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Edited by Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Ratiba Hadj-Moussa

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.

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Matthieu Rey

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.

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Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Ratiba Hadj-Moussa

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Ratiba Hadj-Moussa

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.

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Stephen Luis Vilaseca

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.

Series:

Edited by Mark Muhannad Ayyash and Ratiba Hadj-Moussa