Sociology Arab Spring, Mobilization, and Contentious Politics in the Middle East
by
Atef Said
  • LAST MODIFIED: 28 February 2017
  • DOI: 10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0191

Introduction

The following is an annotated bibliography on the Arab Spring, specifically in relation to social movements and revolutions. This list is not comprehensive by any means. There are three rationales behind its organization. The first is the critical trend in the scholarship of revolution, according to which the scholarship calls for distinguishing revolutionary origins from processes and outcomes. The second is inspired by the characterization of the so-called “fourth generation” of scholarship on revolutions. According to Jack Goldstone and others, this generation gave more attention to the role of culture, agency, and processes in uprisings. Third, while this bibliography is particularly attentive to literature on revolutions and Social Movement Theory (SMT), it also includes larger debates regarding the Arab Spring in these fields: democracy and democratization, political transition, and the authoritarianism of the region. This list is divided in a way to reflect the three rationales. The title of the entry is broad to reflect these themes. And in addition to sections on origins, and process/transition and outcome, the bibliography includes sections on the relation between the Arab Spring and SMT literature; the role of agency in the Arab Spring; the role of social media; the role of culture; the role of various repertoires of contention; and the role of space and the role of regional and international politics. Besides, this bibliography includes a section on general introductory works to the Arab Spring as a whole. A few important notes should be mentioned here. First, there are continued debates regarding the proper definition of the Arab Spring. I use terms such as revolutions, uprisings, and spring interchangeably. Second, it should be noted that while works are presented in distinct sections, this is done for organizational purposes only; many of the issues covered in different sections are in fact connected. For example, a number of authors have talked about the significant role of youth in the Arab Spring in tandem with the role and use of social media. Third, the case of Egypt often occupies a place of theoretical and empirical privilege within the study of the Arab Spring. Resolving this problem goes beyond the purpose of this bibliography. I have included many important works that cover other cases, which directly witnessed uprisings and or generally were impacted by the Arab Spring. Still the dominance of works on Egypt is apparent here too.

Introductory Works

The following list includes useful general introductions to the subject of the Arab Spring, especially for undergraduate courses. Many of these works appeared in 2011 and 2012 and focused on two main questions: (1) how to revise existing arguments regarding robust authoritarianism in the region in light of the Arab Spring; and (2) how to rethink the relation of Islam to democracy. To a certain extent, both questions reflect the Orientalist and homogenizing assumptions that continue to shape thinking about the Arab world. In addition to these early works that focused on the “surprising” nature of the events, the list includes more critical works that appeared in 2013 and 2014 and went beyond celebratory analyses. Books are listed first, then articles.

Books

The following are very useful introductory books about the Arab Spring. Some of these look at the Arab Spring as complex contentious series (Amar and Prashad 2013), and some study them comparatively (Arjomand 2015). Some works study the Arab Spring from structuralist/ intuitionalist perspectives while giving attention mostly to the intersection of the state, the military, and the economy (Brownlee, et al. 2015; Gerges 2013). Some works focus mainly on general lessons (Filiu 2011), or the significance of rupture and timeline in the Arab Spring (Noueihed and Warren 2012), or the intersection of regime change and transition and the role of ground-up perspectives or historicized analyses to understand the uprisings (Abou-El-Fadl 2015; Gana 2013; Khatib, and Lust 2014)

  • Abou-El-Fadl, Reem, ed. 2015. Revolutionary Egypt: Connecting domestic and international struggles. New York: Routledge.

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    This volume stresses the need to understand the Egyptian uprising as a process. It includes contributions from a wide range of social scientists. It addresses many issues about Egypt’s transition, cultural practices during the uprising and its aftermath, the economy and geopolitics of the uprising and its aftermath, sectarianism and counter-revolution, the nature of regime change, and the role of international politics and neoliberalism in shaping the uprising’s trajectory.

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    • Amar, Paul Edouard, and Vijay Prashad, eds. 2013. Dispatches from the Arab Spring: Understanding the new Middle East. Minneapolis: Univ. of Minnesota Press.

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      Though it focuses exclusively on the events of 2011 and 2012, this volume provides an analytically rich inquiry into the eventfulness of the Arab Spring. The book is divided into thirteen chapters, each tackling a specific country and written by an appropriate expert. The book’s strength is its discussion of how Arab Spring events mattered in each country, even those not always considered part of the Arab Spring.

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      • Arjomand, Said Amir, ed. 2015. The Arab Revolution of 2011: A comparative perspective. New York: SUNY Press.

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        As the title suggests, this collection of essays puts the Arab Spring in comparative perspective. There are interesting essays on the relevance of space to the uprisings, the role played by inequality and economic crisis, as well as debates on religion in relation to the state. Said Amir Arjomand’s introduction and Jack A. Goldstone’s chapter are highly recommended for an introductory course on the Arab Spring.

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        • Brownlee, Jason, Tarek E. Masoud, and Andrew Reynolds. 2015. The Arab Spring: Pathways of repression and reform. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

          DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199660063.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

          This book offers a useful structural analysis of the Arab uprisings, narrating the transition from repression to limited reform to repression again. The authors emphasize the role of institutional analysis and trace the regimes’ breakdown, subsequent crackdowns, and the uprisings themselves through careful data analysis that looks at the impact of economics and leadership change and/or continuity in the region.

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          • Filiu, Jean-Pierre. 2011. The Arab revolution: Ten lessons from the democratic uprising. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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            This short, yet interesting book is organized in terms of ten lessons from the uprisings. The lessons touch on the following issues: role of youth, of social media networks, the strong presence of Islamists, the relevance of the Palestine/Israel question, and the significance of revolutionary fervor in the uprisings’ spread across the region. Some of the lessons are simplistic, however, presenting democracy and chaos as a dichotomy, for example.

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            • Gana, Nouri. 2013. The making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, architects, prospects. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

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              While there are numerous edited volumes on the Arab Spring, there are almost none devoted to specific revolutions, other than those that focus on the Egyptian Revolution. This is the best and only volume I know about that addresses the Tunisian Revolution.

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              • Gerges, Fawaz A., ed. 2013. The new Middle East: Protest and revolution in the Arab world. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                This volume offers comprehensive coverage of the Arab Spring. It includes twenty-one chapters written by prominent experts from a wide range of social sciences and humanities, as well as experts on the region and/or specific countries. There are analyses about classes, the state, and the role of the militaries in the uprisings. The book is more critical than the many celebratory accounts published in 2011 and 2012.

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                • Khatib, Lina, and Ellen Lust, eds. 2014. Taking to the streets: The transformation of Arab activism. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                  This is a great introductory volume on the Arab Spring. The book studies ten Arab countries and situates the Arab Spring within the previous history of activism. It analyzes how activism was experienced on the ground in these countries, but also discusses this critically. In a sense, the book reclaims the notion of activism and activists in the social movement literature in the context of the Arab world.

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                  • Noueihed, Lin, and Alex Warren. 2012. The battle for the Arab Spring: Revolution, counter-revolution and the making of a new era. New Haven, CT: Yale Univ. Press.

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                    The book is very useful as a documentary introduction to the chronology of events in the Arab Spring, especially in 2011 and early 2012. It is divided into three main parts (“Roots of Rage,” “Battlegrounds,” and “New Politics”) and twelve chapters. It includes useful, if relatively simplistic analyses of the intersection of economies, stagnant regimes, and corruption networks, as well as the social media and media revolution in the region.

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                    Articles

                    The following are useful introductory articles about the Arab Spring. Some of these articles deal with the general misunderstanding of the region or the Arab Spring prior to the uprisings of 2011, misunderstandings that prevented scholars from seeing what happened. Other articles focus on demystifying the events themselves or on how they are constructed or offered critical perspectives to understand them.

                    The Arab Spring as Theoretical and Empirical Challenge

                    A common theme in the literature of the Arab Spring was admitting the failure of mainstream political science and scholars of Middle Eastern politics specifically in foreseeing the Arab Spring. Most of these analyses admit that the main problem was the obsession with studying authoritarianism in the region without giving enough attention to movements (Bellin 2012, Gause 2011). Some scholars addressed specifically how the authoritarianism paradigm is insufficient in understanding the region (Teti and Gervasio 2011) and others discussed the challenges that the Arab Spring posed to political scientists and scholars of the region (Beck 2014; Beck and Hüser 2012).

                    • Beck, Martin. 2014. The Arab Spring as a challenge to political science. In The international politics of the Arab Spring. Edited by Robert Mason, 9–36. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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                      This chapter examines the extent to which the Arab Spring challenges certain established paradigms and assumptions that have long structured studies of the Middle East and the Arab world, such as the nature of authoritarianism and regime structures in the region. Following these discussions and their fate is useful to understand the development of the scholarship about the region.

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                      • Beck, Martin, and Simone Hüser. 2012. Political change in the Middle East: An attempt to analyze the “Arab Spring”. GIGA Working Paper No. 203.

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                        This useful introduction includes a review of common explanatory variables, from economic and demographic factors to regime type and the emergence of social media. Particularly helpful is a comparison of Arab Spring countries in terms of regime type. The authors emphasize the significance of what they describe as “political diversification” in the region, without making bold claims about the future of democracy in the region.

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                        • Bellin, Eva. 2012. Reconsidering the robustness of authoritarianism in the Middle East: Lessons from the Arab Spring. Comparative Politics 44.2: 127–149.

                          DOI: 10.5129/001041512798838021Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                          Bellin and others have written extensively prior to the Arab Spring about the persistence of authoritarianism in the Arab world. They emphasized the “weak civil society,” as well as the weak or fragmented opposition in the region. This article is very interesting to read as it shows the author revisiting the debates and assumptions that she was, at least in part, responsible in part for promulgating in the first place.

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                          • Gause, F. Gregory, III. 2011. Why Middle East studies missed the Arab Spring: The myth of authoritarian stability. Foreign Affairs 90:81–90.

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                            Gregory Gause criticizes the rigid understandings and models about authoritarianism in the region in both mainstream political science and Middle Eastern studies. He emphasizes both fields’ failure to take social movements seriously. The article shows how many political scientists’ obsession with stability led them to focus on political regimes, the military-security complex, and the state. Bu those scholars ignored economic and political crises and the constant demands for reform.

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                            • Teti, Andrea, and Gennaro Gervasio. 2011. The unbearable lightness of authoritarianism: Lessons from the Arab uprisings. Mediterranean Politics 16.2: 321–327.

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                              Like other articles, this piece criticizes rigid analyses of authoritarianism in the region, but more importantly, it highlights some important theoretically grounded critiques, noting, for example, the contradictory nature of authoritarianism under neo-liberalism, the region’s history of radical politics and radicalism, as well as issues of overt or covert politicization. In addition, the authors emphasize that the question of political Islam is far more nuanced than most mainstream political science analyses suggest.

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                              Demystifying the Arab Spring and Critical Perspectives

                              The following are very important introductory articles about the Arab Spring. The goal of some of these is to argue against treating the Arab Spring as one coherent event (Anderson 2011). The objective of some of these articles is to problematize the simplistic understanding of political Islam in the region (Arjomand 2013) or to argue against the premature celebration of the events (Bayat 2011) and to resist viewing the events separately from their complex history (Chalcraft 2015; El-Mahdi 2014; Hinnebusch 2014). Even if seen as celebratory, some works highlight the significance of looking at the spirit of the protestors (Benhabib 2011). Of interest and relevance is the debate about how Orientalist perspectives yield premature analyses about the Arab uprisings (Czaika 2011 and El-Mahdi 2011).

                              • Anderson, Lisa. 2011. Demystifying the Arab Spring. Foreign Affairs 90.3: 2–7.

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                                An immersed expert of the region, Anderson provides a useful introduction to the Arab Spring. She very efficiently examines the structural, demographic, economic, and global conditions that led to the uprisings in three countries: Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Though written in 2011, the piece demonstrate a valuable level of skepticism otherwise lacking from many other writings at the time.

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                                • Arjomand, Said Amir. 2013. The Islam and democracy debate after 2011. Constellations 20.2: 297–311.

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                                  This article revisits the long-standing debate regarding Islam’s incompatibility with democracy in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Said Arjomand is a prominent historical sociologist and expert on Iran who knows the region well. This enables him to incorporate key insights regarding, for example, green movements and new constitutions in Egypt and Iran, which elevate the discussion beyond the usual absolutist debate. A very useful read for Sociology of the Middle East classes.

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                                  • Bayat, Asef. 2011. Paradoxes of Arab Refo-lutions. Jadaliyya (3 March).

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                                    Published in the first week of March 2011, this is one of the most important articles about the Arab Spring. Bayat addresses some structural impediments of strong reform in Egypt and Tunisia, namely, the administration of the transition by institutions from the old regime. Many activists and critics from the region did not agree with Bayat’s skepticism at the time, though his view has since been vindicated.

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                                    • Benhabib, Seyla. 2011. The Arab Spring: Religion, revolution, and the public sphere. Transformation of Public Sphere Blog, Social Sciences Research Council.

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                                      Written in February 2011, the article offers an optimistic take on the Arab Spring. But it does raise important questions, nonetheless, about the underlying ethics and values of the Arab Spring protestors, particularly with regard to human dignity and pluralism. Though published too soon to include the Arab Spring’s complex aftermath, the piece does provide a useful discussion of the aspirations of the protestors.

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                                      • Chalcraft, John. 2015. The Arab Uprisings of 2011 in historical perspective. In The Oxford handbook of contemporary Middle-Eastern and North African history. Edited by Amal Ghazal and Jens Hansse. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                        John Chalcraft is a critical social and economic historian of the region, particularly of Egypt. In this chapter, he does something many other works about the Arab Spring do not: he situates the uprisings in the history of previous protests in the region.

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                                        • Czaika, Agnes. 2011. Orientalising the Egyptian uprising, take two: Response to Rabab el-Mahdi and her interlocutors. Jadaliyya (1 July).

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                                          Rather than agreeing or disagreeing with Rabab El-Mahdi’s critique of immature and simple analyses in the West about the Egyptian uprising, Agnes Czaika calls for situating the discussion about orientalizing the uprising within some larger conceptual foundations of the debate. Czaika specifically calls for analyzing the “ontological and epistemological drives” that ground Orientalism with respect to the debates about the uprising.

