Power and legitimacy
While the prevailing confrontation between the authoritarian state and the Islamist opposition in many parts of the Arab region is racking the political sphere today, several research projects at the OIB are looking into the makings of political order and institutional authority from a historical perspective. The uneasy balance between religious, or scholarly authority more generally, and the state and its agencies appears to be an issue that has continuously occupied authors and political actors over time. Scholarly authors engaged in assessing urgent concerns of their time, or positioning themselves in the context of political matters provides evidence of the extensive presence of the political sphere in intellectual history. Our research endeavors shed light on the region’s experience in the negotiation of policies and reflect upon the principles of political power and the role of belief systems. Informed by distinct contexts and the particular dynamics of their research fields, these studies deal with the normative, conceptual, and practical aspects of establishing authority and political rule, including the use of legitimizing devices. This domain of study also invites one to explore echoes of the past in present-day ideas and conflicts and offers a basis from which we may evaluate the evolution and processes of transformation, and ideological assertions of continuity.