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GIGA Researcher Awarded Dissertation Prize for Analysis of Opposition Cooperation in Authoritarian States

Middle East expert Jens Heibach has won the 2017 DAVO Dissertation Prize for his PhD thesis on an opposition alliance in Yemen.

In his work at the GIGA, Jens Heibach studies political opposition in authoritarian regimes, political Islam, and international relations in the Persian Gulf. He has now been awarded the Middle East Studies Association’s (DAVO) dissertation prize for his PhD thesis, “Oppositional Cooperation under Authoritarianism – The Case of the Joint Meeting Parties in Yemen.” The award recognises the best German- or English-language dissertation in the area of contemporary Middle East research submitted to a university by a DAVO member.

In his dissertation, Jens Heibach investigates fundamental questions regarding opposition cooperation in authoritarian regimes, using the example of Yemen’s Joint Meeting Parties (JMP). Following a process of mutual rapprochement, the opposition alliance – comprised of several political parties which are highly ideologically, regionally, and confessionally diverse – contributed significantly to the overthrow of the Yemeni regime in 2011.

For his dissertation, Heibach examined JMP statements, statutes, programmes, and pamphlets; reviewed media reports and secondary literature; and conducted interviews. Based on this work, he analysed the JMP’s domestic and international relations and highlighted factors that have influenced the alliance’s dynamics over the decades.

The prize was awarded as part of the twenty-fourth international DAVO congress in Jena. “With his dissertation, Jens Heibach provides not only a new means of tackling the issue of political systems’ transformation in the Middle East, but also, more generally, a new approach to examining the transformation of authoritarian regimes,” emphasised Günter Meyer, head of the Center for Research on the Arab World (CERAW), in his speech. “This is the extraordinary scholarly feature of this extremely innovative, original thesis, which puts forward numerous arguments.”

This is the third prize to be awarded to a GIGA scholar this year.

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