[P6502] The 2011 Arab Uprisings Ten Years On: Their Regional Impact

Created by Alborz Ghandehari
Friday, 12/03/21 2:00 pm


This year (2021) marks the tenth anniversary of the 2011 Arab Uprisings, which collectively became known, particularly in Western media, as the “Arab Spring.” This panel explores social movements in the SWANA (Southwest Asia/North Africa) region over the last ten years to examine the continued legacy of the 2011 uprisings and their impact on related popular struggles which occurred later in the decade. With particular attention to Tunisia, Syria, Iraq, and Iran, we will examine the ways in which movements have continued in spite of state repression, counterrevolutions, foreign military intervention, and so-called “proxy wars.” We will also speak to how these revolts are interconnected with movements in Palestine, Jordan, and Morocco, countries which were less prominent in the “Arab Spring” media coverage. Our analysis also includes cultural workers as part and parcel to social movements, in light of how the creative work of storytelling can sustain revolt through periods of repression.
Further, while countries like Iraq and Iran are not traditionally understood as theaters of the “Arab Spring,” we will argue that these countries have seen momentous uprisings at different points throughout the decade which have shared mutual inspirations and influences with the 2011 rebellions. For example, a second wave of revolts occurred across the region from 2018-2020 in Iran, Iraq, Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Tunisia. We explore parallels between the 2011 uprisings and these later revolts, particularly as they unfolded in Tunisia, Iran, and Iraq. A primary focus in this panel is the ways in which movements have emerged in relation to the region’s capitalist elites. Neoliberalism has played a central role in the disenfranchisement of large swathes of the region, yet it has emerged differently in different countries. Panelists will problematize the anti-imperialist discourses of states like Syria and Iran by looking at the ways in which these countries have modeled their neoliberal policies after those of Western states. At the same time, in some parts of the region, “proxy wars” have elicited nationalist sentiments from protesters. Such nationalism frustrates, or at best defers, calls for regional and international solidarity as protest movements become preoccupied with self-defense. Thus, we ultimately argue that attention to the dynamics of global capitalist relations and their impact on regional politics is key to understanding the present challenges for these social movements and for regional transformation.


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Noura Erakat

(Rutgers University, New Brunswick)
Panel Participating Role(s): Discussant;

Yousef Baker

(California State University, Long Beach)
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

LIla Sharif

(University of Illinois)
Panel Participating Role(s): Chair;

Jennifer Mogannam

(University of California, Davis)
Jennifer Mogannam is a PhD candidate in Ethnic Studies at the University of California San Diego and a lecturer in Race and Resistance Studies at San Francisco State University. For her doctoral research, she is working to build a framework for revolution...
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Alborz Ghandehari

(University of Utah)
Panel Participating Role(s): Organizer; Presenter;

Ahmad Al-Sholi

(Stony Brook University)
Phd Candidate at SUNY-Stony Brook's Sociology. My ongoing doctoral research is on the role of the capitalist class in revolutions. I focus on cases from the Arab Spring.
Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;

Maytha Alhassen

Panel Participating Role(s): Presenter;