Jillian Schwedler, Professor of Political Science at Hunter College:
Bayat speaks about portions of the youth who would previously have been attracted to the Muslim Brotherhood as having “post-Islamist proclivity[ies]” rather than speaking about whole societies as either Islamist or post-Islamist. This distinction is right to draw our attention to a diversity of responses to the uprisings, rather than the metamorphosis of particular groups into something new (but largely intact). Revolutionary ruptures bring forth a wide range of (sometimes competing) ideas, and we should include among those a diverse array of ideas and sensibilities that one might previously have clustered together unhelpfully as “Islamist.”
I agree, too, with Brown about the overall pessimism among many people in the region (and my expertise is more in Jordan than Egypt) concerning the potential for conventional parties to bring about meaningful change. Islamist movements are under attack from numerous directions domestically, regionally, and internationally. And those attacks are coming from other Islamist movements and a broader range of conservative and pious voices, and not only from “secular” spheres or from regimes seeking to repress all challengers. Islamist movements of yesteryear are hardly a safe place to be (even in places like Jordan and Morocco, where Islamist parties remain legal), and few seem to look toward them as possible mechanisms for hope or change.
Just as Voll rightly cautions against the reification of a secular-religious binary, we should call other assumptions of the earlier literature into question, particularly one that views “younger generations” as a homogenous category. Especially in this sense we should be cautious about too much attention to urban-based movements at the expense of highly conservative rural or small-town movements, or at least those away from the major metropolitan areas. Scholarship has always been weaker (but not nonexistent) concerning rural Islamist movements and trends, owing in no small part to increased difficulty of research access and identifying research subjects. The long-standing research bias toward urban parties and movements—especially those with public relations offices and identifiable officers readily available for interviews—needs to be corrected now more than ever.