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Reassessing Activism and Engagement Among Arab Youth

Cover of the book "Reassessing Activism and Engagement Among Arab Youth"

CMES scholar Sarah Anne Rennick has edited the volume "Reassessing Activism and Engagement Among Arab Youth", published by Transnational Press London (2022).

This collective volume contributes to the conceptual understanding of Arab youth and their relationship to politics by making explicit how civic engagement in seemingly ‘apolitical’ fields can be conceived as a form of political activism. In speaking with Algerian, Tunisian, Lebanese, and Syrian youth civic activists who also participated in their country’s uprisings in 2011 or 2019, what is striking is their own insistence on the continuity between direct political protest and their civic engagement. Yet at the same time, these activists almost universally qualify their civic engagement as expressly ‘apolitical’. Such reflections beg two questions: how do youth understand the notion of ‘apolitical’ engagement, and on what premise do they see continuity between political protest and so-called ‘apolitical’ civic engagement? To answer these questions, the studies draw on the analytical tools of practice theory, reconceptualizing ‘youth’ as a generational practice of politics, meaning a ‘competent performance’ of shared knowledge and understandings of what constitutes politics and the political. In conceiving of youth in these terms, this unorthodox collection – representing multidisciplinary and multilinguistic research and blending theoretical and practitioner perspectives – is able to bring to the fore how youth comprehend and indeed dichotomize their collective action with ‘politics’. Contents:

  • Introduction – Sarah Anne Rennick
  • Youth and Politics in Bouteflika’s Algeria: Engagement at a Distance from ‘Politics’ – Layla Baamara
  • Hybrid, Culture-based, and Youthful: The New Political Commitment of Youth in Post-Revolutionary Tunisia – Mounir Saidani
  • The Imagined Community of Lebanese Youth Activists: Political Resistance by Other Means?  – Khaled Nasser and Sarah Anne Rennick
  • Syrian Revolutionary Youth: The Lost and Found of Political Agency – Hadia Kawikji
  • Is There a Youth Politics? – Asef Bayat

Read more about the book

Sarah Anne Rennick's research profile