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                                          • El-Mahdi, Rabab. 2011. Orientalising the Egyptian uprising. Jadaliyya (11 April).

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                                            Written a few months after the ouster of Mubarak, El-Mahdi criticizes the quick and shallow analyses of the Egyptian uprising. The latter was shaped by generalizing and simple notions of youth, social media, peacefulness, and Tahrir Square; analyses that are simply lacking historical and political rigorous understanding of what happened in Egypt.

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                                            • El-Mahdi, Rabab. 2014. Egypt: A decade of ruptures. In Taking to the streets: The transformation of Arab activism. Edited by Lina Khatib and Ellen Lust, 52–75. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press.

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                                              This is one of the best chapters about how the decade prior to the revolution in Egypt was crucial in its making. Against simple analyses that limit the Egyptian revolution to social media role or the role of youth or pro-democratic activists or the role of labor, El-Mahdi connects all these parts beautifully.

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                                              • Hinnebusch, Raymond. 2014. Historical sociology and the Arab Uprising. Mediterranean Politics 19.1: 137–140.

                                                DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2013.856180Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                In this extremely short piece, the author argues against ahistorical analyses of the Arab world and identifies historical sociological tools and concepts such as path-dependency and interstate connections that could shed light on the discussion. Hinnebusch also argues for historical sociological frameworks sensitive to the history of the making of Arab states in colonial and then postcolonial contexts.

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                                                Social Movement Theory and Theories of Revolution and the Arab Spring

                                                The following list includes works that analyze the Arab Spring and the Arab world through the lens of Social Movement Theory (SMT) and/or use the case of the Arab Spring to highlight limitations of SMT; analyses that integrate contentious political frameworks or theories of revolutions in order to understand the Arab Spring; and pieces that stretch the boundaries of SMT by examining the Arab Spring and contentious politics in the region in relation to other fields such as comparative politics, democratization studies, and/or Middle Eastern studies. The list is divided into three sub-sections: (1) works that address the limitations of SMT theories or theories of revolutions in understanding the Arab Spring; (2) works that highlight some of the key features of the Arab uprisings or offer key comparisons with other similar events; and (3) works that address or present new approaches in SMT, contentious politics, and revolutions to understand the Arab Spring uprisings.

                                                Limitations of Social Movement Theory and Revolutions

                                                The following list presents important critiques about the limitations of conventional analytical frameworks in Social Movement Theory (SMT) and revolution theories given what happened in the Arab Spring. Some of the works visit the old debate in revolution theories about the difficulty of predicting uprisings, while addressing the specificities in the region (Bayat 2013; Goodwin 2011; Kurzman 2012). Despite the usefulness of SMT and revolution theories, some scholars in this list suggest the need to take into consideration the unique features of revolutionary crisis in these events, such as the important role of the military and the subtle meanings of civil society in the region (Akder 2013; Beinin and Vairel 2011). Scholars in this group highlighted the following two problems in mainstream analyses of the Arab Spring. The first is the focus on regimes, which made scholarship missing mobilization and the second is analyzing the uprising through conventional use of SMT or revolutions (Allam 2014; Bamyeh and Hanafi 2015; Korany and El-Mahdi 2012; Schwedler 2015). One scholar addresses the interesting problem that the Arab Spring has been subject to three main competing paradigms, namely social movements, revolutions, and democratization (Sarihan 2014).

                                                • Akder, Derya Göçer. 2013. Theories of revolutions and Arab Uprisings: The lessons from the Middle East. Middle East Studies Journal (Ortadoğu Etütleri) 4.2 (January): 85–110.

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                                                  The article appears in the Middle East Studies Journal, which is published in Turkey. In addition to providing a useful literature review of revolutionary theories, it addresses how the Arab Spring challenges such theories and highlights the need for more attention to the tensions between the domestic and the international in the study of revolutions, as well as the role of the militaries in uprisings.

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                                                  • Allam, Nermin. 2014. Arab revolutions: Breaking fear, blesses and curses: Virtual dissidence as a contentious performance in the Arab Spring’s repertoire of contention. International Journal of Communication 8:853–870.

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                                                    While clarifying and using the concepts of Internet activism and virtual dissidence, the author brings Charles Tilly and Sidney Tarrow’s well-established social movements concepts of repertoires of contention and contentious performance to analyze the Arab Spring. The author makes the argument that virtual dissidence constitutes a form of contentious performance. It is a very interesting and theoretical piece.

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                                                    • Bamyeh, Mohammed, and Sari Hanafi. 2015. Introduction. Special Issue: Arab Uprisings. International Sociology 30.4: 343–347.

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                                                      Instead of focusing on outcomes, Bamyeh and Hanafi argue that sociologists ought to study the distinctive features of uprisings, where they came from, as well as how they relate to older movements and what repertoires they involve. They state “Revolutions are opportunities to learn something new. The worst analytical insult to a revolution is to use it as an opportunity to apply mechanically an existing theory or model” (p. 343).

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                                                      • Bayat, Asef. 2013. The Arab Spring and its surprises. Development and Change 44.3: 587–601.

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                                                        Asef Bayat is a prominent expert on social movements and the region. He proposes that discussions framing the Arab Spring as a surprise are obsolete. For are not all revolutions surprises in a sense? He offers a grounded perspective on the “real” surprises of the Arab Spring, such as the role played by Islamists, the significance of protest in the streets, and the informal politics that led to the uprisings.

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                                                        • Beinin, Joel, and Frédéric Vairel. 2011. The Middle East and North Africa: Beyond classical Social Movement Theory. Introduction. In Social movements, mobilization, and contestation in the Middle East and North Africa. Edited by Joel Beinin and Frédéric Vairel, 1–31. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                          The introduction of the volume includes the most extensive literature review, to my knowledge, about the relevance and different applications of SMT to the Middle East. The introduction also provides a critical review of important works about the Middle East that are unfamiliar to a Western audience. Beinin and Vairel emphasize the significance of contexts, networks, culture, and repertories, as well as the role and changing meanings of civil society.

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                                                          • Goodwin, Jeff. 2011. Why we were surprised (again) by the Arab Spring. Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 452–456.

                                                            DOI: 10.1111/j.1662-6370.2011.02045.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                            Another leading scholar of revolutions, Jeff Goodwin tackles a classic issue in the scholarship on revolutions—the difficulty of predicting revolutions—and considers it in relation to the Arab Spring.

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                                                            • Korany, Bahgat, and Rabab El-Mahdi, eds. 2012. The Arab Spring in Egypt: Revolution and beyond. Cairo, Egypt: American Univ. in Cairo Press.

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                                                              This is an important volume about the making of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. The introduction written by El-Mahdi and Korany shows how the study of the Arab world has been dominated by top-down approaches in politics that emphasized Arab exceptionalism. The authors propose a middle ground perspective that is neither top-down nor bottom-up, but rather attentive to the multiple angles and dimensions of protest.

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                                                              • Kurzman, Charles. 2012. The Arab Spring uncoiled. Mobilization: An International Quarterly 17.4: 377–390.

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                                                                This is an introduction to a special issue of Mobilization on the Arab Spring. Kurzman proposes that the failure to predict these events should not be ignored entirely and raises the question, Why did scholars not foresee the conditions under which the transformation could happen? Trying to go beyond discussions of explanation versus interpretation, Kurzman emphasizes the cognitive dimensions of protests and the role of bravery in the uprisings.

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                                                                • Sarihan, Ali. 2014. In search of the Arab uprisings: Social movement, revolution, or democratization? Turkish Journal of Politics 5.1: 39–56.

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                                                                  The article is an interesting read that analyzes the Arab Spring through three different frameworks: social movements, revolution, and democratization. One could, of course, name other relevant frameworks, but the overlap between the three frameworks and the complex phenomena of the Arab Spring make this article useful to discuss in undergraduate and graduate classes alike.

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                                                                  • Schwedler, Jillian. 2015. Comparative politics and the Arab Uprisings. Middle East Law and Governance 7.1: 141–152.

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                                                                    Jillian Schwedler notes that scholars of the Middle East in the subfield of comparative politics tended to study the Arab uprisings by focusing on either regimes or movements. She proposes a framework that brings regimes and movements together, but also addresses some subtle and promising areas of research, such as the interconnection of politics across states and regions, and the spatiality of protests.

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                                                                    Significant Features and Comparisons

                                                                    The following list includes works that highlights key features of the Arab Spring uprisings and or provide some useful comparisons between the Arab Spring events and similar historical episodes. Dupont and Passy 2011 stresses the need to understand the tipping points and rupture nature of events and the notion of “cognitive liberation” in understanding the events. Scholars also stress the significant role of cross-class and cross-ideological coalitions (Durac 2015, Goldstone 2011a), how far the nature of the regimes shaped the uprisings (Goldstone 2011b), and the role of non-violence in the uprisings (Nepstad 2013). One of the important features of the uprisings was the phenomenon of occupying squares. Gunning and Baron 2013 offers the authors’ take on Tahrir Square. Scholars have made comparisons between the Arab Spring and both the 1848 uprisings in Europe and 1989 in Europe as well (Springborg 2011, Weyland 2012).

                                                                    • Dupont, Cédric, and Florence Passy. 2011. The Arab Spring or how to explain those revolutionary episodes? Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 447–451.

                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1662-6370.2011.02037.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                      Written as an introduction to a special debate within this issue of Swiss Political Science Review on the Arab Spring. The authors problematize important questions such as: whether the protests were predictable events, to what extent they were sudden versus spontaneous, and whether a “cognitive liberation emerged in the mind of oppressed populations,” and how people were able to engage in protest politics in the face of so many political constraints.

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                                                                      • Durac, Vincent. 2015. Social movements, protest movements and cross-ideological coalitions: The Arab uprisings re-appraised. Democratization 22.2: 239–258.

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                                                                        This article appears in a special issue of Democratization (From Arab Spring to Arab Winter: Explaining the limits of post-uprising democratization) published four years after the Arab Spring. Durac focuses on the important question of political coalitions—specifically, whether and to what extent they continued after the uprisings’ initial success. The article explains this shift.

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                                                                        • Goldstone, Jack A. 2011a. Cross-class coalitions and the making of the Arab revolts of 2011. Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 457–462.

                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1662-6370.2011.02038.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                          In addition to his other article written in 2011 about the complexities of personalistic regimes in the region, Jack Goldstone here considers the other side of the coin in explaining the “initial success” of the Arab Spring, namely, the decisive role of cross-class coalitions. This has been an important argument about third world revolutions in sociology.

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                                                                          • Goldstone, Jack A. 2011b. Understanding the revolutions of 2011. Foreign Affairs 90.3: 8–16.

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                                                                            Prominent theorist and scholar of revolutions Jack Goldstone offers his take on the complexities of applying the concept of personalistic/sultanistic regimes to explain major revolutions, and how this worked in the regimes in the Arab world.

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                                                                            • Gunning, Jeroen, and Ilan Zvi Baron. 2013. Why occupy a square?: People, protests and movements in the Egyptian revolution. London: Hurst.

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                                                                              This book provides a theoretical mix that applies theories of political opportunity structure, revolutions, networks, and social movements to the Egyptian revolution. It discusses many important topics such as the relationship between the revolution and the many movements that led to it, the networks that paved the way and participated in the revolution, issues of organization and spontaneity, and Tahrir Square as a central political space in the revolution.

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                                                                              • Nepstad, Sharon Erickson. 2013. Mutiny and nonviolence in the Arab Spring: Exploring military defections and loyalty in Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria. Journal of Peace Research 50.3: 337–349.

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                                                                                The role of elite defection and the military, specifically, is a crucial factor in explaining uprisings. Written by Sharon Nepstad, an expert on nonviolence in social movements, this article examines how protestors’ nonviolence intersected with the role of the military to explain the Arab uprising. An important read on the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                • Springborg, Robert. 2011. Whither the Arab Spring? 1989 or 1848? The International Spectator 46.3: 5–12.

                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/03932729.2011.609357Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                  Robert Springborg is a prominent political economist and expert on the Middle East. Writing when many naïve analyses were quick to celebrate the Arab Spring, Springborg in this article cautions that Arab Spring countries face more challenges than their eastern European counterparts in 1989. He also notes that the Arab Spring may have more in common with the 1848 uprisings in Europe, which were incomplete revolutions.

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                                                                                  • Weyland, Kurt. 2012. The Arab Spring: Why the surprising similarities with the revolutionary wave of 1848? Perspectives on Politics 10.4: 917–934.

                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S1537592712002873Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                    This article is one good attempt to compare the Arab Spring with the 1848 uprisings. The 1848 uprisings may have been incomplete uprisings and the Arab Spring may be one as well, but the article addresses the question of diffusion and the role of the cognitive and psychological aspects in spreading the protests in both the Arab Spring and in Europe in 1848.

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                                                                                    New Approaches in Social Movement Theory and Contentions Politics

                                                                                    Scholars in this section offer or call for critical and new approaches to understanding the Arab Spring. One example of these efforts is borrowing and expanding frameworks from cultural studies such as Raymond Williams’ notion of long revolutions (Abdelrahman 2014), or offering new frameworks to analyze uprisings specifically with focus on how uprisings are operating in different levels, ranging from personal to international (Beck 2014; Bennani-Chraïbi and Fillieule 2012) and calling to bring back Gramscian perspective to understand uprisings (De Smet 2016). Some scholars offer an interesting blend of communication theories and SMT in new ways (Bennett and Segerberg 2012; Hussain, and Howard 2013), and call for providing frameworks that highlight the significant role of emotions and political psychology in the uprisings (Eyadat and Schaefer 2013; Pearlman 2013). Lawson 2015 calls for a new critical understanding of the role of international dimension in uprisings, which he refers to as an intersocietal perspective. Pace and Cavatorta 2012 urges a new perspective to grasp the complexities of the Arab Spring, one that gives attention to the intersection of regimes, movements, and mobilization.

                                                                                    • Abdelrahman, Maha. 2014. Egypt’s long revolution: Protest movements and uprisings. Vol. 4. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                      Abdel Rahman is a sociologist who has been studying social movements for the last two decades. In this book, Abdel Rahman historicizes the Egyptian Revolution and explores the intersection of economic and political grievances leading to the uprising. She argues that the Egyptian revolution should be understood as a long revolution, borrowing the concept from the late British theorist Raymond Williams. This is a grounded work and a great textbook.

