Abstract and Keywords
This chapter aims to place the Arab uprisings of 2011 in historical perspective, addressing questions of change and continuity by comparing and contrasting these uprisings with previous cases of contentious mobilization in the region, going back to the nineteenth century. The chapter argues that the uprisings can be linked to growing protests against domestic regimes in the region since the 1970s, and are similar to people-power uprisings in other parts of the world. The chapter points to the under-researched democratic genealogies of these uprisings, arguing that these played an important role in securing the unity of contentious crowds. The mass uprisings had their surprising and creative dimensions; they emerged without any preceding state breakdown and they constituted the people as a sovereign subject in a way distinctive from anticolonial nationalism.
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