This year, we’re starting a new series on our POMEPS blog to highlight excellent articles in the field. We hope you enjoy this resource— and if you are a POMEPS alum publishing an article, please send a link to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Politics of Ignoring: Protest Dynamics in Late Mubarak Egypt by Dina Bishara. Dina is a POMEPS TRE recipient in Spring 2011 and Spring 2012 (the deadline to apply for 2016 TRE is rapidly approaching— details here).
I propose the concept of “ignoring” to capture situations in which government officials appear dismissive (either through inaction or contempt) of popular mobilization. The concept refers not only to actions by regime officials but also captures protesters’ perceptions of those actions. Examples of ignoring include not communicating with protesters, issuing condescending statements, physically evading protesters, or acting with contempt toward popular mobilization. Existing conceptual tools do not adequately capture these dynamics. Although repression and concessions have been extensively theorized, scholars lack conceptual tools to understand responses that fall short of both repression and concessions. I introduce the concept of “ignoring” as a useful tool to focus on a subset of actions on the part of regime officials who are the targets of mobilization, with discernible consequences for subsequent mobilization. Drawing on research on the role of emotions in protest politics and on framing and social movements, I argue that ignoring protests can trigger emotional responses that encourage people to engage in protest, such as anger, indignation, and outrage. By integrating protesters’ perceptions of the behavior of the targets of mobilization, not just of the security forces, the concept of “ignoring” helps explain protesters’ reactions and their future mobilization, in a way that conventional concepts such as tolerance cannot capture. This analysis has important implications for broader theoretical debates on the relationship between regime response to protests and subsequent mobilization. Most importantly, it urges scholars to consider how ignoring can interact with other responses to mobilization, thereby altering the dynamics of the infamous the “concession-repression dilemma.” I use evidence from workers’ protests in late Mubarak Egypt to illustrate these dynamics.
Perspectives on Politics, Cambridge University, Volume 13, Issue 04, December 2015, pp. 958 – 975.
The Politics of Feminist Politics by Lila Abu Lughod.
This essay introduces the special section “The Politics of Feminist Politics,” which brings together the work of feminist scholars of the Middle East and South Asia to highlight the silences, exclusions, and occlusions that mark the transregional imaginative geographies of both “feminism” and “Islam.” Together, these essays suggest that careful analysis of the languages of justice, forms of social and political life, and embodied realities that belong to particular places and times can unseat the “common sense” of liberal feminist discourse and trouble its universalist claims. These essays track the everyday languages and institutions of governance, policing, and morality by working carefully through diverse fields, including legal cases and reasoning, histories of education, dynamics of marriage, arts of linguistic transformation, politics of religious argument, legitimations of state power, and political economies of labor and housing. They analyze the circulations of terms and bodies in the public sphere and in public space, drawing attention not only to the social exclusions and selective silencings that often attend feminist projects but also to their points of openness and to possibilities for a more inclusive politics.
Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Volume 35, Number 3, December 2015, pp. 505-507. Other relevant articles in this section include:
Listening to Rights Talk in Damascus: Women’s Rights, Human Rights, and the State in Syria, 2009–11 by Susanna Ferguson; The First Lady Phenomenon: Elites, States, and the Contradictory Politics of Women’s Empowerment in the Neoliberal Arab World by Mayssoun Sukarieh; Islamist Women and the Arab Spring: Discourse, Projects, and Conceptions by Merieme Yafout; Civil and the Limits of Politics in Revolutionary Egypt by Frances S. Hasso.
The Effect of Religiosity on Political Attitudes in Israel, Politics and Religion, by Olena Bagno-Moldavski.
This article studies the influence of religion on political attitudes in Israel by testing two propositions: “religion-friendly” democratization and “greedy” socialization. The former implies that accommodation of religious demands stimulates democratization, the latter argues that domineering religious socialization does not motivate democratic attitudes. Analysis of data from representative surveys conducted in 2006–2013, supports “greedy” socialization over the “religion friendly” hypothesis. I show that in most instances, socialization in religion-friendly environments does not moderate the political attitudes of religiously conservative groups. The results suggest that unbounded accommodation of religious needs in non-religious institutions may strengthen undemocratic political attitudes.
Politics and Religion, Cambridge University, / Volume 8 / Issue 03 / September 2015, pp 514-543.
When Autocratic Regimes Are Cheap and Play Dirty The Transaction Costs of Repression in South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt by Jens Rudbeck, Erica Mukherjee, and Kelly Nelson.
Why do autocratic regimes use paramilitary groups, death squads, vigilantes, gangs, and other types of irregular, non-state actors to suppress popular opposition movements? We argue that the use of this type of state repression is a way for political leaders to lower the transaction costs of repression. Contrary to the use of regular security forces, which may trigger a host of consequences ranging from international economic sanctions to strikes and boycotts, irregular non-state violence specialists constitute an alternative governance structure for repression that, potentially, is less costly to elites. To substantiate this argument, the article investigates the use of informal violence to suppress opposition movements in South Africa, Kenya, and Egypt. It demonstrates how repression was shaped by the transaction costs that political leaders were confronting.
Journal of Comparative Politics, CUNY, Volume 48, Number 2, January 2016.
Bending with the Wind: Revisiting Islamist Parties’ Electoral Dilemma Politics and Religion, by A. Kadir Yildirim and Caroline M. Lancaster.
Islamist parties’ electoral performance is a hotly debated question. Two arguments dominate the literature in terms of Islamist parties’ performance in democratic elections. The conventional argument has been the “one man, one vote, one time” hypothesis. More recently, Kurzman and Naqvi challenge this argument and show that Islamists tend to lose in free elections rather than win them. We argue that existing arguments fall short. Specifically, we theorize that moderateness of Islamist platform plays a key role in increasing the popularity of these parties and leads to higher levels of electoral support. Using data collected by Kurzman and Naqvi, we test our hypothesis, controlling for political platform and political economic factors in a quantitative analysis. We find that there is empirical support for our theory. Islamist parties’ support level is positively associated with moderateness; however, this positive effect of moderation is also conditioned by economic openness.
This article examines the rise and fall of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt after the 2011 uprising. It analyzes the Brotherhood’s behavior and strategy since taking power in June 2012, exploring the underlying factors leading to their downfall in 2013. The article argues that the short-lived Islamist government’s fall can be ascribed to three key factors: its lack of a revolutionary agenda, the Brotherhood’s organizational stagnation and inertia, and its leaders’ incompetence and inexperience in governance.