Dr. Matt Buehler                                                   Assistant Professor - Department of Political Science - University of Tennessee



Ahlan wa Sahlan & Greetings!


I am currently a 2017 research fellow at the Middle East Initiative of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  I am also an assistant professor of political science at the University of Tennessee, where I research and teach comparative politics of the Middle East and North Africa.  Additionally, I serve as a Global Security Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Center for Public Policy. My research focuses on democratization and authoritarianism in the Arab world, but it has expanded to include diverse topics like legal reform, nuclear nonproliferation, and survey research in this region.  My projects use original, Arabic-based research utilizing qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods.


My peer-reviewed research has been published in generalist political science journals, such as Political Research Quarterly, and also journals specialized in the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, like Mediterranean Politics and British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies. I currently serve as reviews editor on the editorial board of one Middle East journal, Mediterranean Politics.  My book manuscript, Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa, is currently under contract with the Middle East politics book series of Syracuse University Press.  It will appear in print in Fall 2018.




On this website, find information about my teaching, research, and book manuscript, Why Alliances Fail.  Built on nearly two years of fieldwork in North Africa, the book manuscript elucidates the conditions under which opposition parties build stable, enduring alliances to contest authoritarian regimes, marshaling evidence from coalitions between Islamists and leftists. While Islamists and leftists forged a solid alliance in Tunisia, which supported democratization, similar pacts in Morocco and Mauritania collapsed, helping to reinforce authoritarianism.  Previously, I was a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for International and Regional Studies at Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Qatar.


Why Alliances Fail is based off of original qualitative and quantitative evidence.  I conducted over 200 interviews in Arabic with Islamist and leftist politicians, including 16 former or current government ministers in Tunisia, Morocco, and Mauritania. These interviews included current Moroccan Prime Minister Abdelilah Benkirane, the first Islamist head of state in that country's history.


To support my book's argument, I have also constructed original datasets of previously unreleased candidate-level statistics that examine the variables broadly correlated with the process of co-optation.  Specifically, I look at instances of opposition politicians who are co-opted into pro-regime, loyalist parties.


In addition to my book manuscript, I have begun several new article projects.  They draw upon original public opinion polls, survey experiments, and archive-based data collection in Morocco and Tunisia. One project examines public perceptions of bribery and informal influence in the Moroccan judiciary. Another project uses a survey experiment to evaluate whether Moroccans perceive a hypothetical threat from Israel, Iran, or another Arab state as a stronger impetus for nuclear weaponization and other aggressive nuclear strategies. The third project uses Arabic archival research in Tunisia’s national archives to examine an original dataset on the social backgrounds of over 300 key elite ministers who constituted Tunisian dictators’ internal coalitions of support between decolonization, in 1956, and regime collapse, in 2011. A fourth project deploys an original survey in Morocco to examine varying attitudes of prejudice and tolerance toward Arab and African migrants and refugees who have fled to this country.


Outside of this research, I served as an election observer with the Carter Center for the 2011 Tunisian elections, which formed an assembly to write the country's post-revolution constitution. I was also a Clinton Scholar at the American University of Dubai, United Arab Emirates in the Persian Gulf through a program financed by the William Jefferson Clinton Presidential Foundation.


I have been using Arabic professionally since 2009, including in fieldwork interviews and as an English-Arabic translator at Morocco’s second-largest circulating Arabic newspaper, as-Sabah. My formal classroom studies in Arabic extended over six years, including intensive immersion training at the University of Damascus, Syria in 2006-2007. In 2007, 2009, and 2011, I received an advanced-high rating in Modern Standard Arabic from the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Recently, I delivered an Arabic lecture at King Hassan II University in Morocco on population-based survey experiments.


I have researched, studied Arabic, and traveled in the following countries of the Middle East: Jordan, Egypt, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Tunisia, Turkey, and the United Arab Emirates.


I have received specialized training in qualitative, quantitative, and experimental methods.  I attended methodology training camps including the Institute for Qualitative and Multi-Method Research at Syracuse University and the Winter Experimental Social Sciences Institute at New York University-Abu Dhabi.


Research for my book has been supported by the Boren Graduate Fellowship, American Institute for Maghrib Studies, the Project on Middle East Political Science, as well as my home universities.



 Download Curriculum Vitae





Contact me at mbuehle2@utk.edu

 (503) 341-4871