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                                                                                      • Beck, Colin J. 2014. Reflections on the revolutionary wave in 2011. Theory and Society 43.2: 197–223.

                                                                                        DOI: 10.1007/s11186-014-9213-8Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                        This article is based on a complex study design using qualitative comparative analysis of sixteen Middle Eastern and North African countries. The author offers a meta-framework that combines multiple levels and units of analysis of revolutions; the framework includes “1) identification of international conditions that matter, how they are linked to both 2) state-centered causes and 3) mobilizing processes, and 4) their relationship with the spread of contention” (p. 216).

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                                                                                        • Bennani-Chraïbi, Mounia, and Olivier Fillieule. 2012. Towards a sociology of revolutionary situations. Reflections on the Arab uprisings. Revue française de science politique (English) 62:1–29.

                                                                                          DOI: 10.3917/rfspe.625.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                          The most important contribution of the piece is not its review of other literature, but its distinct theoretical take, in which Bennani-Chraibi and Fillieule try to distinguish between conducive elements, processes, and revolutionary situations in revolutions/uprisings. Bennani-Chraïbi and Fillieule also show how their framework is to be applied on micro, meso, and macro levels (p. 25 includes a good summary table).

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                                                                                          • Bennett, W. Lance, and Alexandra Segerberg. 2012. The logic of connective action: Digital media and the personalization of contentious politics. Information, Communication & Society 15.5: 739–768.

                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/1369118X.2012.670661Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                            The authors here emphasize that digital activism is not only mediated and diffuse, but the type of collective action is also still very personalized. This paradoxical quality is an important feature of these new movements, which started with the Arab Spring. The article discusses the Arab Spring and other new movements and protests such as los indignados in Spain and Occupy Wall Street in the United States.

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                                                                                            • De Smet, Brecht. 2016. Gramsci on Tahrir: Revolution and counter-revolution in Egypt. London: Pluto.

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                                                                                              Despite the strong relevance of Gramsci to social movements and revolutions, his work is not at the forefront of Social Movement Theory (SMT) and studies of revolutions. As such, this book is very refreshing and interesting. De Smet invokes Gramsci’s notions of passive revolution and Caesarism. To my knowledge, it is one of the few works that addresses the question of counter-revolution and restoration in Egypt.

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                                                                                              • Eyadat, Zaid, and Gwendolyn Schaefer. 2013. Arab revolutions of 2011: An explanatory model. Dirasat: Human & Social Sciences 40.1: 202–215.

                                                                                                DOI: 10.12816/0000630Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                The authors advocate the need to integrate political psychological frameworks, and give more attention to rationality and calculability of both the regime and the protestors in the Arab Spring. They propose a theoretical framework to capture the individual/psychological makeup of protestors during the uprisings, with a strong emphasis on the notion of dignity. Dirasat is a journal issued by the Social Sciences and Humanities Section of the University of Jordan.

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                                                                                                • Hussain, Muzammil M., and Philip N. Howard. 2013. What best explains successful protest cascades? ICTs and the fuzzy causes of the Arab Spring. International Studies Review 15.1: 48–66.

                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1111/misr.12020Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                  This article is as an example of efforts to broaden SMT using Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). The authors propose an interesting six-stage framework of political change to analyze the Arab Spring. The stages are: preparation, ignition, protest, international buy-in, climax, and a flow of information on warfare phase. The piece is an interesting take on the intersection of ICTs with people, grievances, movements, and political change.

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                                                                                                  • Lawson, George. 2015. Revolutions and the international. Theory and Society 44.4: 1–21.

                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1007/s11186-015-9251-xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                    George Lawson proposes going beyond the simple assumption that the international dimension of uprisings is ether permissive or restrictive. He suggests, instead, a temporal framework that charts how the influence of the international shifts over time in relation to revolutions, from origins to outcomes to revolutionary trajectories. He calls for what he calls an “intersocietal perspective” to study revolutions.

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                                                                                                    • Pace, Michelle, and Francesco Cavatorta. 2012. The Arab uprisings in theoretical perspective—An introduction. Mediterranean Politics 17.2: 125–138.

                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2012.694040Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                      This is an introduction to a special issue of Mediterranean Politics on the Arab Spring. The authors call for new theoretical tools to study the Arab world. They argue that study of the Arab world was previously dominated by two paradigms—authoritarian resilience and democratization—neither of which gave adequate attention to civil society, populations, and movements.

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                                                                                                      • Pearlman, Wendy. 2013. Emotions and the microfoundations of the Arab uprisings. Perspectives on Politics 11.2: 387–409.

                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1017/S1537592713001072Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                        The author constitutes an exception to the negligence of study emotions in the Arab uprisings, by applying what she calls a microfoundation approach to study the role of emotions in these events. She builds on findings in neuroscientific research to analyze why people decide to resign or rebel. She compares Tunisia and Egypt during their respective uprisings, and also look at the “control” case of Algeria, which saw no uprisings.

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                                                                                                        Pre-conditions and Origins of the Uprisings

                                                                                                        Numerous works discuss the origins of the Arab Spring, with specific focus on the role of political and economic origins. Thus, the focus here is on these two aspects. Of course, this separation of political and economic issues is tenuous; after all, harsh neoliberal economies in the Arab world are tied to networks of nepotism, political corruption, and to attacks on organizing, and so on.

                                                                                                        Economy

                                                                                                        If there is one thing most scholars agree about concerning the Arab Spring, this would be the economic reasons behind it. Some scholars in this section discuss how neoliberal policies have been crucial in causing the uprisings, with international financial institutions as part of the problem (Joya 2011, Murphy 2013). Scholars affirm the need to locate the economic crisis in the region within the nature of the economic development of the state and its fiscal crises (Achcar 2013; Amin, et al. 2012; Soliman 2011; Springborg 2011). The reasons cited by many of these scholars are similar: inequalities, lack of opportunities, and the crony state structure and networks of corruption (Amin, et al. 2012; Malik and Awadallah 2013). Two scholars listed here assert that the Arab World was poised for revolution (Campante and Chor 2012). But despite this agreement, some scholars suggest that one of the important missing elements in the discussion of economic origins of the uprising are the links between the structures of the state and economies in the region and global capitalism (Achcar 2013; Hanieh 2013; Bond, et al. 2011).

                                                                                                        • Achcar, Gilbert. 2013. The people want: A radical exploration of the Arab uprising. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.

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                                                                                                          The book effectively combines Marxist theory of revolution, political economy, and development and social movement theories. It includes a wealth of economic data on poverty, wealth distribution, and economic developments in the region. The book’s biggest strength lies in its discussion of the development and crises of capitalism in the region. Chapters 1 and 2 are essential reading for any discussion of the political economy of the Arab uprisings.

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                                                                                                          • Amin, Magdi, Ragui Assaad, Nazar al-Baharna, et al. 2012. After the spring: Economic transitions in the Arab world. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199924929.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                            This strong collection of chapters written by experts on the economies of the region is based on a workshop organized by the Brookings Institute Global Economy and Development Section in June 2011. The book is divided into six chapters, dealing with many important issues such as the fiscal state, development, unemployment, and education and demographic issues, as well as the structures of the private and public sectors.

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                                                                                                            • Bond, Patrick, Rami El-Amine, Adam Hanieh, and Mostafa Henaway. 2011. The Arab revolts against neoliberalism. Toronto, ON: Centre for Social Justice.

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                                                                                                              Written as an educational pamphlet by a group of academics and activists, this sixty-eight-page collection is a compelling discussion of how harsh neoliberalism caused the Arab Spring. The pamphlet includes a good discussion of the role of structural adjustment programs before and immediately after the uprising, and their role in shaping events.

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                                                                                                              • Campante, Filipe R., and Davin Chor. 2012. Why was the Arab world poised for revolution? Schooling, economic opportunities, and the Arab Spring. The Journal of Economic Perspectives 26.2: 167–187.

                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1257/jep.26.2.167Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                Any proper discussion of the long-term conditions of the Arab Spring should offer a detailed account of the role of highly educated youth and the lack of opportunities for this group. This article addresses this issue.

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                                                                                                                • Hanieh, Adam. 2013. Lineages of revolt: Issues of contemporary capitalism in the Middle East. Chicago: Haymarket.

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                                                                                                                  This book counters simplistic readings of the economy of the region that would focus only on corruption and nepotism but separate these from the structure of capitalism. Hanieh provides a historically grounded discussion of capitalism in the region, with a good overview of the discrepancies between rural and urban areas. This book devotes more attention to the intersections of Arab economies and elitist classes and global capitalism.

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                                                                                                                  • Joya, Angela. 2011. The Egyptian Revolution: Crisis of neoliberalism and the potential for democratic politics. Review of African Political Economy 38.129: 367–386.

                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/03056244.2011.602544Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                    This is a short and beautifully written piece on the two decades of economic liberalism in Egypt. The article is not only appealingly compact, but also includes a good discussion of how neo-liberalism forced many sectors of the population to organize—something with which any democratic transition in Egypt must contend.

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                                                                                                                    • Malik, Adeel, and Bassem Awadallah. 2013. The economics of the Arab Spring. World Development 45:296–313.

                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2012.12.015Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                      Similar to many works on the economic underpinning of the uprisings, the article discusses issues of redistributions, inequalities, and lack of opportunities. But what is interesting here is the authors’ discussion of the economic costs of repression.

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                                                                                                                      • Murphy, Emma. 2013. Under the emperor’s neoliberal clothes! Why the international financial institutions got it wrong in Tunisia. In The making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, architects, prospects. Edited by Nouri Gana, 35–57. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                        This chapter examines how international financial institutions downplayed issues of poverty, corruption, and unemployment in their reports about Tunisia in the years prior to the Tunisian Uprising. Ironically, Tunisia was presented instead as one of the most progressively developing economies in the region, yet it went on to serve as the catalyst to the Arab Spring. The chapter discusses this seeming paradox.

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                                                                                                                        • Soliman, Samer. 2011. The autumn of dictatorship: Fiscal crisis and political change in Egypt under Mubarak. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                          This is the best political economy book about Egypt in the last few decades. It details the state and fiscal history of Egypt in the decades leading to the Egyptian Revolution. It includes historicization of the overtaxation in Egypt, and Egypt’s transition from a rentier state to a predatory state. Far from focusing simply on fiscal crisis, the book is an excellent study of political economy and the Egyptian state.

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                                                                                                                          • Springborg, Robert. 2011. The political economy of the Arab Spring. Mediterranean Politics 16.3: 427–433.

                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2011.613678Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                            This article provides a political economic analysis of Mubarak’s ousting and the immediate aftermath. Springborg includes good discussion of the structure of the Egyptian economy, the tension and relation between the business community, the military, and the Mubarakists. The article also addresses security challenges in relation to financial challenges, as well as the question of economic aid and Egypt’s relationship with the rich Gulf countries and Washington.

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                                                                                                                            Politics

                                                                                                                            The works below address the political reasons behind the Arab Spring, with specific focus on regimes in the Arab World. Some of the works situate the Arab Spring by type of regime, whether they be authoritarian in general, or regimes with a president for life or neo-patrimonial orientations (Brynen, et al. 2012; Fahmy 2012; Joffé 2011; Owen 2014). Others, give special attention to the resilience of the region’s monarchies in the wake of the Arab Spring (Brynen, et al. 2012; Yom and Gause 2012).

                                                                                                                            • Brynen, Rex, Pete W. Moore, Bassel F. Salloukh, and Marie-Joelle Zahar. 2012. Beyond the Arab Spring: Authoritarianism and democratization in the Arab world. Vol. 4. Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner.

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                                                                                                                              The book is divided into three parts: context, issues, and conclusion. It covers issues that vary from monarchical liberation to rentierism, electoral politics, Islamic movements in relation to authoritarian regimes, as well as the political cultures. What is more interesting, however, is the volume’s inclusion of not just Arab Spring countries, but also other countries in the Arabian Peninsula, North African countries, and Mashreq (Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria).

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                                                                                                                              • Fahmy, Hazem. 2012. An initial perspective on “The winter of discontent”: The root causes of the Egyptian revolution. Social Research 79.2: 349–376.

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                                                                                                                                This article discusses the intersecting political and economic causes of the Egyptian Revolution. These include, for example, the planned succession of Mubarak’s son, the rise of coalitional opposition groups such as Kefayya, the escalation of police brutality, as well as the permanent application of emergency law. A simple, broad introduction to the causes of the revolution.

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                                                                                                                                • Joffé, George. 2011. The Arab Spring in North Africa: Origins and prospects. The Journal of North African Studies 16.4: 507–532.

                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2011.630881Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                  This piece describes the intersection of economic crisis in the region with what the author refers to as the “neo-patrimonial political nature” of Arab states. The article also includes an interesting discussion of the differences between Egypt and Tunisia on the one hand, and Libya on the other.

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                                                                                                                                  • Owen, Roger. 2014. The rise and fall of Arab presidents for life: With a new afterword. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.4159/harvard.9780674504882Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                    This is a historically grounded book on the structure of the states in the region. It analyzes the contradictions of conducting “electoral” politics in the face of a gigantic security apparatus and plans for succession in “president for life” states such as Syria and Egypt. It includes chapters on the constrained presidents in Lebanon and Iraq after Hussein, as well as the monarchical security states of Jordan, Morocco, Bahrain, and Oman.

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                                                                                                                                    • Yom, Sean L., and F. Gregory Gause III. 2012. Resilient royals: How Arab monarchies hang on. Journal of Democracy 23.4: 74–88.

                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1353/jod.2012.0062Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                      This article deals with the important question of the fate of Arab monarchies.

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                                                                                                                                      Revolutionary Crisis

                                                                                                                                      This section includes pieces focused on the period of revolutionary crisis, or when a critical mass has taken to the streets. This includes works on the role of spontaneity (Bamyeh 2011) and the role of horizontalist organizing (Chalcraft 2012); on how protestors and militaries interacted during these initial stages of crisis (Barany 2011, Ketchley 2014); on describing the battles in streets between protestors and security forces, and on creation of some organic forms of organizing (El-Ghobashy 2011; El-Meehy 2012; Holmes 2012; Leenders 2012). It includes also works on the role of social media during the crisis (Owen Jones 2013) and a description of the politics of living in a camp like Tahrir (Van de Sande 2013).

