From Mobilization to Counter-Revolution: The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective

POMEPS_Logo_WebLgOn May 3-4, 2016, POMEPS held a workshop, “From Mobilization to Counter-Revolution: The Arab Spring in Comparative Perspective,” in conjunction with Oxford University’s Middle East Centre at St. Anthony’s College and Department of Sociology.

In recent years a great deal of attention has focused on the process of revolutionary mobilization. By comparison, the conditions under which revolutions fail remains less well understood – this in spite of the tendency for many of the initial gains of contemporary revolutions to prove ephemeral. The disappointing trajectory of the 2011 Arab Spring only underlines the need to better understand this important topic. During the Arab Spring, factional splits between Islamists and secular activists quickly turned into internecine strife, undermining revolutionary coalitions. These splits were, in turn, exacerbated by interventions from regional and international powers. Later, violent Islamist groups exploited revolutionary openings to advance their own agendas. In countries that did not experience revolutionary breakthroughs, authoritarian regimes adapted their repressive strategies in the face of border-crossing protests.

This workshop brought together more than a dozen diverse scholars working on issues related to the Middle East in transition to explain and conceptualize these dynamics by bringing them into comparative perspective. Drawing from a wide range of methodological and theoretical perspectives, participants contributed short memos that examined topics like revolutionary failure, de-democratization, counter-revolution and authoritarian retrenchment.

Workshop papers are published as volume 20 in our POMEPS Studies series. Download here.

From Mobilization to Counter-Revolution.. and Beyond, Marc Lynch, POMEPS and George Washington University

How Tunisia’s Ennahda party turned from its Islamist roots, Rory McCarthy, Oxford University

Elite-led Protest and Authoritarian State Capture in Egypt, Neil Ketchley, Brasenose College, University of Oxford

In Defense of Ideology: Notes on Experience and Revolution, Sune Haugbolle, Roskilde University

Late Populism: State Distributional Regimes and Economic Conflict after the Arab Uprisings, Steffen Hertog, London School of Economics

From Co-optation to Crackdown: Gulf States’ Reactions to the Rise of the Muslim Brotherhood during the Arab Spring, Courtney Freer, London School of Economics

Adding Insult to Injury: Vilification as Counter-Mobilization in Turkey’s Gezi Protests, Lisel Hintz, Cornell University

Waves of Democratization, Waves of Disillusionment: The Arab Spring in Historical Perspective, Charles Kurzman, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Master Frames of the Syrian Conflict: Early Violence and Sectarian Response Revisited, Reinoud Leenders, King’s College London

Taking Time Seriously: Temporality and the Arab Uprisings, Jillian Schwedler, Hunter College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

They have a Gun in One Hand and the Media in the Other: The Rise of Anti-Militarist Activism under the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, Amy Austin Holmes, American University in Cairo

Abdel Fatah al-Sissi in the Age of the Trickster, Walter Armbrust, University of Oxford


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