Monthly Archives: September 2011

Arab Spring consultancy with HICN

From the Microcon/HICN email list:

The Households in Conflict Network (HiCN) is seeking a Short-Term Consultant to prepare a project proposal on the social and political transformation in the Arab world. The research project will focus on determinants, forms and effects of individual participation in the recent protests across the region. We are looking for a consultant, available on short notice, to write a complete research proposal in collaboration with project’s international partners.

Successful candidates should have a master’s or doctoral degree in economics, political science, sociology or development studies. Excellent English, proven writing skills, grant writing experience, and the ability to work independently under tight deadlines are essential prerequisites. Interest in the MENA region, and a working knowledge of Arabic would be an advantage. Candidates should be available to work full-time on this project for 4 months from October 2011 till 5 February 2012. The remuneration is competitive, and the consultant must be available to work in Berlin. Applications from abroad are encouraged, but the successful candidate must be willing to relocate to Berlin for the period of the project.

If you are interested, please send a detailed CV, letter of motivation, reference letter (if available), and one recent writing sample in English by email to Mira Purska (mpurska [at] The deadline for applications is 26 September 2011. Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted for an interview.


Sabbagh on converging approaches to affirmative action in the US and France

United States and France [are] two countries…generally viewed as polar opposites as far as the political legitimacy and legal validity of race-based classifications are concerned. Based on an in-depth study of recent programs designed to increase the “diversity” of the student body in selective institutions of higher education, I will argue that French and U.S. policies are currently converging around the instrument of indirect (and often implicit) affirmative action.

[W]hat might be the causal mechanisms involved [in this convergence]? There is not even a shred of evidence that the policy convergence…is the result of a diffusion process. [Rather]…the rise of indirect affirmative action is linked to the widespread endorsement of the quintessentially political metagoal…“to integrate the national community by rubbing out in the [public’s] consciousness (…) a perception of racial difference”…that is, to reduce the salience of racial boundaries and eventually “eliminate race” as a principle of social organization. Because policies unavoidably have an expressive as well as an instrumental dimension, the very existence of an allocative scheme taking account of race in a transparent way is likely to jeopardize the “deracialization” that one is trying to bring about in the long run. So long as the criterion of race is seen to operate at the preliminary stage of identifying the participants in the interaction process, it remains unlikely that racial decategorization will occur.

From Daniel Sabbagh’s paper in the current issue of World Politics (gated link). For France, his primary evidence comes from recent experimentation with diversity-based admissions at Sciences Po. For the US, his evidence comes from a variety of examples where explicit race-based provisions, despite their constitutional admissability, have been eschewed in favor of measures that seem intentionally to obfuscate de facto race-based preferential treatment.

Affirmative action policies are a research interest of mine, and Sabbagh has done interesting work, though his focus is mostly on wealthy countries whereas mine is more on lower income and primarily post-conflict countries. Worth a look as well is his syllabus on comparing affirmative action policies (link).