                                                                                                                                      • Bamyeh, Mohammed A. 2011. The Egyptian Revolution: First impressions from the field. Jadaliyya (11 February).

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                                                                                                                                        Fortunate to be present in Cairo during the time of the uprising, sociologist Mohammed Bamyeh writes a very informative piece emphasizing the role of the protestors’ spontaneity in the first days of the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                        • Barany, Zoltan. 2011. The role of the military. Journal of Democracy 22.4: 24–35.

                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/jod.2011.0069Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                          Zoltan Barany is a professor of government and an expert on the military. The article is simple and may seem outdated now, given what we have learned about the complex role of the military in the aftermath of the Arab Spring uprisings. Still, the piece helps readers understand the initial actions of the militaries in the Arab Spring countries in 2011.

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                                                                                                                                          • Chalcraft, John. 2012. Horizontalism in the Egyptian revolutionary process. Middle East Report 42 (Spring):6–11.

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                                                                                                                                            One of the most popular theories about the Arab Spring, and the Egyptian uprising more specifically, is that they were leaderless. John Chalcraft argues against this and proposes that these events were, in fact, leaderful, but operated through horizontal networks without hierarchy. This is a popular argument and worth discussing in classes on social movements during the Arab Spring and beyond.

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                                                                                                                                            • El-Ghobashy, Mona. 2011. The praxis of the Egyptian Revolution. Middle East Report 41.258: 2–13.

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                                                                                                                                              This is one of the most important pieces about the revolutionary situation in Egypt, especially on 28 January 2011. The article includes a great analysis of the street battles, barricade deployments, and the regime’s eventual inability to repress protestors.

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                                                                                                                                              • El-Meehy, Asya. 2012. Egypt’s popular committees. Middle East Report 42.

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                                                                                                                                                Egyptian popular committees were spontaneous forms of organization that emerged during the revolution when the state security apparatus seemed to have collapsed; this is one of the only articles to address this important issue. El-Meehy also touches upon the important issue of the attempts by NGOs to co-opt these committees in the aftermath of the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                • Holmes, Amy. 2012. There are weeks when decades happen: Structure and strategy in the Egyptian Revolution. Mobilization 17.4: 391–410.

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                                                                                                                                                  This article includes an excellent analysis of the contingencies of the Egyptian Revolution during its most famous “eighteen days,” situated in a theoretically informed discussion about the structure of the state and the role of protestors.

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                                                                                                                                                  • Ketchley, Neil. 2014. “The army and the people are one hand!”: Fraternization and the 25th January Egyptian Revolution. Comparative Studies in Society and History 56.1: 155–186.

                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1017/S0010417513000650Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                    How did Egyptian protestors deal with the army once the latter was deployed in the streets? This article answers this question and explains how the protestors strategically deployed certain tactics and slogans to neutralize the army, including the famous phrase “the army and the people are one hand.”

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                                                                                                                                                    • Leenders, Reinoud. 2012. Collective action and mobilization in Dar’a: An anatomy of the onset of Syria’s popular uprising. Mobilization 17.4: 419–434.

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                                                                                                                                                      This article explains how and why the Syrian uprising of 2011—despite ending with a civil war—actually began on the ground in the Dar’a region. The article is based on complex analysis that blends social network, structural opportunity analyses, as well as the spatialities of the region.

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                                                                                                                                                      • Owen Jones, Mark. 2013. Social media, surveillance and social control in the Bahrain uprising. Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 9.2: 69–92.

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                                                                                                                                                        Among the many articles on the role and the use of social media in the Arab Spring, this article offers a useful analysis of protestors’ use of social media and the backlash from the regime. It frames social media in an important battleground in the “revolutionary situation.”

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                                                                                                                                                        • Van de Sande, Mathijs. 2013. The prefigurative politics of Tahrir Square: An alternative perspective on the 2011 revolutions. Res Publica 19.3: 223–339.

                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1007/s11158-013-9215-9Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                          Many activists and critics have argued that Tahrir was a site of prefigurative politics. In social movement literature, prefigurative politics refers to a mode of organizing where a social movement organizes or strives to live in an actual egalitarian experiment or work to create such a future society during their present organizing.

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                                                                                                                                                          Actors in the Uprisings

                                                                                                                                                          One of the most important themes to consider in relation to the Arab Spring, as in any discussion of collective modes of action, is the role of agency. The following are selected works that address this issue. The list is divided into five parts: labor and classes, youth, women and gender, Christians and minorities, and other organized groups.

                                                                                                                                                          Labor and Classes

                                                                                                                                                          Though the dominant narrative about the Arab Spring is that it was lead mostly by educated youth who have access to social media (disconnected from class), any adequate discussion of the events must not overlook the significance of class, especially the role of the working class and the poor. Some of the works here emphasize the role of the working class in the uprising and its aftermath (Alexander and Bassiouny 2014; Beinin 2012a; Beinin 2012b). Others highlight the role of marginalized groups and the poor in Egypt and Tunisia (Chalcraft 2014, Toensing 2011). The importance of the role of the middle class in the Egyptian uprising is tackled by one scholar (Kandil 2012).

                                                                                                                                                          • Alexander, Anne, and Mostafa Bassiouny. 2014. Bread, freedom, social justice: Workers and the Egyptian Revolution. 1st ed. London: Zed Books.

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                                                                                                                                                            Mostafa Bassiouny is a socialist journalist and labor organizer in Egypt. Anne Alexander is a British academic and activist and expert on labor on Egypt. This is the most detailed and informative book about the labor strikes leading up to the revolution and the immediate challenges afterward.

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                                                                                                                                                            • Beinin, Joel. 2012a. Egyptian workers and January 25th: A social movement in historical context. Social Research 79.2: 323–348.

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                                                                                                                                                              Joel Beinin is a prominent social historian and expert on Egyptian labor. This is an important article about the role of the labor strikes from 2006 to 2008 and the making of the Egyptian Revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                              • Beinin, Joel. 2012b. The rise of Egypt’s workers. Washington, DC: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

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                                                                                                                                                                This book is similar to Beinin’s previous work examining the years leading to the revolution, but here the author discusses the structure of labor organizations in Egypt and the first year of labor organizing and challenges under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces in 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                • Chalcraft, John. 2014. Egypt’s 25 January uprising, hegemonic contestation, and the explosion of the poor. In The New Middle East: Protest and revolution in the Arab world. Edited by Fawaz A. Gerges, 155–179. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                  A question too often missing from discussions about the Egyptian Revolution is the role of poor Egyptians. Most analyses that gave attention to classes in the Egyptian Revolution focused on the middle or working classes, but not the urban poor. This article is one exception.

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                                                                                                                                                                  • Kandil, Hazem. 2012. Why did the Egyptian middle class march to Tahrir Square? Mediterranean Politics 17.2: 197–215.

                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2012.694044Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                    Sociologist Hazem Kandil explains why large segments of the Egyptian middle class joined the protests—a critical development during the mobilization of the revolution. Kandil shows how many educated middle-class youth were politically and economically marginalized.

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                                                                                                                                                                    • Toensing, Chris. 2011. Tunisian labor leaders reflect upon revolt. Middle East Report 258:30–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Compared to the Egyptian Revolution, Tunisians witnessed a more decisive role of trade unions in the mobilization of the uprising. This is one of the best pieces on this issue. Though only two pages, it is an entertaining interview by Chris Toensing, an editor of the Middle East Research and Information Project, with four union leaders from Tunisia.

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                                                                                                                                                                      Youth

                                                                                                                                                                      One of the common theories about the Arab Spring is that it was led mainly by middle-class educated youth (Staeheli, and Nagel 2013). This may be a reductionist claim. But it is a fact that the Arab World is youthful demographically (Al-Momani 2011, LaGraffe 2012). Some important works situate the role of youth in the history of activism in specific contexts like Egypt (Shehata 2012). There has been also some discussion on the region’s millennial generation and on how this youth population has networked (Cole 2015). The relationship between segments of this generation and the new media is also important (Herrera and Sakr 2014). Thus, it is not surprising to see many works about the youth and the region in the context of the Arab Spring (Hoffman and Jamal 2012). Some scholars criticize the simplistic generational discussion about youth and the Arab Spring (Murphy 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                      • Al-Momani, Mohammad. 2011. The Arab “youth quake”: Implications on democratization and stability. Middle East Law and Governance 3.1–2: 159–170.

                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1163/187633711X591521Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                        The article is a good introduction to the thesis that it was educated youth who comprised the uprisings in the region. Though the thesis is simplistic and, arguably, overly optimistic, the article does note that the youthful nature of the region suggests democratization and pressures for reform will continue.

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                                                                                                                                                                        • Cole, Juan. 2015. The new Arabs: How the millennial generation is changing the Middle East. New York: Simon and Schuster.

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                                                                                                                                                                          Drawing on numerous interviews and extensive documentary evidence, leading historian and blogger Juan Cole writes this fascinating book about the millennial generation. The book offers many insights about the history of political blogging in the region. There are three chapters on Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, respectively. It is the only book, to my knowledge, that deals in this way with the generational dimension of politics in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                          • Herrera, Linda, and Rehab Sakr, eds. 2014. Wired citizenship: Youth learning and activism in the Middle East. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                            The book explores many important themes such as the rise of youth as political actors and digital media activism and/or citizen journalism in the region. It is an edited volume of twelve chapters that covers more topics and cases—for example, in addition to Egypt and Tunisia, Turkey, Morocco, Palestine, Iran, and Pakistan are also included.

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                                                                                                                                                                            • Hoffman, Michael, and Amaney Jamal. 2012. The youth and the Arab Spring: Cohort differences and similarities. Middle East Law and Governance 4.1: 168–188.

                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1163/187633712X632399Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                              It is one thing to argue that the Arab Spring was constituted or led by youth, but quite another to actually study the views of this generation. This interesting piece does the latter. In addition to providing strong demographic descriptions of Arab youth, the article includes discussion on their views on religion, politics, secularism, and their regimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                              • LaGraffe, Daniel. 2012. The youth bulge in Egypt: An intersection of demographics, security, and the Arab Spring. Journal of Strategic Security 5.2: 65–80.

                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.5038/1944-0472.5.2.4Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                Daniel LaGraffe is a scholar in the US Department of Defense. The article is an interesting read that deals with the question of the “youth bulge.” A youth bulge is a concept used by demographers to refer to the case where the majority of the population are youth. But because this article is written from a security perspective, it frames its discussion of youth in terms of potential social unrest or a “new population bomb” (p. 74).

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                                                                                                                                                                                • Murphy, Emma C. 2012. Problematizing Arab youth: Generational narratives of systemic failure. Mediterranean Politics 17.1: 5–22.

                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2012.655043Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                  Emma Murphy calls for situating the generational question in the Middle East in its economic, social, and political context. In other words, Murphy argues here against treating a specific narrative on the youth generation in the region as only a question of pure demography separate from politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                  • Shehata, Dina. 2012. Youth movements and the 25 January revolution. In Arab Spring in Egypt: revolution and beyond. Edited by B. Korany and R. El-Mahdi, 105–124. New York: American Univ. in Cairo Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774165368.003.0007Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                    This is the best article about the role of youth coalitions in the making of the Egyptian revolution. It is very rich with details about the history behind the making of the Youth Coalition of Revolution as well as the networks that brought many youth together in the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                    • Staeheli, Lynn, and Caroline R. Nagel. 2013. Whose awakening is it? Youth and the geopolitics of civic engagement in the “Arab Awakening.” European Urban and Regional Studies 20.1: 115–119.

                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1177/0969776412460536Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                      The authors call for revisiting international and European programs for civic engagement that deal with the youth in the region. They discuss an interesting paradox of these programs: where on the one hand they include the goal of boosting the Western donor’s image in the region, but at the same time they are working to promote civil engagement among many youth who are skeptical about the programs and do not trust the West.

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                                                                                                                                                                                      Women and Gender

                                                                                                                                                                                      Instead of simple discussions about whether or not women participated in the uprisings, or complaining how far they participated and but did not gain from the uprisings, most of the works in this list provide useful insights about gendered analysis of the uprisings (Al-Ali 2012, Johansson-Nogués 2013) or provide thicker analysis about women as agency in the uprisings or how to apply feminist critical and reflexive methodology to analyze the uprisings (El-Said, et al. 2015; Moruzzi 2013; Naber 2011b; Newsom and Lengel 2012; Sjoberg and Whooley 2015). Most importantly some scholars attempted to cricize simplistic Western analyses about the role of gender in the uprisings (Abu-Lughod and El-Mahdi 2011; Naber 2011a).

                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abu-Lughod, Lila, and Rabab El-Mahdi. 2011. Beyond the “woman question” in the Egyptian revolution. Feminist Studies 37.3: 683–691.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        This article is an edited version of a conversation that took place between El-Mahdi and Abu-Lughod at the Barnard Center for Research on Women, New York, 23–24 September 2011. The article includes some of the most grounded and critical insights about the role of women, the challenges faced by women, and women’s rights during the Egyptian uprising and its aftermath.

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                                                                                                                                                                                        • Al-Ali, Nadje. 2012. Gendering the Arab Spring. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 5.1: 26–31.

                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1163/187398612X624346Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                          Nadje Al-Ali is a prominent cultural anthropologist who has been writing about women and Middle Eastern feminism for decades. In this article, she proposes that we have to go beyond the simple discussion of women’s role in the Arab Spring to recognize, instead, that both revolutions and counter-revolutionary processes are fundamentally gendered. She discusses many good examples from the Arab Spring to support her argument.

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                                                                                                                                                                                          • El Said, Maha, Lena Meari, and Nicola Pratt, eds. 2015. Rethinking gender in revolutions and resistance: Lessons from the Arab world. London: Zed Books.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            Edited by three academics who know the region well, this volume includes essays that cover topics ranging from Islamic feminism to body politics, feminist uses of culture in the revolution, and the tensions and relations between secular and Islamic feminism. A great read for sociology of the Middle East classes and for a gendered perspective on revolutions and social movements in general. The introduction and conclusion written by the editors are especially good.

