Panel 8d The Arab Uprisings: Multidisciplinary Perspectives

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Chair: Dr John Chalcraft, LSE

Paper 1: Mapping the Arab Uprisings: Places, Spatial Dynamics and Scales
Dr Delphine Pagès-El Karoui, Assistant Professor in Geography, Department of Arabic Studies, French Institute of Eastern Languages and Civilisations (INALCO)

This paper will focus on the spatial dimensions of the Arab uprisings. It will argue that better than referring to the European revolutions of 1848, 1789, and 1989, spatial analysis delivers a path-breaking understanding of this new kind of post-Leninist uprising, without political organization, charismatic leaders or a clear agenda. Place matters a great deal in these uprisings since they occur mainly in urban areas, where the landmarks of the corrupt despotic powers are challenged and sometimes destroyed by angry protesters. The conquest and control of public space in main cities remains crucial for the uprising to succeed. It will also explore the spatial dynamics of the revolts: some revolts start mainly from the peripheries, others are centred on a core city. Finally, it studies the scale of the Arab uprisings. At a global scale, they are linked to the globalisation movements and are a response to liberalization while at the same time each revolution is deeply embedded in national characteristics and has its own time and space. >> download the paper

Paper 2: ‘Subject’ to ‘Citizen’ – The Chances of Democratization in the Arab world
Dr Erzsébet N. Rózsa, Executive Director, Hungarian Institute of International Affairs

The biggest question of the Arab spring is if these neo-patrimonial societies can be developed into democracies, or whether the transition will simply bring about new neo-patrimonial systems. The main indicator and possibly the main drive to democratization would be a strong middle class, especially related to the economy and technocracy, who could accumulate enough power to demand a say in political decision-making. In this regard all Arab countries are different, yet, some patterns can be drawn up between the two extremes of the “ruler-subject” and the “citizen-elected representative” paradigms. This paper claims that the success of democratization can be measured by the transition of the “subject” into a “citizen”. >> download the paper

Paper 3: Unruly Politics Perspectives on the Arab Revolt
Dr Mariz Tadros, Fellow, Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex

The uprisings that ruptured the regional status quo challenge us to rethink our assumptions of pathways to political and social change. This paper examines the nature of activism, subversion and resistance prior to the uprisings, that of unruly politics. It argues that unruly politics is methodologically and analytically useful. On a methodological front, it forces us to think about the spaces through which mobilization occurs. On an analytical front, its very dynamics will mean that the status quo is being shaken at its very fabric. The fact that the forms of agency we saw neither fit the traditional understandings of social movements, nor civil society organizations, nor religio-political forces, suggests that the dominance given to institutionalized forms of activism taking place through organizational hierarchies needs to be revisited. By applying the concept of unruly politics to Egypt, the paper will also seek to expose how very disconnected were the assumed pathways of change (and which much currency in middle eastern, democratization and development literature) with the pulse of the street. >> download the paper

Paper 4: Home-grown Reform – An analysis of Jordanian Policies for Good Governance
Martin Säfström, Director of Studies, Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures, Department of Oriental Languages, Stockholm University

This paper is part of a larger research project and a potential doctoral dissertation, the aim of which is to compare the ideas of good governance in the EU (as stated in the European Neighbourhood Policy) with those in Jordan. The purpose of this paper is to identify and analyse the reforms that have been taken in Jordan regarding good governance, with a focus on the period following the Arab spring and on identifying what the regime means by good governance.

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.
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