The recent democratic uprisings and their reverberations throughout the Arab world changed the perceptions of many in the West that this region was immune to social activism and change from within. Stanford University Press is pleased to announce two new titles, Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa, edited by Joel Beinin and Frédéric Vairel, and Autumn of Dictatorship: Fiscal Crisis and Political Change under Mubarek, by Samer Soliman, that will contribute to and inform our understanding of the nature and history of social movements in Egypt. What’s more, the authors of these important books are just two of several distinguished scholars who will gather at Stanford on Friday, April 29 in the Bechtel Conference Center for a one-day conference entitled "Democratic Transition in Egypt," sponsored by the Program on Arab Reform and Democracy at the Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law. This event, co-sponsored by the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies at Stanford University, will focus on Egypt's current revolutionary period, and brings to Stanford leading Egypt academics from American, European, and Egyptian universities and think tanks.
Too frequently written off as culturally defined by Islam, strongly anti-Western, and uniquely susceptible to irrational political radicalism, authoritarianism, and terrorism—the Middle East and North Africa (specifically Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey) are rarely considered as sites of social and political mobilization. However, in Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa, Joel Beinin and Frédéric Vairel reveal a rich array of mobilizations that neither lead inexorably toward democratization nor degenerate into violence.
In Autumn of Dictatorship: Fiscal Crisis and Political Change under Mubarek, Samer Soliman argues that protest is nothing new to Egypt, and labor activism and political activism, most notably the Kifaya (Enough) movement, have increased dramatically over recent years. In hindsight, it is the durability of the Mubarak regime, not its sudden loss of legitimacy that should be more surprising. Though many have turned to social media for explanation of the events, in this book, Samer Soliman follows the age-old adage—follow the money.
Over the last thirty years, the Egyptian state has increasingly given its citizens less money and fewer social benefits while simultaneously demanding more taxes and resources. This has lead to a weakened state—deteriorating public services, low levels of law enforcement, poor opportunities for employment and economic development—while simultaneously inflated the security machine that sustains the authoritarian regime. Studying the regime from the point of view of its deeds rather than its discourse, this book tackles the relationship between fiscal crisis and political change in Egypt.
About the Authors:
Joel Beinin is Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History at Stanford University, and a past president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America. Frédéric Vairel is Assistant Professor of Political Studies at the University of Ottawa.
Samer Soliman is Assistant Professor of Political Economy and Political Science at the American University in Cairo. An activist for human rights and democratic politics, he is also a frequent columnist in the Egyptian media and a founder and editor of Al-Bosla a radical democratic publication.