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By Stephan Stetter (auth.)

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The consideration of how global geopolitical constellations relate to the Middle East (and how the Middle East shapes these constellations) has always played a prominent role in Middle East studies, both during and after the Cold War. While several studies have emphasized the agency of Middle East states vis-a`-vis the Cold War superpowers or, nowadays, the West, the more widespread assumption – in particular from Middle East scholars – is the observation of political-cultural dominance by the West.

22 Mirroring some of the arguments by John Burton on de-territorialized notions of ‘regionness’ introduced in Chapter 1, regions must consequently be understood as the temporary stabilization of spatial convergence between bordering processes across several functional spheres. Therefore, regions cannot be conceptualized in spatial terms, that is, characterized by a single corresponding border and territories demarcated by such borders, but rather as multi-dimensional, functional spheres which overlap, cross-cut and intersect each other.

With regard to Middle East politics, this becomes obvious in the somewhat problematic overlap between these two sides of code-oriented communications, on the one hand, and the relatively stable relegation of specific persons, groups or political programmes to either side of the distinction, on the other. More precisely, the ability to experiment with alternative persons, groups or political programmes (that is, the possibility of crossings and re-crossings between power and powerlessness) is severely hampered in many instances of political communications in and on the Middle East.

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