Jan 26, 2012
Center for Democracy and Civil Society

Call for Papers – After the Revolution: Looking Forward

Democracy & Society, Volume 9, Issue 2

We are seeking well-written, interesting submissions of 1500-2000 words on the themes below, including summaries and/or excerpts of recently completed research, new publications, and works in progress. Submissions for the issue are due Monday, February 27th, 2012.

After the Revolution: Looking Forward

The wave of uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 set a precedent for political and social change. Starting with Tunisia, people began to publicly call into question the leadership of governments and individuals that hitherto they feared challenging or accepted as their political fate. However, shortly after the Arab Spring, the stark realities of political transitions have become clear. Some regimes, such as in Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria, sought to use force to crush nascent uprisings. Even in the successful revolutions, most notably Egypt and Tunisia, securing political leadership that acts in the interests of the people remains a challenge. More broadly, we are witnessing revolutions still in progress, where the prospects for successful democratic transitions seem uncertain. What challenges exist to these nascent democratic movements? A number of questions emerge, including:

Opportunities and Dangers: Political transitions present groups with opportunities influence the direction or nature of the change. Notably, in the context of the Middle East and North Africa, revolutions may present Islamic parties with an opening to advance their ideologies and gain support. On one hand, this may lead to a more peaceful redefinition of groups that were repressed by previous regimes. But on the other hand, the political vacuum revolutions create may encourage the rise of more extreme ideological parties.

State and Society: The revolutions and uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa have also called into question the fundamental basis upon which the state relates to society. To what extent have these political transformations altered peoples’ expectations about government accountability and notions of popular sovereignty?

The Role of the External Actors: To what extent has political change in the Middle East and North Africa called into question the capacity of external actors, such as the United States and Iran, to cultivate politically compliant regimes? Can democratic countries that were supporters of overthrown dictators, like the United States and France, play a constructive role in helping to foster democratic transitions?

The Role of the Media and Technology: There exist many untested hypotheses about the role of the media, notably Al Jazeera and technology like the Internet, added to the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa. Can we state with any degree of specificity the role these media played in them?

The Challenges of Governance: Democratic transitions often place political groups previously in opposition to the regime with the challenges of actually having to govern. What are some of the problems they face, or impose on these transition?

Slow Pace of Change: Many lament the slow pace of political change in the region since the uprisings began one year ago. Is this pessimism justified? Or should we expect political transitions in much of the region to be lengthy processes that are prone to backsliding?

Resistance from Regimes in Power: In the case of Bahrain, Syria and Yemen the regimes in power resorted to harsh tactics to crush dissent. Whereas in Egypt and Tunisia, leaders stepped down without much of a fight. How can we account for these differences?

These are just a few of the questions that arise as the challenges of the Arab Spring become more prominent. This issue of Democracy and Society will take a broad, analytical perspective on determining what these issues are. We seek to understand it from both a US, global, regional, and country-specific perspective. Please email submissions to democracyandsociety@gmail.com by February 27th, 2011. For additional information, please contact Andrea Murta or Ayesha Chugh at democracyandsociety@gmail.com.

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Founded in 2004, Democracy and Society is a biannual print journal published by the Center for Democracy and Civil Society at Georgetown University. The D&S Blog provides web-only content, including special reports and investigative series, on issues relating to democracy and development.

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