On this week’s podcast, Asef Bayat talks about his new book, Revolution Without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring, (Stanford University Press, 2017) a comparative analysis on the 2011 revolutions and those of the 1970s.

“These [2011] revolutions happened at a time when the very idea of revolution, the very concept of revolution had dissipated,” says Bayat. “The activists were not thinking in terms of revolution in the way that the activists in the 1970s or earlier during the Cold War had been thinking about revolution. They were reading about revolutions, about the experiences, having groups, and so forth.”

Asef Bayat is the Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies and Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford, 2009, 2013) and Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn (Stanford, 2007).

“In the case of say Iran, women who have been forced to wear hijab- some do who voluntarily wear hijab, but many others do not want to wear hijab- pull back their hijabs back, and back, and back.  And they do it not necessarily as a movement collectively but rather they do it in their everyday life, individually while they are on the street or on a bus. And then you do it. She’s doing it, he’s doing it, and many others are doing it. And you’re also noticing each other doing it. There is what is called a passive network among these people. It is a collective action which is somewhat encroaching into the law of this state or norms. By doing so the hope is to create alternative norms in society.”

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Revolution Without Revolutionaries: A Conversation with Asef Bayat