Steven Heydemann

Janet Wright Ketcham 1953 Professor in Middle East Studies; Director of Program in Middle East Studies

Steve Heydemann

Contact & Office Hours

Fall 2019
Wednesday, 2–3:30 p.m.
And by appointment.

Seelye Hall 103



Ph.D., A.M., University of Chicago

A.B., University of Michigan


In addition to holding the Janet Wright Ketcham 1953 Chair in Middle East Studies, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government, Steven Heydemann is a nonresident senior fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy of the Brookings Institution. From 2007–15 he held a number of leadership positions at the U.S. Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C., including vice president of applied research on conflict and senior adviser for the Middle East. Prior to joining USIP, he was director of the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University and associate professor in the government department. From 1997 to 2001, he was an associate professor in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University. Earlier, from 1990–97, he directed the Program on International Peace and Security and the Program on the Near and Middle East at the Social Science Research Council in New York.

From 2011–15, Heydemann directed USIP’s Syria program, including The Day After project (TDA), in which the institute facilitated a transition planning process for Syria with the Syrian opposition. The resulting document, "The Day After: Supporting a Democratic Transition in Syria," was widely used by activists, NGOs and governments during the early phases of the Syrian conflict, and it was endorsed by numerous Syrian opposition groups as well as the European Parliament. Following the completion of the planning phase of the TDA project, Heydemann provided technical expertise in support of the creation of a Syrian-led NGO called The Day After Association, based in Istanbul, which works to support the principles and aims of The Day After project in Syria. He remains an adviser to the board of the NGO.

In addition, Heydemann consults widely with the U.S. government, NGOs and European governments on issues relating to Syria policy and the status of the Syrian conflict. He writes regularly on Syria for major media outlets and has appeared as a Syria expert on leading television networks, including the BBC, al-Arabiyya, al-Jazeera, the New York Times, The Washington Post, Foreign Policy Journal and PBS.

Heydemann is a political scientist who specializes in the comparative politics and the political economy of the Middle East, with a particular focus on Syria. His interests include authoritarian governance, economic development, social policy, political and economic reform and civil society. Among his many publications are "Explaining the Arab Uprisings: Transformations in Comparative Perspective," Mediterranean Politics (January 2016); "Authoritarian Learning and Counterrevolution," in The Arab Uprisings Explained: New Contentious Politics in the Middle East, ed. Marc Lynch (Columbia University Press, 2014, with Reinoud Leenders); Middle East Authoritarianisms: Governance, Contestation, and Regime Resilience in Syria and Iran (Stanford University Press, 2013, co-edited with Reinoud Leenders); "Tracking the Arab Spring: Syria and Arab Authoritarianism," Journal of Democracy (October 2013); "Social Pacts and the Persistence of Authoritarianism in the Middle East," in Debating Arab Authoritarianism: Dynamics and Durability in Non-Democratic Regimes, ed. Oliver Schlumberger (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2007); “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” (Saban Center, Brookings Institution, November 2007); Networks of Privilege in the Middle East: The Politics of Economic Reform Revisited, edited volume (Palgrave Press, 2004); War, Institutions and Social Change in the Middle East, edited volume (University of California Press, 2000), and Authoritarianism in Syria: Institutions and Social Conflict, 1946-1970 (Cornell University Press, 1999).


The Conflict in Syria

Steven Heydemann, Smith's Janet Wright Ketcham 1953 Professor in Middle East Studies, discusses the Syrian uprising and the conflict dynamics that continue to unfold in Syria today.

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