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                                                                                                                                                                                            • Johansson-Nogués, Elisabeth. 2013. Gendering the Arab Spring? Rights and (in)security of Tunisian, Egyptian and Libyan women. Security Dialogue 44.5–6: 393–409.

                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1177/0967010613499784Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                              Similar to the essay by Nadje Al-Ali (Al-Ali 2012), this piece also includes a useful comparison of Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                              • Moruzzi, Norma Claire. 2013. Gender and the revolutions: Critique interrupted. Middle East Research and Information Project.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                The author argues that if there is one message to take from the Arab Spring regarding gender, it is the need to go beyond colonial debates around the veil. Moruzzi explains how feminist activists challenged patriarchy during the uprisings and how the battle with the state continues after the uprisings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                • Naber, Nadine. 2011a. Imperial feminism, Islamophobia, and the Egyptian Revolution. Jadaliyya (11 February).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  Naber criticizes simplistic accounts by Western media and academics that stereotyped women in the uprisings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Naber, Nadine. 2011b. Women and the Arab Spring: Human rights from the ground up. International Institute Journal 1.1 (Fall): 11–13.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    This short piece is great for undergraduate courses on women in the Arab Spring. The author proposes that a proper feminist understanding of women’s role in the uprisings should be connected to the structural economic and social issues that motivated women activists and shaped their work in the uprisings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Newsom, Victoria A., and Lara Lengel. 2012. Arab women, social media, and the Arab Spring: Applying the framework of digital reflexivity to analyze gender and online activism. Journal of International Women’s Studies 13.5: 31–45.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      This article is part of a special issue of the Journal of International Women’s Studies. Because most discussions of women in the Arab Spring have focused on Egypt, this entire volume is a valuable contribution, given its inclusion of articles in other contexts, such as Bahrain, Tunisia, Jordan, and Kuwait. This particular article is interesting because it applies a feminist reflexive methodology to study activism during the uprisings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sjoberg, Laura, and Jonathon Whooley. 2015. The Arab Spring for women? Representations of women in Middle East politics in 2011. Journal of Women, Politics & Policy 36.3: 261–284.

                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1080/1554477X.2015.1050902Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                        The authors of this article use Western feminist frameworks to argue against simplistic narratives on gender as problematic and as emancipation. The authors argue that these simple narratives use “women as a barometer for the success of Westernization, liberalization, and democratization” (p 261).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                        Islamists

                                                                                                                                                                                                        There is a scholarly obsession with Islamists and Islamic movements in the region and their role in the Arab Spring. This is due not only to the continued dominance of Orientalist perspectives on the Middle East, but also to the fact that it was political Islamists who staged the first free elections in Egypt and Tunisia. The following is a selected list of important works. Some analyze the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt (Al-Arian 2014; Kandil 2015; Wickham 2015). Others analyze the challenges confronted by the Islamic parties during and after the uprisings (Al-Anani 2012, El Sherif 2011). Some works give attention to Ennahda Party in Tunisia (Hashemi 2013), or study the specific role of Salafi groups in Tunisia or compare two Islamic parties in the region (Torelli, et al. 2012; Torelli 2012). Some works offer an overall investigation of the role and the fate of political Islam in the region (Bayat 2013, Chamkhi 2014)

                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Al-Anani, Khalil. 2012. Islamist parties post–Arab Spring. Mediterranean Politics 17.3: 466–472.

                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2012.725309Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                          Khalil Al-Anani is an expert on the Muslim Brotherhood. Here, Al-Anani talks about the Islamists’ participation in the uprisings, as well as their internal contradictions. It is a useful read especially because it highlights the agenda, hopes, and challenges of Islamists in 2012.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Al-Arian, Abdullah. 2014. Answering the call: Popular Islamic activism in Sadat’s Egypt. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931279.001.0001Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                            This historical book does not cover the events of the Arab Spring, but it does provide important background for the most important Islamic group in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Historian Abdullah Al-Arian sheds light on important documents and events while the MB was still underground during the Sadat regime, and slightly coming to surface and gaining some political space in a passive revolution style. A good read for history and sociology classes on the Middle East.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bayat, Asef, ed. 2013. Post-Islamism: The many faces of political Islam. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              Edited by Asef Bayat, a prominent sociologist of the Middle East, the book is an elaboration of the politics of post-Islamism, a concept that Bayat developed, and political Islam in the region. The essays cover Islamists in Turkey, Sudan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Iran. The book is an outstanding read for a class on sociology of Islam and/or sociology of religion, and sociology of the Middle East in general.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Chamkhi, Tarek. 2014. Neo-Islamism in the post–Arab Spring. Contemporary Politics 20.4: 453–468.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1080/13569775.2014.970741Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                The author argues that the Arab Spring witnessed the emergence of what he theorizes as neo-Islamists. These neo-Islamists are characterized by non-traditional forms of religiosity; belief in a gradual application of Islamism; belief in the modernization of Islam; nationalist thinking; and belief in pragmatic relations with the West. This is an interesting argument and worth discussing.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                • El Sherif, Ashraf. 2011. Islamism after the Arab Spring. Current History 110.740: 358.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  In this short article, El Sherif offers sharp, skeptical observations about the role of Islamists in the aftermath of the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia. These include: the varieties of political Islamists’ experience, their conflicts on their views about the role of Islam in the state, and their rigid organizational structures. Against the overemphasis on the conflict between Islamists and secularists, El Sherif points to issues within Islamists themselves.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hashemi, Nader. 2013. Why Islam (properly understood) is the solution: Reflections on the role of religion in Tunisia’s democratic transition. American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 30.4: 137–145.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    One of the most important questions in mainstream analyses of the Middle East is why the al-Nahda Party of Tunisia seemed to be successful in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The article answers this question.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kandil, Hazem. 2015. Inside the Brotherhood. Malden, MA: Polity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Sociologist Hazem Kandil attempts to do many things in this book, but above all he succeeds in delving into the ideological components of the MB and their recruitment methods. He covers some of the contemporary battles of the last two decades that made the MB the way it is today—a conservative/pragmatic and arguably even anti-revolutionary political machine, though it presents itself otherwise. An accessible read about the oldest Islamic group in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Torelli, Stefano Maria. 2012. “The AKP Model” and Tunisia’s al-Nahda: From convergence to competition? Insight Turkey 14.3: 65–83.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the sociology and politics of the Middle East there is much discussion of what is called the “Turkish model of political Islam,” referring to the AKP party and their successful gradual path to power. This article deals with an important issue in this context—the relation between the al-Nahda party with their Turkish counterpart, as well as the lessons they can learn from it.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Torelli, Stefano M., Fabio Merone, and Francesco Cavatorta. 2012. Salafism in Tunisia: Challenges and opportunities for democratization. Middle East Policy 19.4: 140–154.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4967.2012.00566.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Why did a group of fundamentalist preachers decide to become political? One of the biggest surprises of the Arab Spring was the emergence of Salafi groups in politics. This article examines the Salafis in Tunisia during the Tunisian revolution and offers the authors’ perspective on how this group is navigating politics.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Wickham, Carrie Rosefsky. 2015. The Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist movement. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1515/9781400866243Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This book charts the Muslim Brotherhood from their emergence to their role in the 2011 revolution. This book gives more attention to the MB’s relation to the regime and electoral politics. It has good insights about surviving years of repression until emerging in the aftermath of the uprising. The theoretical introduction is a very useful read on the difficulty of understanding Islamic political movement “for change.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Christians and Minorities

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The question of minorities has been prevailing in the Arab uprisings. Though this is not a comprehensive list by any means, it provides some examples of works about this question. Most of the works here are about Christians in Egypt. But there is also one work that discusses the question of Christians in Syria (Khoury 2011). Some works discuss the aspirations of minorities and their calculation about participating in the uprisings (Guirguis 2012). Some works situate the question of minorities in history, or investigate the contemporary challenges during the transitional period, or discuss the overall debates about minorities during and after the uprisings (Khorshid 2014; Sedra 2012; Sedra 2014; Zuhur 2014). Two works analyze the Kurdish question specifically (Stansfield 2013, Noi 2012).Other works highlight the overall fundamental character of the minorities question in the region (el-Issawi 2011).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • el-Issawi, Fatima. 2011. The Arab Spring and the challenge of minority rights: Will the Arab revolutions overcome the legacy of the past? European View 10.2: 249–258.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1007/s12290-011-0183-1Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                              As indicated by the subtitle, the author asks one of the most common questions posed by Western media and scholarship when the Arab Spring started. Written in 2011, the author expressed skepticism about events given the preeminence of political Islam in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Guirguis, Magdi. 2012. The Copts and the Egyptian Revolution: Various attitudes and dreams. Social Research 79.2: 511–530.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                This article provides an interesting discussion of Copts’ perspective on the Egyptian revolution. The author gives a historical answer to why the church and the Christian elite were closer to the state and opposed the revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Khorshid, Sara. 2014. Egypt: How the revolution has impacted the debate over minority rights and multiculturalism. In Multiculturalism and democracy in North Africa: Aftermath of the Arab Spring. Edited by Moha Ennaji, 223–244. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This chapter appears in an edited volume on multiculturalism and democracy in North Africa in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The author analyzes the politicization of the Christian question in Egypt before and after the revolution by analyzing the stances of the main political and religious groups, in addition to the state.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Khoury, Doreen. 2011. Is it Winter or Spring for Christians in Syria?. Heinrich Böll Stiftung Middle East.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Khoury touches upon the important issue of the dilemma Christians have faced in Syria, especially after the uprising in 2011 and its aftermath.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Noi, Unver Aylin. 2012. The Arab Spring, its effects on the Kurds, and the approaches of Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq on the Kurdish issue. Middle East Review of International Affairs 16.2: 15–29.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Noi provides an important analysis about how Kurds have been entangled between four countries. She explains how Kurds saw the Arab Spring as an opportunity for their own spring, and that external forces have used the Kurdish cause to intervene in the region. She concludes that this cause “has also been used by Turkey, Iran, Syria, and Iraq against each other to counter each other’s domination of the region.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Sedra, Paul. 2012. Reconstituting the Coptic community amidst revolution. Middle East Report 265 (Winter): 34–38.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Paul Sedra is a historian who studies Copts in Egypt. In the article, Sedra provides some sharp insights about the Coptic community in the aftermath of the uprising in 2012. Sedra especially emphasizes the relationship between the state and the Orthodox Church on the one hand, the Orthodox Church and its hierarchy in relation to the Coptic community on the other. Sedra discusses the sectarian tensions and issues surrounding selecting the new pope for the church in Egypt.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Sedra, Paul. 2014. Copts and the Millet partnership: The intra-communal dynamics behind Egyptian sectarianism. Journal of Law and Religion 29.3: 491–509.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1017/jlr.2014.26Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Sedra discusses the church elite (the Millet Council in the Coptic Church) and their sectarian tendency.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Stansfield, Gareth. 2013. The unravelling of the post–First World War state system? The Kurdistan region of Iraq and the transformation of the Middle East. International Affairs 89.2: 259–282.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1111/1468-2346.12017Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Written by an expert on the Gulf region, this article discusses the Kurdish question with an emphasis on the geopolitics of the larger Kurdistan region. The article does not discuss the Arab Spring per se, but situates the Kurdistan region within issues of oil, resources, and security in the area, with a critical focus on oil pipelines routes and the role of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Zuhur, Sherifa. 2014. Claiming space for minorities in Egypt after the Arab Spring. In Multiculturalism and democracy in North Africa: Aftermath of the Arab Spring. Edited by Moha Ennaji, 246–274. New York: Routledge.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This chapter discusses not only the Coptic question but also other minorities in Egypt such as Jews, Shiʿa, Bahai, Bedouin, Nubians and Berbers, Beja-speakers, and Sudanese.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Other Organized Groups

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              One of negative aspects of an overemphasis on simplistic analyses of youth in the region is ignoring how organized youth cut across classes and how a wide range of organized groups were formed within this youth population. The following works discuss these groups. Some highlight the role of specific liberal/neo-leftist groups such as the April 6 Movement and the revolutionary socialists in Egypt (Cole 2012, Hafez 2013), anarchists (Stephens 2013), and football fans (Dorsey 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Cole, Juan. 2012. Egypt’s New Left versus the military junta. Social Research 79.2: 487–510.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                It is unfortunate that so much discussion has focused on the role of Islamists in the region, as there are so many other groups that played important roles leading up to and during the uprisings themselves. This article covers two such groups in Egypt—the liberal April 6 Movement and the neo-Trotskyist revolutionary socialists.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Dorsey, James. 2012. Pitched battles: The role of Ultra soccer fans in the Arab Spring. Mobilization 17.4: 411–418.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  One of the most important organized groups in Egypt now consists of organized soccer fans. In addition to battling police during games, they played an important role in the uprising. This article covers the issue.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hafez, Bassem Nabil. 2013. New social movements and the Egyptian Spring: A comparative analysis between the April 6 Movement and the revolutionary socialists. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology 12.1–2: 98–113.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1163/15691497-12341245Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Like Juan Cole’s piece (Cole 2012), this article looks at the role played by organized groups other than the Islamists in the revolution, only the author applies the new social movement framework to do so. It would be useful to read this and Cole 2012 together.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Stephens, Joshua. 2013. Anarchism in Egypt: An interview from Tahrir Square. Waging Nonviolence (2 July).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The role of leftist groups and anarchists in the Arab Spring is understudied. This is not an academic article, but rather an interview with an anarchist who participated in the Egyptian Revolution and its aftermath. The interview was conducted in 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Arts, Repertoires, and Space

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Culture broadly and arts specifically matter in any major political and social event, let alone uprisings. Uprisings also take place in given temporal and spatial contexts. Performances matter too in social movements. Though it is difficult to disentangle these categories, the following list is divided into three subcategories: arts, repertoires, and space. This is because these three categories have been crucial in the Arab Spring.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Arts

