Tarek Masoud

Tarek MasoudProfessor Tarek Masoud

Faculty Director, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Islamic Studies Program
Chair, Middle East Initiative
Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations
Harvard Kennedy School of Government


Tarek Masoud is a Professor of Public Policy and the Sultan of Oman Professor of International Relations at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, where he is also Faculty Chair of the Middle East Initiative. His research focuses on political development in Arabic-speaking and Muslim-majority countries. He is the author of Counting Islam: Religion, Class, and Elections in Egypt (Cambridge University Press, 2014), of The Arab Spring: Pathways of Repression and Reform with Jason Brownlee and Andrew Reynolds (Oxford University Press, 2015), as well as of several articles and book chapters. He is a 2009 Carnegie Scholar, a trustee of the American University in Cairo, a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Democracy, and the recipient of grants from the National Science Foundation and the Paul and Daisy Soros foundation, among others. He holds an AB from Brown and a Ph.D from Yale, both in political science.

HKS Profile Tarek Masoud




Tarek Masoud. 1/2015. “Has The Door Closed on Arab Democracy?” Journal of Democracy, 26, 1, Pp. 74-87. Publisher's VersionAbstract
In the aftermath of the Arab Spring, democracy in the Arab world seems farther away today than at any point in the last 25 years, leaving one to conclude that the answer to the question posed in this special anniversary issue of the Journal—“Is Democracy in Decline?”—is, at least in the case of the Arab world, a resounding, even deafening, yes. If democracy is to ever arrive in the region, it will likely be through an evolutionary and elite-driven process.
Tarek Masoud. 6/2014. Counting Islam: Religion, Class, and Elections in Egypt. Cambridge University Press. Publisher's VersionAbstract
Why does Islam seem to dominate Egyptian politics, especially when the country's endemic poverty and deep economic inequality would seem to render it promising terrain for a politics of radical redistribution rather than one of religious conservativism? This book argues that the answer lies not in the political unsophistication of voters, the subordination of economic interests to spiritual ones, or the ineptitude of secular and leftist politicians, but in organizational and social factors that shape the opportunities of parties in authoritarian and democratizing systems to reach potential voters. Tracing the performance of Islamists and their rivals in Egyptian elections over the course of almost forty years, this book not only explains why Islamists win elections, but illuminates the possibilities for the emergence in Egypt of the kind of political pluralism that is at the heart of what we expect from democracy.