Dr. Matt Buehler is Chair of Middle East Studies at the University of Tennessee. He is also an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, and a Senior Global Security Fellow at the Howard H. Baker Jr. School for Public Policy and Public Affairs. He served as Vice Chair of the American Political Science Association’s Middle East and North Africa section from 2020 to 2022. Buehler's research area is comparative and international politics of the Middle East and North Africa. He has been traveling regularly to the Arab world since 2006, completing over five years of fieldwork and Arabic training in the region. Buehler has held research fellowships at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government’s Middle East Initiative in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and also Georgetown University in Qatar’s Center for International and Regional Studies at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service.
As Chair of Middle East Studies, Dr. Buehler organized a 215-person formal fundraiser—the Middle East Gala—at the Cherokee Country Club in 2023 with the Arab American Club of Knoxville (AACK). The gala aimed to increase the size of the AACK’s endowment at the University of Tennessee, first created in 2018, to fund travel scholarships for undergraduate or graduate students to go to Arab countries for study abroad, research, Arabic study, archeological digs, and other educational activities. Dr. Buehler and the AACK succeeded in increasing the endowment from $25,000 to around $120,000. The endowment now provides in perpetuity two annual $2000 student travel scholarships.
Buehler is the author of Why Alliances Fail: Islamist and Leftist Coalitions in North Africa (Syracuse University Press, 2018). In his book, Buehler explores the conditions under which stable, enduring coalitions are built to contest authoritarian regimes, marshaling evidence from pacts between North Africa’s Islamists and leftists. Why Alliances Fail received the 2019 SERMEISS (Southeast Regional Middle East and Islamic Studies Society) book prize, which “recognizes outstanding scholarship in Middle Eastern or Islamic studies in any academic discipline in the social sciences or humanities from any time period.” The book has been reviewed in Perspectives on Politics, Politics and Religion, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Journal of North African Studies, Mediterranean Politics, and Revista de Estudios Internacionales Mediterráneos. In 2018, Buehler received an Early Career Excellence in Research and Creative Achievement Award from the University of Tennessee, an award given annually to two junior faculty members across all disciplines.
Primarily a scholar of North African politics and society, Buehler’s research has focused on the topics of democratization, authoritarianism, Islamist parties, public opinion research, nuclear nonproliferation, and migration. Buehler's research has appeared in generalist political science journals, like International Studies Quarterly and Political Research Quarterly, and also journals specialized in Middle East politics. He serves as editor of the peer-reviewed journal Mediterranean Politics and Edinburgh Studies of the Maghreb, an Edinburgh University Press book series. He speaks Arabic with professional fluency, and studied it primarily at the University of Damascus, Syria. He has lived and researched in numerous Arab countries, including Morocco, Tunisia, Mauritania, Syria, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates. He has traveled to other countries of the Middle East such as Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait, and Turkey. He received his doctorate in government from the University of Texas at Austin.