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The Arab Spring witnessed so many important cultural phenomena, from singing in Tahrir Square and rallies to the rise of graffiti. Though it is impossible to cover all of these areas in one comprehensive list, the following provides a good sampling. Some works here focus on graffiti (Abaza 2012) or the role of media and circulating pictures of martyrs (Halverson, et al. 2013). Other works focus on the role of arts and symbols, poetry and music in the uprisings (Mehrez 2012; Saad 2012; Swedenburg 2012). One scholar (Mehta 2013) chose to write about specific young revolutionary artist. Leading cultural sociologist Jeffery Alexander highlights the significance of performance in the Egyptian uprising (Alexander 2011).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Abaza, Mona. 2012. Walls, segregating downtown Cairo and the Mohammed Mahmud Street graffiti. Theory, Culture & Society 30.1: 122–139.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Sociologist Mona Abaza writes about the battles over graffiti in Egypt in the aftermath of the revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Alexander, Jeffrey C. 2011. Performative revolution in Egypt: An essay in cultural power. London and New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Jeffery Alexander, prominent social theorist and cultural sociologist, applies his famous theoretical toolkit on the Egyptian uprising. The book includes high quality analysis and classifications of the battles of narratives between the Mubarak regime and Egyptian protestors during the uprising in 2011. It is a must read for a class on culture, the role of performance in contention broadly.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Halverson, Jeffry R., Scott W. Ruston, and Angela Trethewey. 2013. Mediated martyrs of the Arab Spring: New media, civil religion, and narrative in Tunisia and Egypt. Journal of Communication 63.2: 312–332.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            How were images of martyrs such as Mohamed Bouazizi of Tunisia and Khaled Saeed of Egypt used and appropriated in virtual spaces and cultural scenes in both countries in order to critique the old regimes? The authors of this article explore this question.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Mehrez, Samia, ed. 2012. Translating Egypt’s revolution: The language of Tahrir. New York: American Univ. in Cairo Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Edited by a cultural critic and professor of literature, this excellent volume covers many topics related to performance, culture, translations, and symbols in the Egyptian Revolution. Mehrez’s introduction, in particular, is a beautiful text on the poetics of the revolution and the problems of translation. The whole volume is a great read for classes on the sociology of culture and arts, and also on the “uses” of culture and arts in movements.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Mehta, Brinda. 2013. Staging Tahrir: Laila Soliman’s revolutionary theatre. Review of Middle East Studies 47.1: 49–55.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The author writes about the Egyptian performer and activist Laila Soliman. It is a very interesting read about doing theater in the time of revolution and the relationship between the stage and the street.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Saad, Reem. 2012. The Egyptian Revolution: A triumph of poetry. American Ethnologist 39.1: 63–66.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  It is a wonderful piece on the role of poetry in both the Egyptian and the Tunisian uprisings, especially in the key slogans chanted by protestors. Beautifully written by anthropologist Reem Saad.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Swedenburg, Ted. 2012. Hip-hop of the revolution (The sharif don’t like it). Middle East Research and Information Project (MERIP) Blog.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Ted Swedenburg, a scholar of the region’s pop culture, describes how hip hop was used by activists and artists in Egypt and Tunisia. It is a very short post. But it is very informative and it can be great in classroom discussions especially if coupled with watching some of the videos mentioned in the post. Most of these are available on YouTube.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Repertoires

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Many different repertoires of contention were used during the Arab Spring. Some scholars have focused on the use of social media in protests. Others have examined the dynamics of street politics, and the rise of occupation as a dominant tactic of protest. The following are just some works that cover these issues. Specifically, some scholars here discuss the role of social media as repertoires (Hamdy and Gomaa 2012; Harlow 2013). Others discuss the tension and the relation between social media and protest as a paradigm (Harlow and Johnson 2011). Some scholars discuss the problematic of street protests in the uprisings and its aftermath (El-Ghobashy 2011). Some scholars analyze the significant role of protest camps (McCurdy, et al. 2015; Mitchell 2012; Ramadan 2013) while others investigate the role and the limits of diffusion during the Arab Spring (Saideman 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • El-Ghobashy, Mona. 2011. Politics by other means: In Egypt street protests set the agenda. Boston Review (1 November).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This is a historical piece in the sense that it documents and theorizes the tension between the continuation of street protests in the aftermath of the Egyptian Revolution and the newly formed and elected parliament. It is extremely well-written and deals with the important topic of revolutionary repertoires during the time of transition.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • McCurdy, Patrick, Anna Feigenbaum, and Fabian Frenzel. 2015. Protest camps and repertoires of contention. Social Movement Studies 15.1: 97–104.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The authors discuss the global rise of occupation as a repertoire of contention in protests post-2010. They propose a four-dimensional framework to scrutinize the specificity and the infrastructure of this repertoire; for each “occupy” camp, the framework considers: (1) media and communication, (2) action, (3) governance, and (4) recreation within each camp.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Mitchell, William J. T. 2012. Image, space, revolution: The arts of occupation. Critical Inquiry 39.1: 8–32.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This article appeared in a special issue of Critical Inquiry titled “Occupy: Three Inquiries in Disobedience.” William John Thomas Mitchell, distinguished professor of English and art history at the University of Chicago, edited the issue. In this piece, Mitchell connects the idea of occupation as a repertoire with its global image and circulation. This is an excellent discussion of occupation as an art, a repertoire, and a now iconic image that represents for many the movements in 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Hamdy, Naila, and Ehab H. Gomaa. 2012. Framing the Egyptian uprising in Arabic-language newspapers and social media. Journal of Communication 62.2: 195–211.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is very interesting article that examines the framing battles between the government, semi-government, and alternative media during the Egyptian uprisings. It is based on analysis of a great dataset of Arabic language content from newspapers and social media that covers the period from 25 January 2011 to 12 February 2011.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Harlow, Summer. 2013. It was a “Facebook revolution”: Exploring the meme-like spread of narratives during the Egyptian protests. Fue una “Revolución de Facebook”: Explorando la narrativa de los meme. Revista de comunicación 12:59.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Through the use of textual analysis of Facebook texts, the article includes a good interwoven analysis of communication and social movement literature. Analyzing social media as carriers of narratives, memes, and “bundle of stories” was especially interesting in this article.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Harlow, Summer, and Thomas J. Johnson. 2011. The Arab Spring| Overthrowing the protest paradigm? How the New York Times, Global Voices and Twitter covered the Egyptian Revolution. International Journal of Communication 5:1359–1374.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Though discussion of the role of social media in the Arab Spring is often overblown, this article provides an important critique of coverage of the Egyptian uprisings, particularly the overemphasis on the role of social media and relative inattention to the protest paradigm. The article would be especially helpful to launch discussion in undergraduate courses, particularly in light of the Arab Spring, Occupy Wall Street, and other new movements in the United States such as Black Lives Matter.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Ramadan, Adam. 2013. From Tahrir to the world: The camp as a political public space. European Urban and Regional Studies 20.1: 145–149.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Though similar to Mitchell 2012, this author focuses more on life within the famous Tahrir camp as a democratic space for protestors—yet another aspect of the occupation as a repertoire of contention.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Saideman, Stephen M. 2012. When conflict spreads: Arab Spring and the limits of diffusion. International Interactions 38.5: 713–722.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Scholars of social movements often analyze diffusion as if it were a neutral process or taken for granted as a “good” thing—the spread of free-floating information and cultural idioms or repertoires. In this article, the author uses the interesting cases of Libya and Syria during the Arab Spring to remind us of the other side of the coin, so to speak: government repression in response to diffusion.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Space

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Space and spatiality constitute a crucial aspect of the Arab Spring. One need only look at the tactic of occupation—or, put differently, the liberating of public spaces, the use of social media, and the urban nature of the uprisings—to see the significance of space. Examples here are works that discuss the spatialities of occupation and the significant role of space in general (Tawil-Souri 2012, Monterescu and Shaindlinger 2013) or analyzing the history and the performances relating to specific places such as Tahrir Square (Gregory 2013, Said 2015). Some works give attention to the urban nature of the uprisings while focusing on the role of cities (Allegra, et al. 2013; Lipietz and Lopes de Souza 2012). Some scholars also discuss the geography of specific uprisings such as the Tunisian one (Ayeb 2011) and the role of regionalism in uprisings such as the Yemeni case (Day 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Allegra, Marco, Irene Bono, Jonathan Rokem, Anna Casaglia, Roberta Marzorati, and Haim Yacobi. 2013. Rethinking cities in contentious times: The mobilisation of urban dissent in the “Arab Spring.” Urban Studies 50.9: 1675–1688.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Was the Arab Spring only urban and only occurring in cities? This is an important question. This article deals with this important issue. The article also touches upon the question in what ways cities and the nature of urban development in these cities shaped the uprisings.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Ayeb, Habib. 2011. Social and political geography of the Tunisian Revolution: The Alfa Grass Revolution. Review of African Political Economy 38.129: 467–479.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In one of the best articles about the Tunisian Revolution, Tunisian human geographer Habib Ayeb links the role of underdevelopment and impoverished areas to the escalation of the uprising. Ayeb provides a great discussion of the role of marginalized groups, as well as a rigorous analysis of the temporal and spatial escalation of the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Day, Stephen W. 2012. Regionalism and rebellion in Yemen: A troubled national union. Cambridge Middle East Studies 37. New York: Cambridge Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The role of regional developmental and political divisions has been crucial in shaping the trajectory of several uprisings in the region, particularly Yemen and Libya. This book examines the case of Yemen.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Gregory, Derek. 2013. Tahrir: Politics, publics and performances of space. Middle East Critique 22.3: 235–246.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The author connects the significance of digital politics with notions of public space, as well as the central role of Tahrir Square in the Egyptian Revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Lipietz, Barbara, and Marcelo Lopes de Souza. 2012. Introduction: Where do we stand? New hopes, frustration and open wounds in Arab cities. City 16.3: 355–359.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The authors, experts on urban planning and geography, situate the grievances of the Arab Spring in the context of the uneven development of Arab cities.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Monterescu, D., and N. Shaindlinger. 2013. Situational radicalism: The Israeli “Arab Spring” and the (un)making of the rebel city. Constellations 20.2: 229–253.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The authors analyze the protests in Tel Aviv in the summer of 2011 inspired by the Arab Spring. The article includes great discussion of the issues of regional solidarity, the diffusion of protests, and urban development. It is a strong theoretical piece that reflects the authors’ interest in the concept of “situational radicalism,” which they define as a state of discrepancies of multiple grammars of revolt (p. 2).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Rabbat, Nasser. 2012. The Arab revolution takes back the public space. Critical Inquiry 39.1 (Autumn): 198–208.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Written by an expert on the architecture of the region, this is a great read about the physicality of streets and mosques in relation to protests and their history in the region, particularly in Egypt and Syria. Beautifully written and historically grounded.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Said, Atef. 2015. We ought to be here: Historicizing space and mobilization in Tahrir Square. International Sociology 30.4: 348–366.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Examining the central role of space in the Arab Spring, the author proposes three ways that the histories of places were constitutive of and important to the uprisings. While building on and expanding the work of Charles Tilly and William Sewell on the role of space in contentious politics, the author addresses the different meanings that Tahrir Square had in the Egyptian Revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Tawil-Souri, Helga. 2012. It’s still about the power of place. Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication 5.1: 86–95.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1163/187398612X624418Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The author, a scholar of media at New York University, argues that social media does not operate in a geographical vacuum. She proposes that any proper understanding of the Arab Spring requires studying the role of digital networks in relation to their physical and territorial dimensions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Social Media and the Arab Spring

