Thursday, January 05, 2012

Social Movements in the South Lecture Tour Series: The Promise of Tahrir Square

Lecture 1: Social Movements and Democracy: The Clash of Old and New Social Movements in Egypt.  January 16, 2011, 10:00a.m.-12:00nn, Claro M. Recto Conference Hall, Faculty Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman 

(For the playlist of the video recordings of the FIRST LECTURE, please click here.)

Lecture 2: Social Movements' Strategies and Modes of Engagement with the State and Non-State Actors: Comparison between Old and New Social Movements of Egypt. January 17, 2011, 10:00a.m.-12:00nn, Claro M. Recto Conference Hall, Faculty Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman

(For the playlist of the video recordings of the SECOND LECTURE, please click here.)

We are pleased to invite you to the 2012 installment of the SEPHIS-TWSC Social Movements in the South Lecture Tour. This year's theme is “The Promise of Tahrir Square.” For most of the decades-long rule of Hosni Mubarak, the majority of the Egyptian people were politically inert, expressing little collective ambition to attain democracy. With the success of the Tunisians in toppling their dictator, Egyptians caught the freedom fever. A regime-toppling movement, largely brought together by young people through new media, surprised and inspired the world. Weeks later, Mubarak fell; the military has since taken the reins to facilitate the transition to democracy. Thus far, there are no prominent personalities that can immediately fill the vacuum of power, though there are rumors that the Muslim Brotherhood seeks to establish a theocratic state. Thus, it remains to be seen whether the newfound, tenuous unity between Coptic Christians and Muslims will evolve into long lasting nonviolent coexistence, or if the longstanding enmity between the adherents of these faiths will once again escalate into violence. These are only a few of the challenges and opportunities that face social movements in Egypt. What role will social movements play in ensuring that a regression to dictatorship will never occur? How will they push for solutions to their traditional concerns, e.g., better wages and working conditions? Will new social media continue to play a role in keeping the government in check by the sovereign people? A coherent strategy to deal with these concerns seem to be still forthcoming, as leaders of different social and political groups held a conference only on May 8, 2011 to “protect the revolution.”

An exchange with activists and scholars from nations that went through similar “people power” revolts may help Egyptian social movement actors to set their state on the path to becoming a paragon of democracy, keeping their January revolution from going down in history as another opportunity for democratization lost to the interests of an influential few. Such a dialogue may also give social movement actors in states that underwent similar upheavals an alternative perspective to reassess their progress in building a state where inequality is anathema, where the inalienable rights of every citizen is upheld. 

This year's lecturer is Dr. Mustapha Kamel Al-Sayyid, Professor of Political Science from the American University in Cairo.  Dr. Al-Sayyid is also Director for Research, Consulting, and Training of Partners in Development, an Egyptian think tank that specializes in development studies. Formerly, he was Director of the Center for the Study of Developing Countries in Cairo University. He obtained his PhD in Political Science from the Graduate Insitute of International Studies of the University of Geneva. His dissertation is entitled "Social Inequality, Collective Protest and Political Violence in some Formations of the Periphery, 1960-1973." His areas of specialization include the politics of development, foreign aid, human rights, and civil society. A prolific writer in Arabic, English, and French, Mr. Al-Sayyid has published extensively on civil society, political change, and ideology. His articles have appeared in World Policy, Middle East Journal, Washington Quarterly, and Maghreb-Mashreq. He is the author of the book Society and Politics in Egypt: Role of Interest Groups in the Egyptian Political System, 1952-1981 (1984), and editor of the book Political Reform in Arab Countries (2006). 

Click here for the programs of the lectures, and click here for the abstracts of the lectures.

The South-South Exchange Programme for Research on the History of Development
The Philippine Political Science Association 
Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives-Philippines
Focus on the Global South
Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines-Diliman
Department of History, University of the Philippines-Diliman 
Asian Center, University of the Philippines-Diliman