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Alice Wilson

Revisiting 'the margins' as an illuminating conceptual space analogous to, yet distinct from, the exception, this article explores the Arab Spring from its margins to highlight 'silencing effects' that, if they underpin the problematic notions of the Arab Spring and Arab exceptionalism, assume spectacular dimensions at the margins, namely, the 'disappearance' of an uprising. The disputed territory of Western Sahara, partially annexed by Morocco since 1975, saw an unprecedented uprising in October-November 2010. Annexed Western Sahara's uprising narrowly preceded Tunisia's, conventionally recognized as the first of the Arab Spring. Despite Sahrawis' perceptions of similarities between their uprising and the Arab Spring, Western Sahara's uprising is overlooked in most analyses of the Arab Spring. 'Silencing effects' obscure these similarities and, ultimately, the uprising itself.

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Fighting Fire with Fire

Resistance to Transitional Justice in Bahrain

Ciara O’Loughlin

protests ( BBC News 2011b ). Is Bahrain Really a Case Study of Transitional Justice? Despite joining the “Arab Spring club” on 14 February 2011, Bahrain is rarely included in considerations of transitional justice in the Middle East. Bahrain’s protesters

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Debate

Religion and Revolution

Mark Juergensmeyer, Sidharthan Maunaguru, Jonathan Spencer, and Charles Lindholm

For some decades, the religious rebellion of the late-twentieth and early-twenty-first centuries was characterized by political violence, terrorism, and strident rhetoric. Then in 2011, the events collectively known as Arab Spring seemed to offer a new model: mass movements leading to democratic reform and electoral change. The elections of 2012 swept religious parties and leadership into office in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. Is this the face of the future of religious rebellion around the world?

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Transformative cities

A response to Narotzky, Collins, and Bertho

Ida Susser and Stéphane Tonnelat

When our article was first written, the Occupy movement was in full swing and we were clearly in optimistic mode. However, as all studies of social movements have shown, from the antiapartheid struggles of South Africa to the rebellious nineteenth century in France or Britain, the road of mobilization is never straightforward. Nor did we assume that “Occupy” in the United States or even the popular rebellions of the Arab Spring would lead to a blossoming of democratic nations. We take these understandings from writers such as Eric Hobsbawm (1996), who understood the French Revolution and the British industrial revolution as complementary processes that set the stage for the imperfect and unequal nation-states of France and Britain today. In South Africa (to pick one historic moment), after the high school students who took to the streets in protest in Soweto were mowed down by South African army tanks, the streets were virtually quiescent for a decade. However, over 40 years of fascism in South Africa, the 1950s bus boycotts, the 1960s Sharpeville massacre, the famous trials of Mandela and others, the Soweto school children, and finally the union mobilization in a United Front and international sanctions led to the end of apartheid. But, as we are all now aware, these battles did not end inequality or neoliberalism.

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Aspiring to alterpolitics

Anthropology, radical theory, and social movements

Riccardo Ciavolella and Stefano Boni

This theme section inquires into the contribution of political anthropology to radical theories, social imagination, and practices underlying political “alternatives”, which we propose to call “alterpolitics”. The issue of an alternative to contemporary powers in globalization is a central topic in social movements and radical debates. This sense of possibility for political alternatives is associated with the desertion of the belief in “the end of history”: the current economic crisis and the decline of Western hegemony presumably announce a radical transformation of the neoliberal world, opening space to alternatives. Actually, the reconfiguration of twentieth-century capitalism is associated with a growing mistrust of political institutions, the crisis being “organic”, in the Gramscian sense (Gramsci 1975). Recent social movements and insurrections around the world—from the “colored revolutions” in Central Asia to the Spanish indignados, the US Occupy movement, the Arab Spring, uprisings in Bosnia—have raised the issue of alternatives as a reaction to the incapacity of capitalist political institutions—from electoral democracy to dictatorships—to deal with people’s problems and meet their aspirations for emancipation and a better future.

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Reforming universities in the Middle East

Trends and contestations from Egypt and Jordan

Daniele Cantini

This article addresses the core-periphery nexus by looking at some of the reform packages proposed in the 2000s in these two pivotal countries in the Middle East, Egypt and Jordan, as well as the resistances they generated. These reform packages include internationalisation and privatisation policies, as well as World Bank–sponsored programmes intended to enhance the higher education sector. These programmes are marked by a high degree of isomorphism with global trends: they belong to an unquestioned centre, with peripheries as receiving points of policies elaborated elsewhere. In this article, I examine some of the resistances they were met with in Egypt and Jordan and show how their translations were shaped by the logics of the local contexts so that they were rarely implemented. Looking at post–Arab Spring developments, the article reflects on the continuity of reform packages amidst political turmoil, and the ways in which these reforms are altering or reinforcing processes of peripheralisation.

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Cutting the Face

Kinship, State and Social Media Conflict in Networked Jordan

Geoffrey Hughes

. In the final section, I argue that the riotous efflorescence of online journalism and new media spaces that coincided with the ‘Arab Spring’ is quickly being absorbed back into what Jordanians call ‘the security apparatus’. Subject to fierce

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Conjuring “the people”

The 2013 Babylution protests and desire for political transformation in postwar Bosnia-Herzegovina

Larisa Kurtović

popular will have appeared most recently in the context of the Arab Spring, the rise of Podemos in Spain and SYRIZA in Greece, and in the famous Occupy Wall Street mantra, “We are the 99%.” In their effort to re-imagine a leftist populism, these movements

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Introduction

Marxian anthropology resurgent

Patrick Neveling and Luisa Steur

beaten down by riot police forces ( Panimbang and Mufakhir 2018 ). Beyond this, the so-called Arab Spring uprisings across North Africa and the Middle East were either quashed in similar ways—in Bahrain, for example—or otherwise instrumentalized by

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Commoning in New York City, Barcelona, and Paris

Notes and observations from the field

Ida Susser

throughout Spain by groups often called the indignados , following, although not necessarily similar to, the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt in January 2011 ( Van de Velde 2011 ). Greece followed soon after in the takeover of Syntagma Square. Occupy Wall