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The literature on social media and the Arab Spring is enormous. Thus the following lists only a representative sample. Some of the following works situate the question of social media within the history of online activism prior to the uprisings (Faris 2013; Lim 2012). Mohamed Zayani offers a rich analysis of social media and politics in Tunisia prior and after the uprising (Zayani 2015). Other works link social media to social movement literature (Eltantawy and Wiest 2011). Some works argue that social media do not operate in a social vacuum, or argue against techno-determinism and situate it in global context (Khondker 2011; Wolfsfeld, et al. 2013). One scholar discusses the specificity of social media as a tool, such as the role of Twitter hashtags (Lotan, et al. 2011). Some scholars discuss the question of how far social media was important in the decision to participate in the uprisings (Tufekci and Wilson 2012), or offer a historical theoretical argument about the use of social media in the context of the Arab Spring (Tudoroiu 2014). Some works entail an important theoretical contribution about social media and politics broadly, specifically on social media and politics in general (Howard and Hussain 2013).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Eltantawy, Nahed, and Julie B. Wiest. 2011. The Arab Spring: Social media in the Egyptian Revolution: Reconsidering resource mobilization theory. International Journal of Communication 5:1207–1224.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        This article asks in what ways social media technologies were employed as a resource to support the Egyptian Revolution. The authors call for expanding the theory of resource mobilization, a well-known theory in social movement scholarship, to include digital resources and networks. The paper includes many interesting examples of how people used Twitter and Facebook before and during the revolution.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Faris, David M. 2013. Dissent and revolution in a digital age: Social media, blogging and activism in Egypt. London: IB Tauris.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The author situates the use of social media during the uprising in the history of digital activism in Egypt in the decade before the revolution. The book provides a great discussion of the difficulties that bloggers faced and how this group had begun subverting Mubarak’s authoritarianism. We learn how Internet activism in Egypt shifted from blogging in 2005 to include using Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube by 2008 and beyond.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2013. Democracy’s fourth wave?: Digital media and the Arab Spring. Oxford and New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is a very important book about the digital media and movements and politics broadly. It includes a chapter on the Arab Spring, a good chapter on the relationship between information structure and organization of protest, another about how authoritarian regimes responsed against movements, and another great chapter on Al-Jazeera and social media and digital journalism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Khondker, Habibul Haque. 2011. Role of the new media in the Arab Spring. Globalizations 8.5: 675–679.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              In this article the authors argue against techno-determinism, and insist that social media and Internet activism do not exist in a social and political vacuum. The authors situate their analysis in the context of globalization and its contradictions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Lim, Merlyna. 2012. Clicks, cabs, and coffee houses: Social media and oppositional movements in Egypt, 2004–2011. Journal of Communication 62.2: 231–248.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Like Khondker 2011, this is one of the most frequently cited articles, but it is specific to social media and the Egyptian Revolution. Importantly, it gives attention to the history of social media use in Egypt prior to the revolution. The author is a leading scholar in communication, and she proposes to study social media not only as a tool but also as a space for activism.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Lotan, Gilad, Erhardt Graeff, Mike Ananny, Devin Gaffney, and Ian Pearce. 2011. The Arab Spring| The revolutions were Tweeted: Information flows during the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions. International Journal of Communication 5:1375–1405.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This paper analyzes Twitter information flows during the 2011 Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings. It provides an interesting read about some of the two revolutions’ hashtags and their circulation.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Tudoroiu, Theodor. 2014. Social media and revolutionary waves: The case of the Arab Spring. New Political Science 36.3: 346–365.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The author argues against both “cyber-enthusiasts” and “cyber-skeptics” and calls for situating social media within the concept of waves (of protest). He calls for looking at the role of social media in the Arab Spring as reflecting the intersection of three dimensions: (1) as a method of communication and mobilization, (2) as a tool of domestic and international connection and fervor, and (3) as a means of enhancing pan-Arab solidarity.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Tufekci, Zeynep, and Christopher Wilson. 2012. Social media and the decision to participate in political protest: Observations from Tahrir Square. Journal of Communication 62.2: 363–379.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1111/j.1460-2466.2012.01629.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Probably the most cited article on social media and the Egyptian Revolution, this piece is based on a survey with participants in the revolution. The article includes a useful discussion of the demographics of the participants, the different ways in which they used social media during the uprising, and their varying levels of previous political experience. It is rich with tables and data that are useful to analyze with students.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Wolfsfeld, Gadi, Elad Segev, and Tamir Sheafer. 2013. Social media and the Arab Spring: politics comes first. The International Journal of Press/Politics 18.2: 115–137.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In the same vein as critiques of techno-determinism, this article proposes that we cannot study social media without also considering the political environment. The authors argue that social media activism is most likely to follow protest activity, not vice versa.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Zayani, Mohamed. 2015. Networked publics and digital contention: The politics of everyday life in Tunisia. New York: Oxford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Contrary to many simplistic and celebratory analyses about social media and the Arab Spring, this book offers some of the most historically and ethnographically grounded examinations of the social media and politics and the road to the Tunisian revolution. Some of the important issues the book covers are the role of diaspora networks and the connections between social media and street politics. The book includes a chapter on post-revolutionary Tunisia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Transition and Counter-revolutions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Regardless of whether one was optimistic or skeptical in 2011 when the Arab Spring began, one could understand little without considering the trajectories that led up to that point and being equally attentive to the management of transition. Simply put, one cannot study origins and outcomes without examining the processes in-between. The list below provides a sample of works considering precisely these “in-between” questions. It is divided into three parts. The first part is devoted to transitions of the uprisings, specifically what happened in these troubled transitions. The second part includes analyses about these troubled transitions or works that question the so-called transition paradigm in the first place. This refers to the transition from authoritarianism to democracy. The third part includes readings about the idea of counter-revolutions. It should be noted here that literature in revolution uses terms such as “revolution as a process” and “revolutionary trajectory” as synonyms. The readings below reflect this spirit. Some analyses also discuss the troubled transition in terms of counter-revolutions. The purpose of this bibliography is not to resolve this tension. Thus, even though there may be some overlap between the second and the third subsections, separation is done here for organizational purposes.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Troubled Transitions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The transition of the Arab uprisings was troubled and did not lead to stable or genuine forms of democracy. The transition was based on formalistic forms of democracy (Bhardwaj 2012; Lesch 2014; Moghadam 2013) and included militarization of opposing groups (Bradley 2012) and it involves the undemocratic institution of the military (Said 2012) and or was led by the old corrupt elite (Thiel 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Bhardwaj, Maya. 2012. Development of conflict in Arab Spring Libya and Syria: From revolution to civil war. Washington University International Review 1:76–96.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Why did the Arab Spring turn into civil war in Libya and Syria? This article has some answers. Using Mills methods and qualitative data, the author compares Libya and Syria in terms of the nature of the regime, the territorialities of each country, the militarization of the oppositions, and the role of international influence and regional players.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Bradley, John R. 2012. After the Arab Spring: How Islamists hijacked the Middle East revolts. New York: Macmillan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The book offers an unsophisticated understanding of Islamic movements that separates religion from its political and historical context. For example, the book does not give attention to the role of authoritarian regimes in combating the Arab uprisings, and in some cases the cooperation of regimes and Islamists to contain the Arab Spring. But the argument the book presents is a popular one and thus it is worth reading.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Lesch, Ann M. 2014. Troubled political transitions: Tunisia, Egypt and Libya. Middle East Policy 21.1: 62–74.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/mepo.12057Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Albeit all share the outcome of stumbled transition to democracy, Ann Lesch explains how this happened but in different trajectories in the three cases: Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Moghadam, Valentine M. 2013. What is democracy? Promises and perils of the Arab Spring. Current Sociology 61.4: 393–408.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  Sociologist and expert on gender and revolutions, Moghadam tries to go beyond the simple meanings of democracy and democratization in political science to discuss what she describes as the prospects for genuine democracy. Such prospects, she argues, must take into consideration gender dynamics and the role of gender in the democratization of the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Said, Atef. 2012. The paradox of transition to “democracy” under military rule. Social Research 79.2: 397–434.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    In this article, the author offers an explanation to one of the most problematic questions regarding the Egyptian uprising: how and why did the transition come to be led by the military in the first place? How can one make sense of a transition to “democracy” led by the same military that was part of the previous regime? This was perhaps the most foundational problem in the failure of the transition in Egypt.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Thiel, Tobias. 2012. Yemen’s Arab Spring: From youth revolution to fragile political transition. London School of Economics paper.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Leaders of Saudi Arabia and the US administration may have been celebrating the Yemeni contained transition or the transition deal sponsored by the Saudi regime in 2012. But scholar Tobias Thiel explains the tension between the tribal leadership, regional elites, and the Yemeni youth. He explains how youth were betrayed in the transition plan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Why the Troubled Transitions?

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The transition in most Arab Spring countries was troubled because fear was deeply rooted among political groups and vis-à-vis the state (Asad 2012), and revolutionary coalitions were fragile (Maddy-Weitzman 2012). Transitions were not successful also because the most important organized forces were undemocratic, specifically the militaries and the Islamists (Brown 2013; El Sherif 2014; Létourneau 2016). The middle class also was not supportive of radical changes (Challand 2015, Tobin 2012), and the crisis of security, in the aftermath of uprising, also damaged the transition (Daragahi 2015).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Asad, Talal. 2012. Fear and the ruptured state: Reflections on Egypt after Mubarak. Social Research 79.2: 271–298.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Prominent anthropologist of culture, religion, and secularism in the Middle East, Talal Asad offers a fascinating problematization of the different types and dimensions of fear among different groups in the aftermath of the uprising. Countering simple arguments that would posit the end of fear (or breaking the fear barrier) after the revolution, Asad offers a much more complex take.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Brown, Nathan J. 2013. Egypt’s failed transition. Journal of Democracy 24.4: 45–58.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1353/jod.2013.0064Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          This article appears in a special issue of the journal Democracy titled “Tracking the Arab Spring.” Written by Nathan Brown, an expert on Egypt, it offers an assessment of why the transition failed in the aftermath of the military coup in 2013.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Challand, Benoit. 2015. Class, violence and citizenship in the Arab uprisings: Assessing deeper forms of transition. Historein 15.1: 83–101.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.12681/historein.278Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Many writings on transition (or the failure of transition) in the region have relied on simplistic understandings of the secular/religious divide, the military/Islamist relationship, or sectarianism in general. In contrast, Challand offers a critical understanding of the troubled transition to democracy in the region, while situating this in relation to the role of class, neo-liberal policies, and the actions of main groups such as militaries, Islamists, and elites.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Daragahi, Borzou. 2015. Libya: From euphoria to breakdown. North Africa in Transition: The Struggle for Democracies and Institutions, Adelphi Series 55.452: 39–58.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              This is excerpt from a book published by the International Institute for Strategic Studies titled North Africa in Transition: The Struggle for Democracies and Institutions. The author considers the complex reasons why Libya lacked order in the aftermath of getting rid of Gadhafi. Written from a military perspective, however, the chapter only gives one answer which focuses on the security and military apparatus—though, in this case, that factor does seem to have been critical.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Diamond, Larry, Francis Fukuyama, Donald L. Horowitz, and Marc F. Plattner. 2014. Reconsidering the transition paradigm. Journal of Democracy 25.1: 86–100.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The article is a transcribed panel in which four leading experts on democracy present their views. In the text, the four experts problematize the meanings of political transition, and argue against treating the idea of transition from authoritarianism to democracy as a rigid paradigm. It is a very important read.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • El Sherif, Ashraf. 2014. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood’s failures. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1 July).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is the best rigorous piece on the mistakes of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Egypt during their year in power. Without simply blaming the MB, El Sherif explains the organizational, ideological challenges within the MB that impeded it from being really reformist.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Létourneau, Jean-François. 2016. Explaining the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise and fall in Egypt. Mediterranean Politics 21.2: 300–307.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2015.1128673Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This is a review article of four books, including those of Hazem Kandil and Carrie Rosefksy Wickham listed in this bibliography (Kandil 2015 and Wickham 2015, both cited under Islamists). It offers a general overview of the mistakes and the contradictions of the MB.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Maddy-Weitzman, Bruce. 2012. Historic departure or temporary marriage? The left-Islamist alliance in Tunisia. Dynamics of Asymmetric Conflict 5.3: 196–207.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/17467586.2012.745196Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This piece is an interesting read about the short honeymoon period during the Tunisian Uprising and its aftermath. The making of revolutionary coalitions and the honeymoon period are important common themes in the literature of revolutions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Tobin, Sarah A. 2012. Jordan’s Arab Spring: The middle class and anti‐revolution. Middle East Policy 19.1: 96–109.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4967.2012.00526.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Jordan is an understudied case within the Arab Spring, yet the of role of internal societal divisions there and how these mapped onto class divisions during the period of revolutionary fervor is an important topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Counter-revolutions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Counter-revolution found its way to the Arab uprisings, due to military coups or coup-proofing (Fadel 2014; Albrecht 2015a; Albrecht 2015b). Counter-revolution was not only internal but also regionally based (Kamrava 2012). Military coups and civil wars did not come out of nowhere but there is economic and international support for them (Achcar 2016). Counter-revolutions also used sectarianism as a tactic (Al‐Rasheed 2011) and counter-revolutionary forces blocked the rise of a genuine civil state (Hasso 2015). Anthropologist Jessica Winegar also argues that deep class division paved the ground for counter-revolution (Winegar 2012).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Achcar, Gilbert. 2016. Morbid symptoms: Relapse in the Arab uprising. Stanford, CA: Stanford Univ. Press.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Achcar offers strong structural analysis to the seeming success of the counter-revolutions in the Arab Spring, with specific focus on Syria and Egypt. He shows how the corrupt transition and the relapse in the revolutionary process proves his earlier analysis that the revolutions in the Arab world will continue for decades if not more.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Albrecht, Holger. 2015a. The myth of coup-proofing risk and instances of military coups d’état in the Middle East and North Africa, 1950–2013. Armed Forces & Society 41.4: 659–687.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The concept of coup-proofing and the risks around coup making are important in the context of the Middle East. This article offers historical background on the history of coups in the region. It is based on a new dataset on coups in the Middle East and North Africa covering the period 1950–2013. It is useful reading especially with respect to the history and the trajectory of many important coups in the region.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Albrecht, Holger. 2015b. Does coup-proofing work? Political-military relations in authoritarian regimes amid the Arab uprisings. Mediterranean Politics 20.1: 36–54.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Holger uses qualitative comparison and focuses on two specific cases: Egypt and Syria. The article analyzes different coup-proofing strategies taken in the two contexts.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Al‐Rasheed, Madawi. 2011. Sectarianism as counter‐revolution: Saudi responses to the Arab Spring. Studies in Ethnicity and Nationalism 11.3: 513–526.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1754-9469.2011.01129.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                With a strong focus on Bahrain, the article deals with Saudi Arabian funding and sponsoring of sectarian conflicts in the region in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Despite the complex historical underpinnings of sectarianism in the Middle East, it is a fact that sectarianism tensions escalated in the region. Many scholars argue that this escalation was part of a “counter-revolutionary agenda.” The article touches upon this important issue with a focus on Saudi Arabia.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Fadel, Mohamed, ed. 2014. What killed Egyptian democracy? Forum. Boston Review (21 January).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This captures a variety of responses to Mohamed Fadel’s lead article, “What Killed Egyptian Democracy?” From questions of when exactly the transition in Egypt failed and who is to blame—Islamists, liberals, or the military—a number of scholars weigh in: Ellis Goldberg, Micheline Ishay, Nathan Brown, Andrew March, Akbar Ganji, and Anne Norton. It is a great read on this contentious topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Hasso, Frances S. 2015. Civil and the limits of politics in revolutionary Egypt. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 35.3: 605–621.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    Why protestors in Tahrir raised the slogan “we wanted a civil state” (read: not a secular one!), and what role this term played in Egypt during the transition especially in the context of the polarization between Islamists and secular liberals. Feminist sociologist Frances Hasso offers an answer here. Hasso explains how the term was very central in Egyptian politics in the aftermath of the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Kamrava, Mehran. 2012. The Arab Spring and the Saudi-led counterrevolution. Orbis 56.1: 96–104.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1016/j.orbis.2011.10.011Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      This well-cited article explains the stances and some of the justifications of the actions taken by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council during the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Winegar, Jessica. 2012. The privilege of revolution: Gender, class, space, and affect in Egypt. American Ethnologist 39.1: 67–70.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1548-1425.2011.01349.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Cultural anthropologist of Egypt and the Middle East, Jessica Winegar explores the class divisions in Egypt, beyond the simple talk about the class consensus in Tahrir. Based on direct observations she discusses how a sanitized middle class narrative emerged during and in the aftermath of the revolution. Winegar also shows how this narrative was gendered.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Regional and International Dimensions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The international politics of the Arab Spring cannot be ignored in any serious analysis of the subject. The question of the stance of superpowers such as the United States and the European Union (EU) on the Arab Spring is not that simple, but as some scholars in this list show superpowers adapted pragmatic stances about the Arab Spring (Atlas 2012; Dadush and Dunne 2011; Hollis 2012; Perthes 2011; Snider and Faris 2011; Teti 2012). And regional powers such as Turkey were pragmatic as well (Öniş 2012). Gulf monarchies were not supportive of the uprising if not contributing to the backlash after the uprisings (Colombo 2012, Tétreault 2011). The international public may have been supportive and sympathetic but the international world order is not (Mason 2014).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Atlas, Pierre M. 2012. US foreign policy and the Arab Spring: Balancing values and interests. Digest of Middle East Studies 21.2: 353–385.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1949-3606.2012.00158.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The article deals with a classic question in US foreign policy: balancing the democratic values and geopolitical interests, or the conflict between idealist and realist views in foreign policy. The article has a good discussion about these conflicts shaping the US role in the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Colombo, Silvia. 2012. The GCC countries and the Arab Spring: Between outreach, patronage and repression. Paper prepared for the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI). IAI Working Paper 12.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) played an important role in influencing the trajectory of events in the Arab Spring, from direct military intervention in Bahrain, to sponsoring and funding the opposition in Syria to sponsoring a “now failed” transition plan in Yemen. The author explains how goal of the GCC was managing and ensuring stability, and suppressing and or controlling the outcome of these uprisings. The article is an interesting read on this important topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Dadush, Uri, and Michele Dunne. 2011. American and European responses to the Arab Spring: What’s the big idea? The Washington Quarterly 34.4: 131–145.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              DOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2011.610728Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              The article includes a great discussion on the politics of economic aid and economic trade in influencing the respective roles of the United States and western European countries in the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Hollis, Rosemary. 2012. No friend of democratization: Europe’s role in the genesis of the “Arab Spring”. International Affairs 88.1: 81–94.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-2346.2012.01058.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                The article discusses some of the key issues in the EU relation with the Arab Spring. These include the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership (EMP), the European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) agreements, the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM), the EU and the Middle East peace process (MEPP), and regional security.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mason, E. Robert, ed. 2014. The International Politics of the Arab Spring: Popular Unrest and Foreign Policy. The Modern Muslim World. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is an important edited volume on the issue of international politics and the Arab Spring. It includes essays on the United States’ role and the so-called Obama Doctrine on the Arab Spring, the EU role, the Russian role, the role of India and China. It also includes an essay on the responses of Latin American countries to the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Öniş, Ziya. 2012. Turkey and the Arab Spring: Between ethics and self-interest. Insight Turkey 14.3: 45–63.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The author discusses how the Arab Spring challenged not only authoritarian regimes but also regional politics. Studying the case of the Turkish role, the author shows the difficulties that have confronted Turkish policymakers in dealing with the regional entanglement of the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Perthes, Volker. 2011. Europe and the Arab Spring. Survival 53.6: 73–84.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/00396338.2011.636273Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      Written by an expert on security, the article is useful in analyzing the role of the EU in the Arab Spring. The article includes an interesting discussion of the role of NATO in the Arab Spring, as well as how security concerns about the Middle East as well as in Europe shaped the EU role in the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Snider, Erin A., and David M. Faris. 2011. The Arab Spring: US democracy promotion in Egypt. Middle East Policy 18.3: 49–62.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        DOI: 10.1111/j.1475-4967.2011.00497.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The article is similar to Atlas 2012 and a good pair with it. But what is unique in this article and more useful is that the authors discuss the US role and how it was perceived by activists and the media during the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Teti, Andrea. 2012. The EU’s first response to the “Arab Spring”: A critical discourse analysis of the partnership for democracy and shared prosperity. Mediterranean Politics 17.3: 266–284.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1080/13629395.2012.725297Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          The author uses critical discourse analysis (CDA) to analyze an important EU policy reassessment in light of the Arab uprisings, known as the Partnership for Democracy and Shared Prosperity (PfDSP). Through an interesting analysis, the author concluded that Europe is set to continue the earlier mistakes prior to the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Tétreault, Mary Ann. 2011. The winter of the Arab Spring in the gulf monarchies. Globalizations 8.5: 629–637.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            DOI: 10.1080/14747731.2011.621658Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Mary Ann Tétreault is a prominent expert in international relations and the region. In this article, she explains the economic and political conditions of the GCC’s resilience to change as well as the excessive use of force by the council to suppress the uprising in Bahrain.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Outcomes and Future Research Directions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Earlier in this bibliography, I emphasized that the topics in the lists do overlap. One final section on outcome, for example, does overlap with an earlier section on troubled transition and counter-revolutions. Again, it is important to note that some divisions here are done for organizational purposes. This concluding section is divided into two parts. The first part includes some works that problematize the question of outcome of the Arab uprisings. The second part includes some works that draw lessons form the Arab Spring for future research.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Outcomes

