The narratives of the arab uprisings: towards a cultural analysis of social movements in the Middle East
Summary, in English
The popular uprisings that swept many countries in the Middle East during the last three years have been subject to much academic analysis that attempted to interpret the events and their significance for future political developments in the region. Discursive tropes such as revolution, counter-revolution, sectarian strife, and terrorism have been used in such analyses as they have been utilized by many actors to define desirable and undesirable actions. Little attention has been paid to the cultural significance of such tropes and their role in motivating the different forms of action in the first place. This panel looks at how different narratives are constructed, and sometimes inflated, that motivates specific forms of action and legitimizes certain actors. Through presenting case studies from Egypt, Bahrain, Yemen and the Gulf countries, the papers in this panel address the discursive patterns of different actors during the uprisings and in post-revolutionary contexts. Looking at traditional media outlets, group/party controlled digital outlets, and public performances of the different actors, the papers present analyses of the uprisings that challenge dominant understandings of the events that took place during the last three years, and consequently, highlight the importance of cultural analysis to understanding mass movements in the region.