Taking the temperature of the Arab Autumn
16 May 2014
Civil society is keeping the early vision of the Arab Spring alive, according to a leading expert in Arabic, Islamic and Middle East Studies.
Dr Lucia Sorbera of the University of Sydney will join the Arab Autumn panel at the Sydney Writers' Festival on 24 May, to discuss social and political change in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) since the first uprisings of 2010.
Dr Sorbera said Arab intellectuals do not use the terms 'Arab Spring' or 'Arab Autumn', a fact that poses challenges to the West's common narrative of the revolutions as mere false dawns.
"The revolution did not promise anything; therefore it did not fail anybody. That said, the revolutionaries shared a common project and a common vision: freedom, dignity and social justice," Dr Sorbera said.
"The new governments which have been in place since the fall of the dictators claim to be a result of the revolution, but they do not share the vision of the revolutionaries. On the contrary, they are trying to restore authoritarian policies."
Hopes for true change lie with civil society, said Dr Sorbera.
"The real question is not whether the promises of freedom, dignity and social justice have been delivered. The question is how long it will take before these projects and these visions will be fulfilled. It's just a matter of time.
"Grassroots activists and public intellectuals reject the violence of both the state and its disruptive adversaries.
"In a public space which tends to be more and more polarized, human rights and feminist organisations are on the front line to protect the values of the revolution: freedom, dignity and social justice.
"If there has ever been a spring, the flourishing of social and intellectual activism is a 'continuing spring' of resistance against political violence," said Dr Sorbera.
What: Arab Autumn at Sydney Writers' Festival
Where: Richard Wherrett Studio, Sydney Theatre Company, 22 Hickson Road, Walsh Bay
When: Saturday, 24 May, 1.30pm-2.30pm
Panellists: Yasmine El Rashidi, Karima Bennoune, Dr Lucia Sorbera, David Hardaker (facilitator)
Media enquiries: Luke O'Neill: (02) 9114 1961, 0481 012 600, firstname.lastname@example.org