Chair: Dr Andrea Teti, Lecturer in International Relations and Co-Director of the Interdisciplinary Approaches to Violence Research Cluster, University of Aberdeen
Paper 1: Seeing the Egyptian ‘Revolution’ through Social Movement Glasses: Networks, Frames, Protest Cycles and Structural Changes
Dr Jeroen Gunning, Executive Director, Durham Global Security Institute, Durham University
While much has been written about the Egyptian ‘revolution’, theorising about its origins and dynamics is still in its infancy. This paper will use a social movement theory lens to look at the interplay between social networks, tactics and ideational frames, and broader structural changes. It will argue that the revolt cannot be understood without tracing the networks that sustained it back through consecutive protest waves, with a particular focus on how they fed off and built on each other, widening the arena for public protest and the pool of activists, and developing pivotal tactical and frame innovations in their confrontation with the regime. It will then suggest that these networks themselves cannot be understood without situating them within the broader socio-economic and political changes Egypt has undergone over the past few decades. It is in the interaction between these broader structural changes, the networks, the frames and tactics they adopted and the way the regime responded to them that a deeper insight can be gained into what made the revolt possible after the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia. The paper will end with some reflections on the limits of using a social movement theory lens.
Paper 2: Egypt’s Uncertain Revolution: Negotiating Transition Under Military Rule
Dr Chérine Chams-Eldine, Lecturer in Political Science and Teaching Fellow, Cairo University and University of Exeter
Since the overthrow of Mubarak, Egypt is run by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) and a weak interim government. Until now SCAF’s actions have been anything but supportive of democratic change in Egypt. The overall strategy of the generals is to shape a transition that maintains a part of the old order. This paper first explains the roots of Egypt’s revolution by setting its political, social and economic context. Then it tries to analyse the implications of the Ancien Régime’s type as well as the actors in control of the transitional period on the paths of democratic transition in Egypt. It will focus on the ‘semi-authoritarian’ nature of the previous Egyptian regime (which explains its long resilience) and the impact of the prior regime type on the transition paths. It will use the transitology literature (especially on Latin America) to explain the role of the military in the transition.
Paper 3: The People and the Army are one Hand! A Micro-sociology of Fraternisation in the Egyptian Revolution
Neil Ketchley, Visiting Research Fellow, American University in Cairo and PhD candidate, LSE
The Egyptian army’s role during the formative days of the Egyptian revolution has been fêted as one intended to safeguard peaceful protest against the Mubarak regime. This narrative figures particularly as a legitimation of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) assuming control with Mubarak’s departure. Yet, considerable ambiguity remains around the actual intentions of the armed forces and the exact orders given to soldiers. This paper poses an alternative account to the military elite-led narrative of benevolent guardianship by showing the efforts by both protestors and soldiers to develop a series of interactional mechanisms of restraint. It explores the importance of ‘fraternisation’ in explaining the absence of greater violence and shows how physical co-presence allowed for small talk, embracing, singing, chanting etc, to figure as interaction rituals that limited the outbreak of greater violence. When violence did occur, the paper suggests that fraternisation and the invoking of its constituent mechanisms led to milder forms of ritualised violence and situational de-escalation.
Paper 4: The Generational Gap and Counter Hegemonic Discourse
Dr Ahmed Tohamy, Durham University
Much of the new energy in the Egyptian society and politics which spurred the 25th January revolution and its consequences came from a younger generation which become the main social agent for change in Egypt. It could be argued that the main social and economic transformations that triggered the generational gab are firstly, the various awareness and consciousness because of the arrival of social networking technologies. Secondly, the demographic change in the society as most of the population become the under the age of 30. Thirdly, the lack of efficiency of the old generation who control the state institutions and political parties. The aspects of the generational gab are remarkable and could be noticed in everyday life but the study is focusing on its political mobilization aspects. It seeks to explore and analysis the mobilizing structures that have been formed and by young activists like Six of April, El-Bardiey Campaign, the Current party, Youth Revolutionary Coalition and Ultras. It also will refer to the implication of the generational gap on the Muslim Brothers young wing and army internal mechanism.These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by the presenters.