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The Ten Years On Project

Protests and Mass Uprisings in the Arab World

Project Overview

December 17, 2020 marked the tenth anniversary of the start of the Arab uprisings in Tunisia. Beginning in 2011, mass uprisings swept North Africa and the Middle East, spreading from the shores of Tunisia to Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, and the Eastern Province of the Arabian Peninsula. A “second wave” of mass protests and uprisings manifested during 2019 in Sudan, Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq. The persistence of demands for popular sovereignty even in the face of re-entrenched authoritarianism, imperial intervention, and civil strife is a critical chapter in regional and global history.

In an effort to mark, interrogate, and reflect on the Arab uprisings, we launch a yearlong set of events, reflections, and conversations. We hope to produce resources for educators, researchers, students, and journalists to understand the last decade of political upheaval historically and in the lived present.

Over the past decade, a plethora of events, texts, and artistic and cultural productions have navigated the last decade’s spectrum of affective and material registers. We hope to contribute to these efforts through a historically grounded, theoretically rigorous approach that collaboratively interrogates the multiple questions the Arab uprisings continue to pose.

Project Launch Statement, December 2020

What can the successes and failures of uprisings teach us about notions of time, space, and people? How do waves of persistent resistance reshape our understandings of “stability”? What precisely is revolution? How do we confront its dark underbelly, counter-revolution? How are these uprisings both continuous with and a rupture from the past? What can they reveal about the intersections and mutually constitutive forces of the local and the global, the political and the economic, the affective and the material? Considering the dire and turbulent conditions in the Middle East and globally, these reflections are more urgent than ever.

We seek to collaboratively reflect on multidisciplinary frameworks that can identify how mass protests take shape. We will attend to both commonalities and differences across spaces and times, centering gender, race, sect, class, and the environment as key arenas of experience, theory, surveillance, and resistance.

Over the coming year, we will curate events and projects to reflect on the tenth anniversary of the Arab uprisings. Workshops, panels, and roundtables as well as a variety of artistic expressions,  a podcast series, a resources module/portal, and ultimately a  volume will attend to these questions and  visions. This endeavor centers multiplicity in contributions, disciplines, frameworks, and geographies. We are particularly interested in forging space for scholars, organizers, and revolutionaries from the Arab world and the Middle East and North Africa more broadly. We hope to feature events and knowledge production in Arabic, Turkish, and Farsi.

This was originally a collaborative effort between the Arab Studies Institute, Princeton’s Arab Barometer project, George Mason University’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Program, and Georgetown University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies. It quickly expanded and gained more partners from other institutions across the region, as well as Europe and the United States. The collective includes: Arab Studies Institute, Princeton’s Arab Barometer, GMU’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Project, Georgetown University (Center for Contemporary Arab Studies), the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS), American University of Beirut’s Asfari Institute, Brown University (Center for Middle East Studies), UC Santa Barbara (Center for Middle East Studies), University of Chicago (Center for Contemporary Theory), Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies, University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, Birzeit University’s Department of Political Science, Stanford University’s Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law, AUC Affiliates, Georgetown University (Qatar), The Global Academy (MESA Affiliated), and Institute of Palestine Studies.

organized by

The Arab Studies Institute

Princeton’s Arab Barometer

George Mason’s Islamic and Middle East Studies

Georgetown University (Center for Contemporary Arab Studies)

the Arab Council for Social Sciences (ACSS)

American University of Beirut’s Asfari Institute

Brown University (Center for Middle East Studies)

UC Santa Barbara (Center for Middle East Studies)

University of Chicago (Center for Contemporary Theory)

Harvard University’s Center for Middle East Studies

University of Exeter’s Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies

Birzeit University’s Department of Political Science

Stanford University’s Center for Democracy Development, and Rule of Law

AUC Affiliates

Georgetown University (Qatar)

The Global Academy (MESA Affiliated)

Institute of Palestine Studies

Watch the Project’s launch video.

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