The Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies and Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies at the University of Michigan are pleased to welcome Timur Kuran, Gorter Family Professor of Islamic Studies at Duke University, for a lecture titled “Institutional Roots of Authoritarian Rule in the Middle East: The Waqf as Obstacle to Democratization.” Kuran will look at the waqf, a religious trust under Islamic law, and explore how it fostered authoritarian rule and limited democratic development even though it had potential to be an outlet for civil society and political participation.

Professor Kuran is a professor of economics and political science. His research focuses on social change, including the evolution of preferences and institutions. His most recent book, The Long Divergence: How Islamic Law Held Back the Middle East (Princeton University Press, 2011), addresses the role that Islamic institutions played in the economic rise of the Middle East and, subsequently, in the institutional stagnation that accompanied the region’s slip into underdevelopment.

PLACE: 1636 International Institute, 1080 S. University Ave., Ann Arbor

SPONSORS: Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies, Center for Middle Eastern and North African Studies


The Ronald and Eileen Weiser Center for Europe and Eurasia (WCEE) supports faculty and student research, teaching, collaboration, and public engagement in studying the institutions, cultures, and histories of these regions. WCEE is housed in the University of Michigan International Institute with the Center for European Studies (CES); the Center for Russian, East European, & Eurasian Studies (CREES); and the Weiser Center for Emerging Democracies (WCED). Named in honor of Ronald and Eileen Weiser and inspired by their time in Slovakia during Ambassador Weiser’s service as U.S. ambassador from 2001-04, WCEE began operations in September 2008. For more information, visit