The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an Old Order?

The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an Old Order?


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* [This book is published by Pluto Press. We are featuring it as it is the first book by the Arab Studies Institute, the umbrella organization for Tadween Publishing. To purchase the book, visit https://www.plutobooks.com/



As the initial phase of the uprisings subsides, counter-revolution sets in, and grand narratives crystallize, it is important to take note of the diversity of reactions that emanated from activists, scholars, and others as the uprisings were first unfolding. In this sense, The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings: End of an Old Order? archives the realm of possibilities, both imaginative and practical, optimistic and pessimistic, that were opened up as people sought to make sense of the rapidly unfolding events.

The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings sheds light on the historical background and initial impact of the mass uprisings that have shaken the Arab world since December 2010. The book brings together the best writers from the online journal Jadaliyya, which has established itself as an unparalleled source of information and critical analysis on the Middle East. 

The authors, many of whom live in the countries affected, provide unique understanding and first-hand accounts of events that have received superficial and partial coverage in Western and Arab media alike. While the book focuses on those states that have been most affected by the uprisings, it also covers the impact on Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iraq.


The Dawn of the Arab Uprisings covers the full range of issues involved in these historic events, from political economy and the role of social media, to international politics, gender and labor, making this the ideal one-stop introduction to the events for the novice and specialist alike.


This is perhaps the best introduction to the political movements that have shaken the Arab region since January 2011, offering intelligent commentaries on revolutionary events in almost every Arab country and their repercussions. 

-Talal Asad, City University of New York 

These talented contributors combine objectivity with a humanistic engagement, and never shy away from sometimes explosive topics. 

-Fawwaz Traboulsi, author of A History of Modern Lebanon

The articles collected here are a very rare combination—scholarly but also accessible for a broad public. This book will be a much-treasured volume.

-Laleh Khalili, Senior Lecturer in Middle East Politics, SOAS, University of London

Registering both the exhilarating optimism and crushing disappointment of contemporary political life, this is a primer of importance not only to students of the “Arab spring,” but also to those concerned with protest generally.

-Lisa Wedeen, Mary R. Morton Professor of Political Science and the College, University of Chicago

These writings capture revolutionary events as they happened and convey the uncertainties, hopes, and disappointments of collective worlds being remade. 

-Timothy Mitchell, Professor, Columbia University

Editors' Info


Bassam Haddad is Director of the Middle East Studies Program and teaches in the Department of Public and International Affairs at George Mason University. He is the author of Business Networks in Syria: The Political Economy of Authoritarian Resilience (2012). Bassam serves as Founding Editor of the Arab Studies Journal, a peer-reviewed research publication, is co-producer/director of the award-winning documentary film About Baghdad, and director of a critically acclaimed film series on Arabs and Terrorism, based on extensive field research/interviews. He recently directed a film on Arab/Muslim immigrants in Europe, titled The 'Other' Threat. Bassam also serves on the Editorial Committee of Middle East Report and is Co-Founder/Editor of Jadaliyya Ezine.   

Rosie Bsheer is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at Columbia University, where she also earned a Master of Arts in International Relations in 2006. Her research and teaching interests have centered on the social, cultural, and intellectual histories of the modern Middle East, petro-politics, and comparative colonialism. Rosie is also Associate Producer of Oscar-nominated My Country, My Country, a film that captures the tragic realities of everyday life in US-occupied Iraq. In 2006, she co-produced “Notes on the War,” a video essay shot in Lebanon during the 2006 war with Israel. Rosie currently serves as Co-Editor for Jadaliyya and is completing a dissertation titled, “Making History, Remaking Place: Archives and Historical Geographies in Saudi Arabia.”   

Ziad Abu-Rish is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Ziad’s primary research and teaching fields of interest center on the political economy of state formation and cultural constructions of nationalism in the Middle East, with a focus on the colonial and post-colonial Levant. He is currently researching and writing his dissertation, entitled “Making the Economy, Producing the State: Conflict and Institution Building in Early Independence Lebanon, 1946-1958,” which seeks to narrate and analyze struggles to organize the Lebanese national economy in the wake of independence. Ziad also serves on the steering committee of the Arab Studies Institute, as well as the editorial teams of both the Arab Studies Journal and Jadaliyya Ezine.




from "Preliminary Historical Observations" by Rashid Khalidi (pp. 9-10)

These have so far mainly been revolutions fashioned by ordinary people peacefully demanding freedom, dignity, democracy, social justice, accountability, transparency, and the rule of law. Arab youth at the end of the day have been shown to have hopes and ideals no different from the young people who helped bring about democratic transitions in Eastern Europe, Latin America and South, South-East and East Asia. These voices have been a revelation only to those deluded by the propaganda of the Arab regimes themselves, or by the Western media’s obsessive focus on Islamic fundamentalism and terrorism whenever it deals with the Middle East. This is thus a supremely important moment not only in the Arab world, but also for how Arabs are perceived by others. A people that has been systematically maligned in the West for decades is for the first time being shown in a positive light. 

from "The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections" by Mohammed Bamyeh (p. 57)

