Asset Bayat : ‘Revolution without Revolutionaries:’ Making sense of the Arab Spring | MadaMasr
In this conversation, sociologist Heba Khalil engages Asef Bayat on several of his main points. We publish their conversation as we remember the January 25, 2011 revolution.
Heba Khalil: The Arab Spring continues to be a complex set of events: unpredicted, unplanned and with unforeseeable, unintended consequences. Your new book, Revolution without Revolutionaries, is about making sense of the Arab Spring. What, in particular, are you trying to make sense of?
Asef Bayat: I want to understand the Arab Spring in the sense of how the revolutions proceeded, why they happened in the way they did, what the various forms of mobilization were, who were among the protagonists and critical mass, and what the immediate outcome was. But, above all, I am very interested in exploring the meaning of the Arab Spring historically, as I sense these revolutions were different from those I had studied and experienced before, I mean those of the 1970s.
HK: The Iranian Revolution of 1979 has often been referenced in relation to the Arab Spring as an Islamic revolution that produced an Islamic state. This oversimplification misses the nuanced dynamics of the Iranian Revolution, and its ideological innovations. How is the Iranian Revolution a relevant lens for understanding the Arab Spring?