Non-Movements as Social Activism
Publisher: Against the Current
Date Written: 01/05/2015
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20961
Book review of Asef Bayat's 'Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East.'
Asef Bayats second edition of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East provides an account of social activism in the Middle East with a view to revealing those dynamics, laying the foundation for examining the processes and events that culminated in the Arab Spring.
The construct of the Middle East as a land frozen in time, inherently prone to violence, and fundamentally resistant to progressive change is hardly new. In the field of social movement studies, such tendencies have led to conceptualizing Middle East social movements as religiously "fundamentalist" and divorced from all that is seen as progressive.
In much of what passes for scholarly accounts of oppositional movements in the region, Bayat asserts, these movements are understood almost exclusively "in terms of religious revivalism, or as an expression of primordial loyalties, or irrational group actions, or as something peculiar and unique" -- meaning violent in their tendencies, retrograde in their agendas, and "anti-modern" in their character.