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.
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.”