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This edited volume brings together global perspectives on twenty-first century Arab revolutions to theoretically and methodologically link these contemporary uprisings to resistance and protest movements worldwide, above all in the Americas. In their analyses of these transformations, the international contributors engage in an exploration of a variety of themes such as social movements and cultures of resistance, geopolitical economics, civic virtue, identity building, human rights, and foreign economic and political influence. What is the historical significance of these revolutions? What are the implications beyond the Middle East? And how are struggles in other regions of the world being influenced by these events? These heretofore largely unanswered questions are addressed in this collection, developed from presentations at a 2013 international conference on the “Arab Revolutions and Beyond” at York University, Toronto, Canada.



Chapter 1. Introduction

This book comes at an important juncture of time and provides a critical scholarly intervention that highlights the multifaceted, complex, and contradictory dimensions of the unprecedented political, social, and economic struggles that are transforming the Middle East and other parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas. Contributions by authors from different parts of the world engage in an exploration and analysis of a variety of themes, including the following: the concept of dignity; social movements; cultures of resistance; geo-political economy; capital, state, and internationalization; reverberations beyond the Middle East, especially in the Americas. It is precisely the endeavour to theoretically and methodologically link the Arab Revolutions to resistance and protests movements in other part of the world, the spatial notion of Beyond, that makes this project different and potentially appealing to an international audience beyond the Middle East.
Sabah Alnasseri

Chapter 2. The Geopolitical Economy of the Arab Revolutions

One of the least appreciated aspects of the Arab Revolutions that opened the second decade of the twenty-first century was that they toppled the most enduring dictatorships sponsored by the USA in a region of immense strategic importance to it, the most pre-eminent among them, Egypt, also the most populous Arab nation. However, a world inured to regarding the USA as more or less omnipotent has been slow to register this and to work out its implications for the complex and still-unfolding fate of the revolutions and what they herald for the world order. This only compounds the problem of understanding contemporary developments in a region already legendary for the complexity of its politics and political economy, and, we may add, its geopolitics and geopolitical economy.
Radhika Desai

Chapter 3. ‘Dignity’ as Glocal Civic Virtue: Redefining Democracy Through Cosmopolitics in the Era of Neoliberal Governmentality

We will deal with ‘dignity’ as a priority within the conceptual categories of civic virtue in order to redefine democracy and social activism in the era of neoliberal governmentality. In order to understand the interaction of social values with neoliberal governmentality on both the political and economic levels we agree that we need to pay attention to people’s voices and priorities coming from ‘below’. This ‘from below’ perspective since the crisis of neoliberalism, or as a product of it, leads us to focus on social movements and people’s redraw of their consent to power and elites, in local context but with global content.
Fotini Tsibiridou, Michalis Bartsidis

Chapter 4. The Arab Revolutions of 2011 and Iran 2009: Identities and Differences

The Arab revolutions ran deeper than the Iranian upheaval of 2009, mobilizing key elements of the poor and the working classes. The people also called directly not for reform, but for the outright overthrow of their despotic rulers. These two factors may help to explain why the Arab revolutions managed to overthrow three governments, while the Iranian upheaval was ultimately beaten back. That said, the Iranian upheaval contained several elements, especially its involvement of women that placed it at a higher level than the Arab revolutions. Yet, the Arab revolutions, not the Green Movement, marked a real historical turning point, not only for the region, but also for the world. At the same time, it could be noted, that the two largest mass mobilizations for democracy and progressive politics anywhere in the world since the Great Recession of 2007 have both taken place in the MENA region.
Kevin B. Anderson

Chapter 5. Human Rights from Below and International Poverty Law: Comparative Aspects of the Arab Spring and the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, and Their Lessons for Latin America and Mexico

This chapter will explore the extent to which hegemonic versions of human rights discourse and practices undermine contemporary struggles for social transformation in the Global South, and the potential contributions counter-hegemonic paradigms can make in this context. My emphasis will be on comparative aspects of the Arab and Latin American “Springs,” and on the extent to which such processes—for example, the revolutions in Egypt and Tunisia and “equivalent” processes in Latin American contexts such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, where old regimes have been transformed, and Mexico, where they persist despite the achievements and efforts of movements such as the Zapatistas—have influenced and inspired each other in their critical approaches to dominant paradigms of human rights. This will include a more focused comparative exploration of convergences and divergences between the cases of Egypt and Mexico.
Camilo Pérez-Bustillo

Chapter 6. Public Space Without Demands: Understanding Traveling Theory and Practice in Occupy and Transnational Protests

I will examine the transnational connections from the perspective of local subtexts mediating the eventual inspiration that the Arab revolutions had on the Occupy movement. This intervention requires decentering the consideration of diffusion away from the time frame of more visibility of the protests, and thus problematizing the idea of a transnational moment of radical politics. Even though the singularity of a moment of democratic opening is not reducible to the script of institutional politics, it is also not detached from local histories, which themselves expose particular relations across time and space, and are unleashed in the present through not only memories but also silences.
Martha Balaguera Cuervo

Chapter 7. Class, State, and the Egyptian Revolution

I will address the political fissure of 2010 and the unravelling crisis of the Egyptian state since then, including how this shows itself in the interface between the Islamists, the military, the comprador bourgeoisie, the judiciary, the neoliberal technocrats, and the neo-national bourgeoisie as they confront the diverse and even conflicting popular struggles that have continued to take place. The chapter will give some assessment of how fragile the institutional materiality of the state is today in light of the current array of class forces in play. This background will take us to the current conjuncture, which is marked by the continuing effects of the political fissure of 2010 and ongoing neoliberal structures and practices while yet explaining class struggles inside and outside the state.
Sabah Alnasseri

Chapter 8. A War of Position in Palestine

This chapter, first, outlines the theoretical backdrop that informed Gramsci’s terminology of (a) a war of manoeuvre and (b) a war of position. Second, it analyses whether these terms can be applied to the Palestinian case study, given its status as a semi-colonized territory under the occupation of a foreign power. Third, it briefly examines the history of Palestinian attempts at a war of manoeuvre. Finally, it outlines a basic framework for a Palestinian war of position that focuses not only on confronting the Israeli occupation but also on challenging the internal arrangement of Palestinian political and economic power—and its related class structure. This last section also examines Palestine’s position within the wider Arab world and considers how and in what way a Palestinian war of position would or could, have a broader role in the context of ongoing revolutions.
Philip J. M. Leech

Chapter 9. Resistant Rationalities? Some Reflections on Shi’i Movements in Lebanon

Based on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork, I will focus on the work of the charities affiliated with the resistance movement in Lebanon. Using a Gramscian framework, I analyze how these charities are challenging Western secularism by re-mystifying liberal economic principles as a means to strengthen the resistance community—a process that is full of internal contradictions. Thus I conclude with some critical thoughts on ‘the resistance’ as a social project in Lebanon today.
Sarah Marusek

Chapter 10. Coda

In the coda I make some remarks regarding the epistemology and methods deployed in the book, and difficult, open questions that remain in relation to the historical events that we have been lucky enough to not only witness, but begin to assess. Five observations and/or reflections are designed to help orient us toward an analytic horizon where a more robust understanding of the struggles of various forms in the twenty-first century can be developed and further calls to action made: epistemological and methodological difficulties and adequate means of critique; geopolitical economy and uneven and combined development; the question of the state in the tradition of Nicos Poulantzas and hegemony in the tradition of Antonio Gramsci today; relationship between class- and non-class-based social movements and discourse and non-discursive practices; objectivity of analysis and subjective positioning.
Sabah Alnasseri


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