Bread, Freedom & Social Justice: Colonialism’s Effect on Democratization in the Arab World

Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Political Science and International Studies

Department or Program Chair

Alison Howard, MA

First Reader

Gigi Gokcek, PhD


According to the Freedom House Index, 5% of the 420 million people who reside in the Middle East and North Africa are truly free. Additionally, the region’s economy, literacy and gender gap are at abysmal rates, and a lack of human rights and personal freedoms are quite common. What can explain the tumultuous and authoritarian political climate of the Middle East and North African region? How has past and present Western interference hindered progress? This paper argues that Arab countries have been unable to create sustainable and successful political infrastructures due to years of colonialism, imperialism and further Western involvement. This argument is supported with existing scholarship on the history of colonialism, and its impact on the development of Arab states. Moreover, this study explores the process of attempted democratization in the region.

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