Palgrave Macmillan has just published “Women’s Movements in Post-“Arab Spring” North Africa”, edited by Fatima Sadiqi
The volume is divided into two parts, comprising five and fourteen chapters, respectively. The first part contextualises the various emerging post-revolution dynamics and lays the groundwork for the country-specific discussions in the second part. The conceptual framework adopted in the book is based on five inter-related notions: a post-revolution ideological “Centre” where women’s issues are prominent, women’s persistence in the face of cultural resistance and backlash, the “between secular and Islamic space” that characterises women’s post-revolution expressions, gender as a “lived” category that explains women’s “lived” experiences, and the twin paradoxical realities in women’s lives: political participation and denial of authority and how this ambivalences of inclusion is “manipulated.”
Unexpected and transformative uprisings broke off in North Africa and quickly spread to the Middle East and the rest of the world in 2010-11. Spontaneous, leaderless, youth-driven, and backed by social media, these uprisings called for karamah (dignity) and democracy. Various analyses of this unique phenomenon attempted to capture its meanings (see for example, Dabbashi 2012, Gelvin 2012, Ramadan 2012, Vargas 2012, and Pollack 2011).
However, significant as they are, these analyses do not highlight, let alone centre on the role of women before, during, and after the uprisings and focus only on their “remarkable” and “spectacular” presence during the uprisings. Dabbashi’s characterisation of the uprisings as “delayed defiance” (a sort of rebellion against both domestic tyranny and globalised disempowerment) and “end of post-colonialism,” seem to be sexless and ungendered, thus assumingly male. As the events unfolded in the four or so years that followed the uprisings and allowed the Islamists to co-opt the revolutions, women’s recognition in the spaces of authority shrank and their voices were muted in the ensuing geopolitics. It is as if women made the stories of the revolution but did not own them. Yet women in the region continue to be vocal and the debates on their rights continues to fill in the public spheres. This volume sets to understand, contextualise, and explain these facts through an overall conceptual framework and a number of country-specific analyses.
The main argument of this volume centres on the uprisings as a “revolution” instigated by the new actors, but also the new ambiguities, that postcolonial rule in North Africa created, and highlights women’s movements in the making and aftermath of this revolution. This argument is addressed both conceptually and through facts, hence the adoption of an approach combining academic, activist, and political perspectives. Conceptually, a complex overarching theoretical framework is adopted, where five inter-related notions inter-lock: a post-revolution “Centre” as an ideological middle-ground space where secular and Islamist paradigms confront each other over women’s rights, women’s feminist persistence in the face of cultural resistance and backlash, the ongoing creative disobedience that characterises women’s post-revolution expressions, gender as a “lived” category, and the twin paradoxical realities in women’s lives: political participation and denial of authority and how this ambivalences of inclusion is “manipulated.” The underlying thread between these notions is the rise of women as new actors in the region and the new (state) ambiguities that accompany this rise. This conceptual framework is addressed by various country-specific cases.
Eminent writers specialising in women’s studies in the Middle East and North Africa participated with chapters from: Miriam Cook, Margot Badran, Dina Wahba, Céline Lesourd, Moha Ennaji, Ellen McLarney, Moushira Khattab, Nevine El-Nossery, Sondra Hale, Amanda Rogers, Lilia Labidi, Nabila Hamza, Khadija Arfaoui, Rachid Tlemçani, Soumia Boutkhil, Rachida Kerkech , Manal Elattir, Yamina El Kirat El Allame, Youness Tihn, and Abdellatif Zaki.