But what makes any resourceless revolution into a relentless machine is not its name, nor its ideology. It is the persistence of the very old, basic expectation of citizenship and participation, an expectation whose intuitive nature and pure form is discovered again after having been mystified in the idiom of one discourse or another. Thus when Mohamed Bouazizi set himself and subsequently the whole country on fire, he certainly did not realize what he was about to symbolize, which was the grievances coming back to earth and expressed in the most earthly manner possible: not as mystification, not as re-enacting an ancient struggle between good and evil, not as an expression of a party ideology. He gave a human expression to suffering and protest that negated all need to engage in controversies about ideas, ideologies, political systems, proper course of action and so on.

from "Why Syria is Not Next… So Far" by Bassam Haddad(p. 209)

At the same time, despite the existence within both the Libyan and Syrian regimes of a will and rationale to fight for survival, state–society relationships in Syria are much thicker than those of Libya, where detachment at the top has reached delusional levels. For instance, the Syrian regime has promoted a new cross-sectarian business class often with considerable roots in traditional city quarters. If something is afoot in Syria, however, it is likely to come from the northern cities.

from "Parting Thoughts" by Madawi al-Rasheed (p. 283)

The diversity of the so-called Arab Spring is as important as the common threads that led to the region becoming the focus of local and international attention as its population struggled to free itself from decades of authoritarian rule. While protests and activism were visible everywhere, the demands that protestors voiced differed across the region. People demanding “the downfall of the regimes” may have become the prism through which the protests could be understood in some countries but this demand was not voiced everywhere. If people in Arab republics strove to overthrow their oppressive regimes altogether, it seems that people in wealthy Gulf countries, together with those in heavily subsidized monarchies (Jordan and Morocco), tried to improve the conditions of servitude and authoritarianism.

Table of Contents


Jadaliyya: Archiving the Revolution
Roger Owen

Bassam Haddad, Rosie Bsheer, and Ziad Abu-Rish

Section I - Opening Articles
1. Impromptu: A Word - Sinan Antoon
2. Preliminary Historical Observations on the Arab Revolutions of 2011 - Rashid Khalidi
3. Awakening, Cataclysm, or Just a Series of Events? Reflections on the Current Wave of Protest in the Arab World - Michael Hudson
4. Paradoxes of Arab Refo-lutions - Asef Bayat
5. The Year of the Citizen - Mouin Rabbani
6. Three Powerfully Wrong - and Wrongly Powerful - American Narratives about the Arab Spring - Jillian Schwedler, Joshua Stacher, and Stacey Philbrick Yadav

Section II - Tunisia
7. The Tunisian Revolution: Initial Reflections - Mohammed Bamyeh
8. Tunisia's Glorious Revolution and its Implications - Noureddine Jebnoun
9. Let's Not Forget about Tunisia - Nouri Gana
10. The Battle for Tunisia - Nouri Gana

Section III - Egypt
11. The Poetry of Revolt - Elliott Colla
12. Why Mubarak is Out - Paul Amar
13. Egypt's Revolution 2.0: The Facebook Factor - Linda Herrera
14. Egypt's Three Revolutions: The Force of History Behind this Popular Uprising - Omnia El Shakry
15. The Architects of the Egyptian Uprising and the Challenges Ahead - Saba Mahmood
16. The Revolution Against Neoliberalism - Walter Armbrust
17. Egypt's Orderly Transition: International Aid and the Rush to Structural Adjustment - Adam Hanieh

Section IV - Libya
18. The Arabs in Africa - Callie Maidhof
19. Tribes of Libya as the Third Front: Myths and Realities of Non-State Actors in the Long Battle for Misrata - Jamila Benkato
20. Solidarity and Intervention in Libya - Asli U Bali and Ziad Abu-Rish

Section V - Bahrain
21. Let's Talk about Sect - Tahiyya Lulu
22. Distortions of Dialogue - Tahiyya Lulu
23. When Petro-Dictators Unite: The Bahraini Opposition's Struggle for Survival - Rosie Bsheer and Ziad Abu-Rish

Section VI - Yemen
24. Yemen's Turn: An Overview - Lara Aryani
25. How it Started in Yemen: From Tahrir to Taghyir - Nir Rosen
26. Saleh Defiant - Ziad Abu-Rish

Section VII - Syria
27. Why Syria is Not Next...So Far - Bassam Haddad
28. Fear of Arrest - Hani Sayed
29. Syrian Hope: A Journal - Amal Hanano

Section VIII - Regional Reverberations of the Arab Uprisings
30. The Political Status Quo, Economic Development, and Protests in Jordan - Ziad Abu-Rish
31. Dissent and its Discontents: Protesting the Saudi State - Rosie Bsheer
32. The Never Ending Story: Protests and Constitutions in Morocco - Emanuela Dalmasso and Francesco Cavatorta
33. Emergencies and Economics: Algeria and the Politics of Memory - Muriam Haleh Davis
34. Iraq and its Tahrir Square - Zainab Saleh
35. Tahrir's Other Sky - Noura Erakat and Sherene Seikaly
36. What is [the] Left? - Maya Mikdashi

Epilogue - Parting Thoughts - Madawi Al-Rasheed


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