Article on the study of islamist movements

10 Years On: New Contextual Factors in the Study of Islamism

Authors: Lucia Ardovini (UI) & Erika Biagini
October, 2021


Although the popular protests that swept across the Middle East and North Africa in 2011 were short-lived, their long-term consequences are still resonating through the region a decade after their outbreak. Islamist movements have been affected in different ways by the drastic change in the political, social and geographical contexts in which they historically operated, highlighting the need for a renewed examination of these changed circumstances. Based on the case study of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, we argue that three key factors need to be accounted for when studying Islamist movements in the aftermath of the 2011 uprisings. These are the dimension of exile; the increased role played by women and youth; and the emergence of cross-generational and cross-ideological alliances. The article analyzes these three factors through a comparative study of responses by Muslim Brotherhood and Muslim Sisterhood members to repression across Egypt, Turkey and the UK.

Associate Professor lecture – Josepha Wessels

Josepha Wessels, lecturer at K3, holds her docent lecture with the title: Embodiment, Digitality and the study of Media and Communication for Sustainable Development and Social Change.

When: Tuesday 5 October, 14:30 – 15:30 (CEST)
Where: Zoom
Register: Follow this link


Global movements such as the Occupy movement, the Fridays for Futures climate change protests, Black Lives Matter, but also the Arab revolutions, are major global social change events occurring outside of the development industry, and surprisingly, or perhaps not, do not feature heavily in either of the two scholarly fields of Communication for Development and Social Change (CDSC) and Strategic Communication Management (SCM).

All above mentioned social change events emerged outside of the realm of the international development industry, where intergovernmental organizations, non-profits, corporate companies and philanthropic actors define post-colonial global economic power relations. This scholarly gap within the fields of CDSC and SCM creates an opportunity to fill a need to better understand how local communities proactively or reactively use their bodies and digital communication technologies in reaction to authoritarianism, structural inequality and racism, extremism, sociopolitical crises, climate change events and pandemics.

Embodiment, digitality and social change

In this lecture, I will explore embodiment, digitality and social change and describe three vignettes of digitally mediated social change events; the Syrian uprisings, the subsequent war and waves of forced migration that contributed to the global ‘refugee crisis’ and diasporic digitality, and the Sudanese revolution during the ‘second Arab spring’ of 2019.

All vignettes are examples in which, often young, change actors, guided by social technical imaginaries of a better and more sustainable future, used digital communication tools and put their bodies on the line for social change, while at the same time facing major challenges and obstacles by an increasingly polarized geopolitical and neoliberal world, whereby extremist groups and autocratic states are surveilling, suppressing and literally killing their bodies and voices-for-change.

The post-covid-19 recovery

The post-covid-19 recovery, following instantaneous rapid global digitalization and increasing ubiquity of video conferencing tools and immersive media technologies, provides another chance for the afore-mentioned two scholarly fields to engage deeper in strategic research that puts focus on how change actors take up and operationalize social technical imaginaries in collective and connective actions to ‘change the world’.

Lastly, I will give a reflection on communication and embodiment post-covid and how social technical imaginaries will continue to influence the way we communicate, in proximity and at a distance, embodied and dis-embodied, taking into account the latest developments in immersive communication technologies such as Virtual Reality (VR).

Follow this link to visit the event page and to register

UI Seminar: Socioeconomic Drivers of Protests in the MENA Region

The Middle East and North Africa Programme at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs invites you to a webinar analysing socio-economic drivers of protests in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region focusing on the contexts of Tunisia, Algeria and Lebanon.

Ten years after the Arab uprisings, that toppled dictators and briefly reshuffled the established status quo in several Arab countries, the region is still experiencing protests and popular demonstrations.

Long standing issues related to entrenched social inequalities, deep-seated corruption, recurring economic crises and the disintegration of the social contract are further weakening the already fragile state-society relationship in states across the region. With citizens’ growing mistrust in political institutions, protests is viewed by many as the main avenue to express discontent and demand structural changes.

With these dynamics in mind, this seminar focuses on a comparative analysis of socioeconomic drivers of protests in Tunisia, Lebanon, and Algeria, examining different repertoires of contention and state responses to popular demonstrations.

What socioeconomic grievances drive contemporary protest movements in the Middle East and North Africa region? How are they different from what brought people to the streets to protest during the Arab Spring? Are there any similarities between the movements in different countries in the region?

Lina Khatib, Director, Middle East and North Africa Programme, Chatham House
Youssef Cherif, Director, Columbia Global Centers, Tunis
Linda El-Naggar, Analyst, Middle East and North Africa Programme, UI

Lucia Ardovini, Research Fellow, Middle East and North Africa Programme, UI

Use this link to register

CMES Public Seminar: The Arab Spring 10 Years On

Panel discussion with

Mohammed Almahfali, CMES, Lund University

Mark LeVine, CMES, Lund University, University of Californa Irvine, UCLA

Kholoud Mansour, iMMAP

Maria Malmström, CMES, Lund University

Charlotta Sparre, Director of the Swedish Dialogue Institute for the Middle East and North Africa

Moderator Karin Aggestam, CMES, Lund University

Please visit CMES event page for more information about speakers, abstracts and registration for seminars. We hope to return to hybrid and physical seminars once the infection rate of COVID-19 has decreased.