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Arab Spring

Arab Spring: Uprisings, Powers, Interventions

Edited by Kjetil Fosshagen
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 122
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  • Book Info
    Arab Spring
    Book Description:

    The events of the Arab Spring presented a dramatic reconstitution of politics and the public sphere through their aesthetic and performative uses of public space. Mass demonstrations have become a new global political form, grounded in the localization of globalizing processes, institutions, and relationships. This volume delves beneath the seemingly chaotic nature of events to explore the structural dynamics underpinning popular resistance and their support or suppression. It moves beyond what has usually been defined as Arab Spring nations to include critical views on Bahrain, the Palestinian territories, and Turkey. The research and analysis presented explores not just the immediate protests, but also the historical realization, appropriation, and even institutionalization of these critical voices, as well as the role of international criminal law and legal exceptionalism in authorizing humanitarian interventions. Above all, it questions whether the revolutions have since been hijacked and the broad popular uprisings already overrun, suppressed, or usurped by the upper classes.

    eISBN: 978-1-78238-466-3
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Introduction: The Arab Spring—Revolution or 1848 Reaction?
    (pp. 1-20)
    Kjetil Fosshagen

    The first crucial question about the so-called Arab Spring revolutions asks whether they can be considered social revolutions in the historical and political sense, in that they promised and introduced a radically new social order. This definitional problem is compounded by the fact that the word ‘revolution’ has become part of everyday popular discourse about change. The second question asks whether there is a structure of social forces underneath the apparent chaos of the Arab Spring uprisings and their aftermath. Liberal discourse in the West hailed the Arab Spring as revolutionary within the idealistic scenario of despotism versus democracy. The...

  4. Tahrir as Heterotopia: Spaces and Aesthetics of the Egyptian Revolution
    (pp. 21-32)
    Paola Abenante

    Many scholars have criticized the exclusive focus on Tahrir as the ultimate space of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 (see Sowers and Toensing 2012). They argue that the 18 days of Tahrir were made possible by the local protests simultaneously taking place in other towns, provinces, and parts of Cairo itself that outbalanced the power relation between Mubarak’s police forces and the masses. Other works have furthermore emphasized that Egyptian street protests started at least a decade ago and that the Tahrir protests thus did not come out of the blue (Bayat 2012; El-Ghobashy 2012). Anthropologists have suggested that an...

  5. Beyond the Arab Spring: The Aesthetics and Poetics of Popular Revolt and Protest, 2010–2012
    (pp. 33-46)
    Pnina Werbner, Martin Webb and Kathryn Spellman-Poots

    The Arab Spring uprisings shook the world. In the flood of newspaper articles, media documentaries, online blogs, YouTube postings, and scholarly articles that followed the rebellions and worldwide protests in 2011–2012, there is however a remarkable feature of the protests that has remained mostly unrecognized, untheorized, and certainly not analyzed comparatively.¹ This was the salient presence of images, songs, videos, humor, satire, and dramatic performances in the uprisings. Although visual images drawn from the protests were repeatedly deployed to adorn media documentaries or publications, no serious scholarly attempt has yet been made to analyze their means of production and...

  6. Emergency Law and Hypergovernance: Human Rights and Regime Change in the Arab Spring
    (pp. 47-64)
    Michael Humphrey

    The Arab Spring appeared suddenly as a globally mediated event triggered by the tragic suicide in December 2010 by self-immolation of Mohamed Bouazizi, a street trader in Tunis. The victim embodied the fate of a generation lacking economic opportunities, suffering humiliation at the hands of corrupt officials, experiencing repression in the name of the ‘war on terror’, and unable to escape through emigration to Europe because of racism (Islamophobia) and economic crisis. Bouazizi’s suicide symbolized an existential crisis that resonated with crowds first in Tunisia, then in Egypt, Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen, Libya, and finally Syria.

    In all of these cases,...

  7. The Promises and Limitations of Economic Protests in the West Bank
    (pp. 65-80)
    Sobhi Samour

    The revolutionary spark ignited in Sidi Bouzid in December 2010 spread like wildfire throughout the Arab world. Less than four weeks after sustained protests led to the overthrow of Tunisia’s president, Ben Ali, Egyptian protestors succeeded in forcing their own president, Mubarak, to resign. Accustomed to, in Lenin’s words, ‘decades where nothing happens’, the entire region was suddenly living through ‘weeks where decades happen’ and where everything seemed possible. For Palestinians in particular, these tumultuos weeks were like an echo of a dusty past that could now spell a more hopeful future.

    Even prior to the 1947–1948 Arab-Israeli war...

  8. Stability or Democracy? The Failed Uprising in Bahrain and the Battle for the International Agenda
    (pp. 81-94)
    Thomas Fibiger

    Among the unsuccessful uprisings for political reform in the so-called Arab Spring is that of Bahrain. At the same time, the outside world has heard relatively little of what is going on in Bahrain when compared with other Arab countries such as Egypt, Libya, Syria, and Tunisia. These two aspects—the lack of success and the lack of international press—are interlinked. Judged by media coverage, it may seem that Bahrain has been neglected by the international community. Yet seen from the perspective of international power politics, there is a lot of interest in Bahrain. This interest, however, prioritizes stability...

  9. The Turkish Model for the Arab Spring: The Corporate Moralist State
    (pp. 95-112)
    Kjetil Fosshagen

    Despite recent protests and clashes in Turkey, which were compared by some commentators to Arab Spring uprisings, Turkey has been proposed as the ideal model for future democratic Arab states. This suggestion has come from both Arab and Western liberal commentators and politicians, and most notably from the US administration. To understand why, we need to go beneath the rhetoric of liberal democratic values to look at how it conceals a deeper reconfiguration of global power dynamics that is currently creating certain kinds of idealizations of good governance, with Turkey in particular being promoted as a model. The emergence of...

  10. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 113-115)