; deadline: December 31, 2012.


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