Analyzing Politics beyond the Centre in an Age of Transformation
Anja Hoffmann, Malika Bouziane, Cilja Harders – 2013
Recent upheavals in the Arab world1 have challenged both statist and centrist assumptions about Middle Eastern politics. New social movements in the urban centers and virtual networks, as well as actors and actions from the so-called periphery, have changed the political landscape of the region within months. Still, these developments are rooted in long-term processes: until 2011, massive social, political, cultural, and economic transformations did not lead to regime change. The dynamics of these social ‘transformations without political transitions’ (Harders, 2009, p. 301), as well as the current developments, which fall between transition to democracy and civil war, deserve a closer look. 2008 alone saw various protests and social upheavals, such as in Bahrain in early February, where workers demonstrated against their decreasing purchasing power; in March, riots led to violent clashes in Yemen; in May, young football fans took the defeat of their football club in the Algerian city of Oran as an occasion to release their anger against the lack of prospects and the arrogance of power. Similarly, the following years witnessed numerous small-scale protests and local riots (Bayat, 2010; Beinin and Vairel, 2011; Catusse and Vairel, 2010), which culminated in the mass mobilization of 2011.