Arab Revolts(2)

Term: Fall 2012

Subject Code: GPOL

Course Number: 5308

The winds of change swept through the Arab world early in 2011. Against explanations forwarded by the events themselves, this course focuses on deeper historical trends to understand the uprisings of 2011 in the context of democratic politics in the modern period. Far from spontaneous, the struggle of the Arab people against authoritarianism and the colonial international order dates back to at least two centuries ago. What inspired the protestors? Did the Egyptians will the revolts? A modern history of that struggle, with particular attention to the language of political change, will illuminate not just the unfolding of the uprisings, but also the ideological frame in the context of which Arab history changed in this period. Is the call for the restoration of the dignity of the people-as heard from Bahrain to Tunisia-a local variant of the universal demand for popular sovereignty? A democratically ordered Arab world that is at the same time politically at odds with erstwhile democracies of the West that were ironically the very pillars of the undemocratic ancient regime will challenge the international order on multivalent fronts. Is this history recoverable in the general framework of liberal vs. illiberal democracy? These and other questions will be addressed through the writings of Ansari, Bayat, Bulliet, Ghannouchi, Khalidi, Mitchell, Owen, Qutb, Salvatore, Skocpol, and Schulze, among others.

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