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Lowell Lecture

Making Sense of ISIS and Sectarianism

Date & Time

Nov. 19, 2015 at 6 p.m. - 7:30 p.m.


Suffolk University
Somerset Building, Room 114
20 Somerset Street Boston, MA 02108
Driving Directions


David Siddhartha Patel Junior Research Fellow, Crown Center for Middle East Studies of Brandeis University

Presenting Organization



Current Affairs


Michael Pizziferri (, 617-542-8995 x 104)

After a political regime rapidly collapses leaving society in near total chaos, as happened in Iraq in 2003, what happens next? Why were Shiites more successful in limiting violence and providing public goods than Sunnis were in Iraq? Why have many women in the Middle East resorted to increasingly conservative modes of dress in recent decades? Many of the current conflicts in the Middle East have been attributed to sectarianism, a politicization of ethnic and religious identity. From the crisis in Iraq and Syria to the tension between Iran and Saudi Arabia, the struggle between Sunni and Shiites groups for dominance is tearing apart the region and shows no signs of abating; however, for all the religious discourse permeating the conflict, much of its roots are political, not religious. How does sectarianism fit into a larger narrative of the Middle East? How have governments manipulated sectarian differences? And finally, what is the U.S. doing about it?