Nathan J. Brown

Nonresident Senior Fellow
Middle East Program

Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics.

Nathan J. Brown, a professor of political science and international affairs at George Washington University, is a distinguished scholar and author of six well-received books on Arab politics. Brown brings his special expertise on Islamist movements, Egyptian politics, Palestinian politics, and Arab law and constitutionalism to Carnegie. Brown’s latest book, Arguing Islam After the Revival of Arab Politics, was published by Oxford University Press in 2016, and his previous book, When Victory Is Not an Option: Islamist Movements in Arab Politics, was published by Cornell University Press in early 2012. His current work focuses on religion, law, and politics in the Arab world.

In 2013, Brown was named a Guggenheim Fellow; four years earlier, he was named a Carnegie scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. For the 2009–2010 academic year, he was a fellow at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. In addition to his academic work, Brown serves on the board of trustees at the American University in Cairo. He has previously served as an advisor for the committee drafting the Palestinian constitution, USAID, the United Nations Development Program, and several NGOs. For 2013-2015 he is president of the Middle East Studies Association, the academic association for scholars studying the region.

Brown is the author of Between Religion and Politics (with Amr Hamzawy, Carnegie 2010); Resuming Arab Palestine (University of California Press, 2003); Constitutions in a Non-Constitutional World: Arab Basic Laws and Prospects for Accountable Government (SUNY Press, 2001); and The Rule of Law in the Arab World: Courts in Egypt and the Arab States of the Gulf (Cambridge University Press, 1997). He also edited The Dynamics of Democratization  (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012).

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  • It’s Not About Civil War

    It’s Not About Civil War

    Egypt today is not on the brink of civil war. But neither is it engaged in any transition to a stable democratic system.

  • The Battle over Egypt’s Judiciary

    The Battle over Egypt’s Judiciary

    The Muslim Brotherhood has locked horns in a struggle with country's judiciary that veers between full confrontation and guarded accommodation.

  • Still Fighting the Last War? Egypt's Judges after the Revolution

    Still Fighting the Last War? Egypt's Judges after the Revolution

    The judiciary’s struggles are likely to feature unexpected iterations of the older concerns over autonomy and authority.

  • Next Steps in Egypt's Transition

    Voter approval of constitutional amendments in Egypt provides a strong boost to the military-led transition process, however the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has yet to announce the schedule of elections or clarify the electoral procedures that will govern them.

    • August 26, 2008

    Palestine's Prime Minister: A New Roadmap for Arab Governance?

    On April 29, 2003 Mahmud Abbas (widely known as Abu Mazen) won a vote of confidence from the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) to serve as the first prime minister of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). Beyond its much-discussed implications for a revived Israeli-Palestinian peace process, this step could also mark a departure in Arab governance.

    • August 25, 2008

    Drafting Islam Into the Iraqi Constitution

    On July 15, 2003, the American administrator of Iraq, L. Paul Bremer III, finally articulated a clear benchmark for ending the Coalition Provisional Authority's administration of Iraq: the governing council's promulgation of a democratic constitution and the subsequent holding of national elections. Bremer has said he expects the constitution writing process to take about six to eight months.

  • Intense Wrangling Precedes Palestinian Elections

    On July 17, 2005, Palestinians are scheduled to elect a new parliament. The stakes are enormously high, especially as groups that sat out the 1996 parliamentary election—notably Hamas but also smaller factions—will field candidates. Various parties have been squabbling over the electoral rules.

  • The Fate of CPA Orders in Iraq after June 30

    When the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) dissolves on June 30, it will leave behind a series of enactments designed to remake significant parts of the Iraqi legal order. While the juridical and political basis for the CPA's enactments is shaky, any succeeding Iraqi authority is likely to hesitate before repealing them wholesale.

    • August 20, 2008

    Arab Judicial Reform: Bold Visions, Few Achievements

    Donors tend to focus on non-controversial technical issues when promoting the rule of law abroad. In sharp contrast, judicial reformers in the Arab world have plunged into the political aspects of judicial reform far more enthusiastically. Their zeal, however, has not yet translated into success.

  • Hamas in Power

    In recent decades a number of democratic transitions began when an authoritarian government agreed to elections under rules it had designed to ensure its continued hold on power—and then lost. In the Philippines in 1985, Chile in 1988, Poland in 1989, and Yugoslavia in 2000, rulers ceded power, gracefully or not, after a surprising defeat at the polls.


PhD, MA, Princeton University
BA, University of Chicago

  • Arabic
  • English

Sada is an online journal rooted in Carnegie’s Middle East Program that seeks to foster and enrich debate about key political, economic, and social issues in the Arab world and provides a venue for new and established voices to deliver reflective analysis on these issues.

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