Category Archives: Essay Dialogues

Informing Activists: What can activists in the West learn from the Arab Spring?


Three relevant pieces of research about social movements and the Arab Spring:
Mobilization Journal’s special issue on the Arab Spring:

Howard, Philip N., and Muzammil M. Hussain. 2013. “Democracy’s fourth wave?: digital media and the Arab Spring.” Oxford University Press.

Alimi, Eitan Y., and David S. Meyer. 2011. “Seasons of change: Arab Spring and political opportunities.” Swiss Political Science Review 17.4: 475-479.

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Was the Arab Spring Worth It?

By Charles Kurzman

You risked your life for freedom, dignity, justice, and equality. You took days and weeks from other responsibilities – from your family, your school, your work — in order to serve your nation. You convinced yourself that you were building a better future. Now you ask yourself, was it worth it? Continue reading

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Three Lessons For Social Movement Research From the Egyptian Revolution

By Atef Said

Jack Goldstone famously argued that revolutions are like earthquakes: unpredictable. Once an earthquake happens, however, we study it to learn something new (Goldstone 1991: 59, 149). In the same vein, sociologists Mohamed Bamyeh and Sari Hanafi recently stated “Revolutions, therefore, are opportunities to learn something new. The worst analytical insult to a revolution is to use it as an opportunity to apply mechanically an existing theory or model.” (Bamyeh and Hanafi 2015: 343) What can we learn from the Arab Spring today, 6 years later? A general Google search brings up 11,700,000 entries that roughly have some version of “Lessons from the Arab spring” in the title. These lessons/conclusions vary from blaming some actors (such as the political Islamists, or the “revolutionary youth”) or forces of the old regimes (such as the military or the security apparatuses), or the elite (intellectual or the political elite, which varies from liberal, nationalists to Marxist leftists) or discussing the problem of a lack of organization or leadership. And there is a multitude of lessons to be learned, depending on the perspective of the scholar or observer. Continue reading

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The Arab Spring and Women’s Continued Mobilization in the Region

By Anne PriceHelen RizzoChelsea MartyKatherine Meyer

What does the Arab Spring uprisings’ effect on women in the MENA region tell us about the broader outcomes of the Arab Spring? In this piece, we discuss: 1) women’s status as a key indicator of the potential for democracy in the region, 2) changes in women’s status since the Arab Spring, and 3) the ways in which women’s increased mobilization as a result of the Arab Spring has been—and can continue to be—a pathway to improvements in women’s status. We give particular attention to the case of Egypt. Continue reading

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The Post-2011 Arab World: Change is the Name of the game

By James M. Dorsey

Common wisdom has it that ultimately failed or troubled popular revolts in 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa have sparked bloody civil wars and violent extremism, and given autocracy a new lease on life.

Indeed, there is no denying that a brutal civil war in Syria has killed hundreds of thousands and dislocated millions. Iraq, like Syria, is seeking to defeat the Islamic State (IS), the most vicious jihadist movement in recent history. Sectarianism and religious supremacism is ripping apart the fabric of societies in the Middle East, North Africa, and beyond.

Yet, the legacy of the 2011 revolts is not simply massive violence, brutal jihadism, and choking repression. In fact, the revolts kicked off an era of change, one that is ugly, destabilizing, violent and unpredictable, and that may not lead any time soon to more liberal, let alone democratic rule. Continue reading

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“ ‘Walk Together Children!’ The Charismatic Leadership and Race-Conscious Politics of Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.”

This month, we’ve celebrated the birth and legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who has become the face of African American civil rights in the United States and human rights worldwide. While there is much of King’s legacy that remains under appreciated, particularly his post-1963 “I Have a Dream” speech critiques of capitalism and worker’s rights protests, there is also room to explore the influence of lesser-known Civil Rights advocates and activists. Continue reading

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Filed under Daily Disruption, Racist and Racial Justice Movements

Informing Activists: How can I protect myself legally when I am active online?

Derek Bambauer

How can I protect myself legally when I am active online?

Professor Bambauer mentions several resources that you can use to protect yourself online. We have compiled links to these sources below.

The EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation)’s Surveillance Self-Defense offers overviews, tutorials, and briefings for how to keep your identity and your information safe online.

Fire (Foundation for Individual Rights in Education)

The Tor software protects you by bouncing your communications around a distributed network of relays run by volunteers all around the world: it prevents somebody watching your Internet connection from learning what sites you visit, it prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location, and it lets you access sites which are blocked.

The Tails system is a live operating system that you can start on almost any computer from a DVD, USB stick, or SD card. It aims at preserving your privacy and anonymity, and helps you to: use the Internet anonymously and circumvent censorship; all connections to the Internet are forced to go through the Tor network; leave no trace on the computer you are using unless you ask it explicitly; use state-of-the-art cryptographic tools to encrypt your files, emails and instant messaging.


Further Reading


Marx, Gary T. 1988. Undercover: police surveillance in America. Berkeley, CA: Univ of California Press,


Lyon D. 2007. Surveillance Studies: An Overview. Malden, MA: Polity


Rafail, Patrick. 2014. “What Makes Protest Dangerous? Ideology, Contentious Tactics, and Covert Surveillance.” Intersectionality and Social Change. Emerald Group Publishing Limited. 235-263.


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