[P4845] Activism, Contestation and Political Participation in the Middle East and North Africa

Created by Nadine Sika
Saturday, 11/18/17 5:30pm


The 2010/11 Arab uprisings marked a peak of social mobilization and contestation in the region. In the first two years after the Arab uprisings, much scholarly attention has been given to social movements in the region. However, with the authoritarian reversals and authoritarian upgrading measures in the recent years, the focus of researchers on social mobilization abated. Attention instead re-shifted to the role of Arab regimes and/or militaries in reinstating regime power and sustaining authoritarianism (Brownlee et.al., 2015; Lynch, 2016; Kurzman, 2016). Though the reaction of incumbent Arab regimes is important analytically - as it varied from using excessive coercion against activists, to co-opting others under the regime's umbrella, to employing a few political reforms, to cooperating with regional and international actors - The reaction of social movements to these authoritarian upgrading measures is equally important analytically. During the past few years, social movements have chosen not to directly threaten or challenge the existence of MENA regimes, but have rather centred their contestation processes upon incremental social, political and economic change. Hence, mobilization and participation may not necessarily be directed against a regime per se, but may well include collective action within the confines of these regimes (Albrecht 2008). This means that there have been new and diverse shapes of social contestation and political participation in the region. These have been developing in spite of the increasing authoritarian adaptability of Arab regimes.
This panel is an attempt to understand the dynamics of activism, contestation and participation under new authoritarian rule in the MENA. Some major questions will be addressed like: who are the new social activists in the region? What are their motives for participation? What are their social, economic and political demands? On the other hand, the role of the regimes vis a vis social movements will also be analysed. What are the ways in which public institutions and decision-making circles manage the demands of the social movements?


Pol Science



Ellis Goldberg

(University of Washington)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter; Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

James H. Sunday

(American University in Cairo)
James H. Sunday is assistant professor of methods with an emphasis on comparative politics in the Department of Political Science (POLS) at The American University in Cairo (AUC). In that capacity, he is also program director, overseeing the joint MA...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter; Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Ahmed Abdrabou

(University of Denver)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;