Neo-Orientalism and the e-Revolutionary: Self-Representation and the Post-Arab Spring

in Middle East Law and Governance
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The uprisings of 2011 in the Middle East and North Africa opened the way for a potential reimagining of the role of the Arab socio-political militant and the work of the public intellectual. Much change was achieved and the action of postmodern social activists played a central role in this historical undertaking. Deeper examination of the discourse and subsequent positioning of a large segment among these newer actors reveal, in the post-Arab Spring period, neo-Orientalist traits whereby Western metropolis concerns and phraseology overtake the domestic requirements of political transition. Self-representing themselves and their theatres by way of borrowed perspectives proceeding from external, paternalistic logics has led this new generation of actors to a series of contradictions as to the very democratizing rupture and rebirth of the region they have been advocating for. Borrowed prisms and subservient agency are the consequential drivers of this mode, which proceeds paradoxically on claims of independence and ownership.

Middle East Law and Governance

An Interdisciplinary Journal

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References

4

George Pettee, The Process of Revolution (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1938), 100–101.

6

Patrick Cockburn, “Hazards of Revolution,” The London Review of Books 36, no. 1, January 9, 2014, 25.

7

Karl Sharro, “The Arab Uprisings and Self-Determination: The Missed Opportunity,” Karl reMarks, December 16, 2013, http://www.karlremarks.com/2013/12/essay-arab-uprisings-and-self.html.

11

 See David Fromkin, A Peace to End All Peace (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1989).

12

Edward W. Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions and the Orient (New York: Routledge, 1978); and Culture and Imperialism (New York: Vintage Books, 1993).

14

 See Kabir Tambar, The Reckoning of Pluralism: Political Belonging and the Demands of History in Turkey (Redwood City: Stanford University Press, 2014).

16

As’ad Abukhalil, “Western Awards for the Natives,” Al Akhbar English, October 13, 2014.

17

Kwame Anthony Appiah, “The Postcolonial and the Postmodern,” in In My Father’s House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 149.

18

Hamid Dabashi, Brown Skin, White Masks (London: Pluto, 2011), 41. Appiah and Dabashi both build on the works and stances of Frantz Fanon, Albert Memmi, and Malcolm X.

19

Joseph Massad, “Political Realists or Comprador Intelligentsia: Palestinian Intellectuals and the National Struggle,” Critique 6, no. 11 (1997): 21–35.

21

Edward W. Said, Humanism and Democratic Criticism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004), 47.

23

Pankaj Mishra, “The Case against the Global Novel,” The Financial Times, September 27, 2013.

26

Ali Anouzla, “Self-Criticism and Genuine Dialogue Required,” Qantara, August 25, 2014.

28

 See Mondher Kilani, Pour Un Universalisme Critique: Essai d’Anthropologie du Contemporain (Paris: La Découverte, 2014). Kilani notes that, as a work in progress, such a project “moves forward” in spite of its “incompleteness.”

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