NB: All papers published in this website are protected by copyright and cannot be reproduced, quoted or referred to without the authorisation of the author. The author is the sole and exclusive responsible for the content of the papers.

More Continuity than Change? 

Understanding the Resiliency of Oppressive Political and Social Structures

Chair: Dr John Chalcraft (the London School of Economics and Political Science)

·         Edward McAllister (Oxford University)

Immunity to the Arab Spring? Fear, fatigue and fragmentation in Algeria

According to official sources, 113,000 riots were recorded in Algeria in 2010, with 18 interventions by riot police per day since January 2011. Despite this, President Bouteflika has described Algeria as being immune to the Arab Spring. This paper will analyse factors that have prevented the growth of cohesive movements demanding political change in Algeria. While fatigue stemming from the violent 1990s is routinely advanced to explain the lack of appetite for change, this presentation will look at waning enthusiasm for the Spring, increasingly cast as an illusion that serves only the military or the Islamists, compounded by fears of foreign intervention. Attention will also be paid to the role played by memories of the state’s claims of social justice during the 1970s and the riots of October 1988 in popular and official articulations of contemporary politics. The paper will then analyse structural factors acting as barriers to change, particularly generational and class aspects of social memory. While Algerian political language has mirrored regional dynamics in the shift from cultural and ideological battles in the 1990s to socio-economic concerns in the 2000s, thus increasing hopes of finding common ground for political change, Algeria’s significant generational fragmentation has inhibited the cohesion necessary for the emergence of new social movements.


·         Priscilla Alamos (Catholic University of Louvain)         

Why some yes and others no? Explaining the emergence of qualitative social change in Yemen and the status quo in Algeria, in the light of social movement theory

Recent and popular developments of the so-called “Arab Spring” reached Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen and Syria in 2011, offering a unique opportunity to research the causes of this social change’s emergence. The empirical evidence leads us to a two-part puzzle: Why have some countries experienced social change while others have not? Which are the causal mechanisms of the social change’s emergence? This paper focuses on the period prior to the onset of social change to examine its nature and dynamics in the light of the social movement theory. Its aim is twofold: on one hand, to revise the social movement theory to clarify the phenomenon and on the other, to analyse the causes of the social change’s emergence in Yemen and the prevalence of the status quo in Algeria. The concept of “social change” will be outlined based on necessary and sufficient conditions and family resemblance approach (Goertz, 2005). Cases are studied using the most similar different outcome (MSDO) approach and process-tracing methodology is applied (Bennett, 2005) to identify and test causal mechanisms in order to explain our outcome. Finally, the paper provides reasons why the social movement theory needs to be revisited, in order to create a new lens to study the phenomenon in future research.

·         María Blanco Palencia (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid)   

A tense stability: Explaining the appearance and development of social movements of protest in Jordan

Although Jordan has remained relatively stable during the Arab spring, there have been examples of social movements of protest which should be analysed. They have reflected the existence of new social dynamics and will probably acquire an important role in the future political development of the country. The development of these protest movements will be evaluated through the causal factors at three different levels: firstly, at a regional level, the impact of regional instability with the Arab spring on their appearance and development; secondly, at a national political level, the internal governmental management of the protests; finally, at a social level, factors in Jordanian society, namely, Jordan’s social fragmentation. These factors will help us draw a series of possible future scenarios for Jordan which are especially relevant for the upcoming Jordanian general elections, which are scheduled for before the end of 2012, and which are supposed to constitute the beginning of a new era in Jordanian political life. We will see to what extent these factors work towards the stability of the country, arguing that if reforms do not succeed in meeting social demands, they could eventually lead to a context of contentious politics in the country.

·         Giuseppe Maimone (University of Cagliari)

Arab Spring’s contagion: The fight against slavery in Mauritania between military coups and the protests of the youth movement

In 1981, the military regime formally abolished slavery in Mauritania and some El-Hor leaders – who fought against slavery since 1974 – obtained marginal ministries. In reality, the government did not set up any measures to fight slavery and the Haratines – slaves, former slaves and their descendants – continued to be trapped in slavery. The 1980s saw the birth of another movement for the rights of the Haratines, which gave emphasis to their ‘africanity’. FLAM (African Liberation Forces of Mauritania) was immediately persecuted by the dominant Arab class, declared illegal and forced into exile in Senegal.

The Arabs denied the persistence of slavery, so an El-Hor leader abandoned FLAM in 1995 to create SOS-Esclaves, to help people still in bondage. In 2007, for the first time, the democratic president of Mauritania enacted laws against the persistence of slavery. The following year, a new military coup brought the fight against slavery to silence.

Inspired by democratic developments in the Arab world which the Mauritanian elite have identified with since independence, in 2011 young students took to the street asking for democracy and the fight against slavery has once more become a tool to oppose entrenched powers. This paper will use archival sources, associations' documents and oral interviews to study this subject.

·         Dana Rubin (Open University)

‘Non-Ideological’ Settlements: Neoliberal Colonialism in the West Bank    

In a time of transformations in the Middle East, Palestine/Israel seems caught in a combination of apparent change and a recalcitrant status quo. This paper examines how anachronistic settler-colonialism and contemporary neoliberalism, a combination which symbolises the dangers of this recalcitrant state of affairs, coexist in the West Bank settlements. I address the so-called ‘non-ideological’ Jewish-Israeli settlements in the West Bank to which Israeli-Jews relocate for reasons such as quality-of-life or social mobility rather than identification with the religious-colonialist motives of the early settlement movement that followed the 1967 Israeli occupation. In the 1980s, Israel went through an intensive process of liberalisation and privatisation: processes in which developments such as the 1980s legislation permitting private purchase of land in the occupied Palestinian territories, the erosion of the Israeli welfare system and the emerging form of suburban community settlement brought the new configuration of ‘non-ideological’ settlements and settlers to the contested geopolitical space. This paper shows how the new notion of ‘non-ideology’ joined the vocabulary and practice of Zionist settlement and argues that it underpins the distinctive articulation of neoliberalism with settler-colonialism.     


BRISMES Graduate Section,
2 Jun 2012 01:41
BRISMES Graduate Section,
2 Jun 2012 01:37
BRISMES Graduate Section,
2 Jun 2012 01:36