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            Most of these argue that it is difficult to assess these outcomes easily. While some argue that the Arab Spring has failed, others insist it remains an unfolding process. To really know what are the outcomes we need to re-think the simplistic understandings of what happened (Abul-Magd 2012). There has been some obsession with spectaclaurity that does not reflect real events on the ground (Nanabhay and Farmanfarmaian 2011). To draw good conclusions we need to think of the complex geo-political surroundings of the Arab Spring (Mamadouh 2013). Real outcomes will take long times (Achcar and Matta 2015) because the old regimes may have been ended but the new order is yet to be formed (Munif 2013). We should also have a thicker understanding about authoritarianism and democracy (Stepan and Linz 2013).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Abul-Magd, Zeinab. 2012. Occupying Tahrir Square: The myths and the realities of the Egyptian Revolution. South Atlantic Quarterly 111.3: 565–572.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Historian Zeinab Abul-Magd debunks the image of the Egyptian Revolution as a peaceful, Cairo-centered protest staged only by middle class youth—a narrative that suggests simply another failed “color revolution.” Instead, Abul-Magd explains how the revolution spread throughout Egypt, involved many poor Egyptians, and occasioned various forms of violence—all of which are important factors to consider when analyzing the fate of the uprising.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • Achcar, Gilbert, and Nada Matta. 2015. What happened to the Arab Spring?. Jacobin (17 December).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                In this interview, Gilbert Achcar defends his analysis that the Arab Spring is a “historical process of revolution” that will unfold “over years and decades.” Achcar discusses the economic and social grievances of the Arab Spring uprisings, as well as the context of counter-revolutionary attacks. It is not about being optimistic or pessimistic, Achcar argues, but about understanding the still unfolding historical processes of the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • Mamadouh, Virginie. 2013. Making sense of ongoing revolutions: Geopolitical and other analyses of the wave of Arab uprisings since December 2010. Geopolitics 18.3: 742–750.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  DOI: 10.1080/14650045.2013.786853Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  This is a review article of six books about the Arab Spring. One of the emerging self-critiques among SMT scholars is that many of their analyses became mobilization- or movement-centered, thus losing sight of political context. Because the author reflects on this issue, the article is a useful read. The geopolitics of the Arab Spring is also another understudied topic.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Munif, Yasser. 2013. The Arab revolts: The old is dying and the new cannot be born. Rethinking Marxism 25.2: 202–217.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1080/08935696.2013.769355Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    The author builds upon the Gramscian concepts of hegemony/counter-hegemony, as well as the notion that the “old is dying but the new cannot be born” to study the cases of Egypt, Syria, and Algeria in 2011. Although the article’s focus is limited to 2011, the Gramscian argument may also be valid and interesting to apply to the aftermath of the Arab Spring.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Nanabhay, Mohamed, and Roxane Farmanfarmaian. 2011. From spectacle to spectacular: How physical space, social media and mainstream broadcast amplified the public sphere in Egypt’s “Revolution.” The Journal of North African Studies 16.4: 573–603.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      DOI: 10.1080/13629387.2011.639562Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The authors discuss how the public space of the Egyptian Revolution was made global through the spectacular nature of images of the revolution. Even though the article focuses on the 2011 uprising, the discussion of “spectacularity” is insightful and could be usefully applied to more recent protests and social movements today.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Stepan, Alfred, and Juan J. Linz. 2013. Democratization theory and the “Arab Spring”. Journal of Democracy 24.2: 15–30.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Written by the two prominent authorities of democratization theory and democratic transition, the article reviews lessons for this theory from the Arab Spring. These include, but are not limited to, the addition of a new regime type (“authoritarian-democratic hybrid”) to the five identified in their earlier work (democratic, authoritarian, totalitarian, post-totalitarian, and sultanistic). They also propose some nuances to distinguish different varieties of sultanistic regimes.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        Research Directions

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        The Arab Spring may have been messy and complex, but this complexity can help us draw lessons to advance our theoretical and analytical frameworks to study contentious politics. The study of the Arab Spring can provide us with lessons to advance our theoretical conventional toolkits such as political opportunity structure (Alimi and Meyer 2011). In the future we should also develop complex frameworks that study the intersections of identity, emotions, and networks (Benski, et al. 2013). As scholars of contentious politics we should not exaggerate the role of horizontalism in movements, because traditional hierarchical forms will not disappear from movements (Davies 2012); scholars should develop thicker analyses about the Internet and movements and politics in general (Farrell 2012). We should also think critically and thickly about diffusion and situate movements and revolutions in global capitalist conditions (della Porta 2015; della Porta and Mattoni 2014; Langman 2013). A significant part of the future task is to broaden our theoretical arsenal and advance the so-called fourth generation of revolutionary theory (Lawson 2016) and have more ethnographic sensitivities specifically for a region such as the Middle East (Pearlman 2015). Against the narrow-minded analyses and limiting our analyses of Social Movement Theory (SMT) paradigms, it is useful to think of the Arab Spring in connection to global uprisings and as an example of rising new global political imaginary (Smaldone 2015).

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Alimi, Eitan Y., and David S. Meyer. 2011. Seasons of change: Arab Spring and political opportunities. Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 475–479.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1111/j.1662-6370.2011.02041.xSave Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Written by two prominent scholars of political opportunity structure, the article suggests an important lesson about the need to expand our perspectives on this approach. The authors call for thinking of political opportunity structures as operating at multiple levels. Protestors in domestic politics, as was the case in the Arab Spring, think about global solidarity and attention.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Benski, Tova, Lauren Langman, Ignacia Perugorría, and Benjamín Tejerina. 2013. From the streets and squares to social movement studies: What have we learned? Current Sociology 61.4: 541–561.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is the conclusion to a special issue of Current Sociology on the relevance of Occupy movements to social movements studies. Rather than focusing only on the narrow relations and tensions of streets and squares on the one hand and social media on the other, the authors call for broader conclusions for social movements studies and thinking about other issues such as identity, ideology and emotions, and actor/network analysis.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            • Davies, Jonathan S. 2012. Why hierarchy won’t go away: Understanding the limits of “horizontalism”. Social Science Research Network (SSRN).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              There has been an expanded and perhaps inflated discussion of the role of horizontalism in the Arab Spring and Occupy protests. Countering this tendency, the author proposes that “an element of hierarchy is the pre-condition of effective solidarity and democratic accountability.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              • della Porta, Donatella. 2015. Social movements in times of austerity: Bringing capitalism back into protest analysis. New York: John Wiley.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Prominent scholar of social movements Donatella della Porta situates protest movements since 2011 within the context of austerity. She asks why social movement scholars “give little attention to the social basis of contentious politics,” despite the growing prevalence of protests against capitalism (p. iv). Della Porta makes important interventions, such as calling to bring class cleavages back into the study of social movements, and the relationship between capitalism and protests.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                • della Porta, Donatella, and Alice Mattoni. 2014. Patterns of diffusion and the transnational dimension of protest in the movements of the crisis: An introduction. In Spreading protest: Social movements in times of crisis. Edited by Donatella della Porta and Alice Mattoni, 1–19. Essex, UK: ECPR.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  The protest wave in the aftermath of the Arab Spring (including Occupy Wall Street and the European Indingado) clearly had transnational dimensions. Understanding this phenomenon requires attention to protests’ patterns of diffusion. The introduction and the conclusion, written by della Porta and Mattoni, offer valuable theorizing of the patterns of diffusions in these movements, as well as some important conclusions.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  • Farrell, Henry. 2012. The consequences of the Internet for politics. Annual Review of Political Science 15:35–52.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    DOI: 10.1146/annurev-polisci-030810-110815Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    This review article situates the discussion in relation to the larger question of the Internet and politics in general. A great theoretical read, especially because the author also considers the methodological implications of the Internet. He proposes that while we should take advantage of the unlimited data the Internet provides, we still need to develop “good causal arguments and attention to their underlying mechanisms” (p. 35).

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    • Langman, Lauren. 2013. Occupy: A new social movement. Current Sociology 61.4: 510–524.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      The author makes a fascinating argument about studying Occupy as a new social movement, bringing the question back to Social Movement Theory (SMT). Langman argues for the need to bring political economy back to SMT and proposes that scholars of social movements should consider these issues in occupy movements: (1) legitimation crisis of global capital, (2) identity, (3) morality, (4) emotions, and (5) visions of Occupy movements.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      • Lawson, George. 2016. Within and beyond the fourth generation of revolutionary theory. Sociological Theory 34 (June):106–127.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        In one of the most refreshing works, Lawson offers a theoretical contribution to revisit and expand the so-called fourth generation of revolutionary theory. He does so in three ways: (1) calls for a processural ontology of revolutions, (2) advocates a relational take on social actions, and (3) develops analyses that studies revolutions as “intersocietal.”

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        • Pearlman, Wendy. 2015. Puzzles, time, and ethnographic sensibilities: Research methods after the Arab Spring. Middle East Law and Governance 7.1: 132–140.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          DOI: 10.1163/18763375-00701002Save Citation »Export Citation »E-mail Citation »

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Wendy Pearlman calls on scholars of Middle East politics to develop better approaches for studying the region. She especially calls for being more sensitive to the complexities of the Internet in research, and also to stop relying solely on rigid and top-down paradigms that do not take into account ethnographic complexities and movements on the ground.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          • Smaldone, Tristan. 2015. The Arab uprisings and the blossoming of a “global imaginary”. Student Pulse 7.6.

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                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            This is very interesting theoretical read. The author integrates Jacques Lacan’s notion of the “social imaginary” as an illusive constructed unity with Ernesto Laclau and Chantal Mouffe’s discourse analysis, with a specific focus on Laclau’s theory of “equivalential chains,” in order to propose the rise of a “new global imaginary” after the Arab Spring.

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