Class, violence and citizenship in the Arab uprisings: assessing deeper forms of transition

Published: Dec 3, 2015
Representation Middle Class Violence State-Making Transition
Benoit Challand
The article connects the literature on transitology with a comparative analyses of the Arab uprisings (also known as the “Arab Spring”). These uprisings should not only be assessed against the backdrop of institutional changes (elections, the writing of new constitutions, the emergence of party systems, etc.). Rather, we need to consider the revolts as a set of historical events sharing a common aspiration towards a renewed and reactivated sense of citizenship from below, that is, from spontaneous forms of civil society, in conjunction with innervated trade union movements, and the emergence of new coalitions pushing for a more participatory politics. The article concentrates on two features of citizenship: the role of the middle class in fighting for larger political enfranchisement and the attempts by the sovereign people to reappropriate the legitimate means of violence.
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Author Biography
Benoit Challand, University of Fribourg Contemporary History
Benoît Challand trained as a sociologist and historian, with degrees from SOAS (London) and the European University Institute in Florence (Italy). He is professor of contemporary history at the Université de Fribourg (Switzerland). He has taught at universities in New York (NYU, New School for Social Research), Bologna, Pavia and Bethlehem. He has studied the impact of foreign assistance on Palestinian civil society and the shift in donor policies after the Arab uprisings; he has also published peer-reviewed articles on the criminalisation of Islamic charities, the history of international aid, and European identity. He has published four books on topics ranging from civil society in Palestine to political theory.
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