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In 2003, the United States declared war against the Saddam Hussein regime. This study is based on interviews conducted in Syria (with Syrian men and women between 25 and 35 years of age) during the summer of 2012, which show that the War impacted a whole generation in Syria more so than any other contemporary event. Contrary to conventional understandings, the Hama events of 1982 and the Bashar al-Assad presidency did not impact the generational trajectory of this group – these events did not generate a ‘common’ generation. Instead, every interview referred to the Iraqi War. In analyzing how these young Syrians speak about the War, the article first explores how a common representation was built in the first place. Mass media, censorship, and the production of social memory all played significant roles in this process, and the analysis shows that this generation shares a vacuum regarding the War. Their memory was therefore globally ‘empty’ as they could not refer to any other event, in effect producing the ‘Iraqi War’ generation. This is vital for our understanding of the recent forms of protests in Syria.

Taking the representations built on the Iraqi War into consideration, the article interrogates how and why a Syrian generation starts to contest the al-Assad Regime in 2011. Indeed, the event of the War impacted ways of organizing people, and shaped the political views of the youth. The article argues that the ‘Iraqi War’ generation basically accelerated some important social changes in Syria.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean

Southern Algerian regions have been silent during the first phases of country national edification project. In the last decades, however, voices claiming more justice have emerged in challenging one of the national foundations, i.e., ‘the November generation.’ This article takes up the newly created unemployed movement and analyses the junctures between its southern expression and the problematization of the monumentality of the ‘November generation’ by showing how the Southern periphery challenges Algerian nation –building discourse and how it brings forwards claims on justice and political participation.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean
The aim of Protests and Generations is to problematize the relations between generations and protests in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean. Most of the work on recent protests insists on the newness of their manifestation but leave unexplored the various links that exist between them and what preceded them. Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Ratiba Hadj-Moussa (Eds.) argue that their articulation relies at once on historical ties and their rejection. It is precisely this tension that the chapters of the book address in specifically documenting several case studies that highlight the generating processes by which generations and protests are connected. What the production and use of generation brings to scholarly understanding of the protests and the ability to articulate them is one of the major questions this collection addresses.

Contributors are: Mark Muhannad Ayyash, Lorenzo Cini, Éric Gobe, Ratiba Hadj-Moussa, Andrea Hajek, Chaymaa Hassabo, Gal Levy, Ilana Kaufman, Sunaina Maira, Mohammad Massala, Matthieu Rey, Gökbörü Sarp Tanyildiz, and Stephen Luis Vilaseca.

*Protests and Generations is now available in paperback for individual customers.

