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Introducing Japan Project Director - Ahmed Abdrabou

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Ahmed Mohamed Abdrabou

How do you see your work fitting into a Korbel Institute for Comparative and Regional Studies (ICRS) with a focus on labor, democracy, and the global South?

In my research and teaching, I focus on comparative politics and area studies as I compare issues related to Democracy across different regions, especially the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region and East Asia. My work mainly investigates the political economy, the public policy-making process, and the security sector concerning the transition to Democracy in the global South, with some experiences driven from the North.

How does your positionality as scholar from Egypt with a PhD from a Japanese University shape your work as director of the Japan Program?

I grew up in a middle-class family in Cairo, Egypt. However, I was lucky enough to move to Japan at a young age to study for my master's and Ph.D. degrees at two different universities in Tokyo and Hokkaido (the northern main island of Japan). The transition from Egypt to Japan was an eye-opening experience to investigate and learn about the political economy of development and civil-military relations in East Asia. What I learned from this experience did help me to understand structural issues impeding democratization and sustaining authoritarianism in Egypt and the Middle East. As a director of the Japan Program, I build relations with NGOs, Media, Universities, and governmental institutions in the U.S., Japan, and the Middle East to better understand and shape the current transition in world politics.

What advice would you have to students, activists, and policymakers in terms of building solidarity between North and South?

One great faith I have in life is that miscommunication constitutes most of our daily communication and interaction as ordinary people. This miscommunication usually leads to our daily problems and stereotypes. It henceforth leads us to wrong decisions that may waste our time, resources, and efforts and downgrade the quality of life in our communities. This miscommunication is not only caused by speaking different languages or coming from different social and cultural backgrounds, but also it is caused by the need for more efforts to communicate, open sustainable dialogues, and assure each other. If I implement this in world politics, I claim that much of the problems we encounter at the global level as state and non-state actors can be attributed to this lack of communication, dialogue, and assurance between the North and the South. Therefore, I advise students, researchers, activists, and policymakers to establish dialogues to communicate and understand each other better. I will use the Japan Program as a platform for communication, understanding, and dialogue between the North and the South.