Melina Dunham was a Summer Intern with the World Affairs Council. She is a San Francisco native studying Political Science as a junior at Barnard College in New York. In her post below, Milena recaps the Council’s The Arab Spring: Where are we today? evening discussion and book-signing event.
On Monday, July 25th, the Council hosted a discussion and book signing with Shelly Culbertson, Policy Analyst at the RAND Corporation and author of The Fires of Spring: A Post-Arab Spring Journey Through the Turbulent New Middle East. The event, held at City of Asylum’s Alphabet City Tent, sought to answer the question: Where are we today with the Arab Spring?
Ms. Culbertson shared her professional and travel experiences in the region, discussed her writing process, and explained three important changing trends post-Arab Spring: government accountability, women’s rights and roles, and Islam. By tackling relevant regional social and structural questions on a country-by-country basis, Ms. Culbertson brought to light how varied the experiences of the Arab Spring were, and how wide-ranging the transitions and what she referred to as “experiments with democracy” have been.
Through the insightful presentation and discussion, the audience and Ms. Culbertson addressed the need to be critical of discussing the region under an all-encompassing and homogenous umbrella of “the Arab World.” She also emphasized the importance of refocusing our engagement and support in the region in a variety of efforts and through different avenues. The rich conversation ended on the hopeful note that while progress has been made since the Arab Spring, countries in the Middle East will continue to move through different phases, and there is much more to be done, locally and internationally.