This chapter views youth protest movements in Spain through the lens of Spanish anarchist Ricardo Mella’s radical turn-of-the-twentieth-century thought (1861–1925), because an understanding of Mella’s ideas allows one to make better sense of the demands and impact of contemporary Spanish activism. The challenges that Mella confronted—such as the debates over the use of violence, the process of experimentation in decision-making techniques, the value of collectivism and cooperatives, the practice of democracy, and the creation of values other than purely economic ones—are the same problems that Spanish youth protest movements face today. Even though activists do not openly identify with Mella, his response to the internal conflicts raging within classic anarchist theory and practice are relevant because of the clear intersections between his moment of protest and the current generation of youth protests. Revisiting Mella not only sheds light on contemporary resistances to capitalism, but present-day activism also helps us understand the limitation of Mella’s thought. As a way of dialoguing with Mella’s vision, this chapter builds upon recent studies dedicated to the concept of generations, new social movement theory, and anarchism and radical contemporary theory. Various projects are used as case studies, including: 1) the Can Vies squat in Barcelona; 2) the cooperative l’Ateneu Cooperatiu la base, also in Barcelona; 3) Catalan protester Enric Duran’s creative activism; and 4) the recently formed, Spanish grassroots-inspired political parties Citizens’ Network X Party and Podemos.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean
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Based on ethnographic research in the West Bank in 2011–2013, this chapter explores how Palestinian hip hop and the independent youth movement (al-herak al -shebabi al-mustakil) are rethinking ‘politics’ itself in this jil (generation). The article is interested in how the notion of ‘youth’ itself is produced and negotiated in these sites of youth culture in a moment in Palestine in which political vocabularies are seemingly eviscerated, mass mobilization has waned, and political skepticism and fatigue is pervasive. One of the major political interventions of the youth movement is the (revived) call for a unified national identity linking the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, diaspora, and Palestinians within the 1948 borders of Palestine. This challenges the Oslo paradigm and Israeli matrix of control that physically fragmented the nation and situated what could be Palestine only in the West Bank and Gaza, within the degraded terms of sovereignty supplied by Israel. In the face of this partitioning, the youth movement and hip hop subculture has connected different groups of young people across Palestine and politics emerging from different locations. Youth culture is a key site for expressing and negotiating social identities, political perspectives, and imaginings of the future. The notion of youth as connoting liminality and instability permeates discussions of Palestinian youth. Youth in the Arab world, as elsewhere, are generally viewed as a site of crisis due to their association with national reproduction, and thus with the possibility of both a threat to or continuity of the status quo, for their own societies and for Western states invested in the region. The question of resistance is generally pinned onto youth, which is often an overdetermined site for thinking about political dissent or social movements. Youth politics is suspect, because youth are seen as either too ‘radical,’ or too conformist, and vulnerable to co-optation. These binaries emerged in responses to the youth movement and to Palestinian hip hop and I argue are revealing of deeper tensions and contestations over national identity and ‘proper’ politics in the post-Oslo era.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean
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This chapter tackles the issue of the strategic decision over a movement protest frame in a recent case of mobilization taking place in Italy. The decision of the protest frame is a key cultural weapon in the hands of the activists to build up the collective identity of their social group and, thus, to trigger an effective and large mobilization. This is especially true in the case of student uprisings, as the socio-political condition of students is never clearly defined. As illustrated in this chapter, students engaging in protest politics tend often to face several strategic dilemmas concerning their political objectives, identity, and position in the broader sector of social movements. This represented the case of the Italian generations of students involved in the protests of 1968 and 1990, as it was for the student generation recently mobilized. Although this protest cycle lasted several years (from 2008 to 2012), it had two protest peaks (or, more specifically, two distinct protest campaigns) concurrently with the implementation of Law 133 in 2008 (cuts in public higher education) and Law 240 in 2010 (managerial restructuring of university governance). Although the year 2010 witnessed both a widespread worsening of the life conditions of Italians due to the economic recession and the implementation of austerity measures by the government, my hypothesis is that the student activists attempted to broaden their movement ‘constituency’ and make alliances with other social actors (such as precarious workers, researchers, public and private employees) to build a broader and more effective opposition against the Italian government and its neoliberal policies. In the chapter, I argue that the shift in the protest framing between 2008 and 2010, from a student to a general scope, was a decision taken by the student leadership and organizations in the effort to make their struggle more effective.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean

The objective of this chapter is to develop an analysis of the internal relationship between the novelty of the Gezi Protests and its agents, the new generation of Turkey, through a specific focus on the classed subject formation of the Gezi Protests situated in the particular context of domination and dispossession that took place under the akp rule. In the first section, I establish a theoretical framework that allows for a dialectical understanding of the two main conditions that underlie the Gezi Protests: (1) the protection of Gezi Park and its trees, and (2) the lack of democracy and increasingly authoritarian rule of the government in Turkey. By drawing on cultural productions about the neighbourhood of the district of Beyoglu that encompasses Taksim Square and the Gezi Protests, I show that the significance of Gezi Park as the natal space of protests can be examined through an analysis of the socio-political history and the social texture. In the second section, I examine the discussions and debates on the class composition of the Gezi Protests, and suggest a shift from subject positions to subject formation on the basis of a socialized conception of class. Finally, I investigate the subject formation of the next left generation of Turkey through an emphasis on the recognition amongst the protestors and the ethics of solidarity. In order to better explicate the process of recognition and the realization of Gezi’s ethics of solidarity, I focus on three crucial dimensions of the protests: 1) the actual experience of living together, 2) the deployment of socio-cultural performances as political strategies, 3) the Anti-Capitalist Muslim Youth’s participation in and contribution to the Gezi Protests. In lieu of a conclusion, I discuss the current relevance of the protests in Turkey, through a story that has moved me deeply.

In: Protests and Generations: Legacies and Emergences in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean