The many faces of change

The wave of popular uprisings that swept through the Arab world in 2011 has taken societies in the region in very different directions. The many faces of “affective politics” – a term describing the force of emotions and feelings in relation to politics – in Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco were recently discussed at a workshop in Alexandria, Egypt. It was organised by NAI researcher Maria Malmström in collaboration with the Swedish Institute in Alexandria.

Some brief observations:
Libya. While popular participation in society has grown, important democratic values are still lacking. Demonstrations and protests have become everyday events, but there are also cases of aggressive attacks on opponents, even charges of treason.

Morocco. The Arab Spring has increased the hopes and expectations of citizens. It has also strengthened individuals’ love of their country as well as a sense of unity among the people.

Egypt. In contrast to Morocco, the dynamics since 2011 have led to fragmentation. There is widespread frustration arising from the unfulfilled promise of freedom and democracy. An interesting symptom of this is the vulgarisation of the Egyptian language in contemporary poetry.  

The workshop, entitled Affective politics in transitional North Africa: Imagining the future, attracted anthropologists from both North Africa and Europe. A report from the workshop will be published later this year. In 2014, a second workshop on the same theme will take place at New York University. Both events will be summarised in an academic publication involving North African, European and American anthropologists.

More about the workshop (all links below open in new window): (in Arabic)

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