The people want the fall of the regime
in Houses built on sand

This chapter focusses on the events of the Arab Uprisings, the emergence of protest movements across the region demonstrating the seemingly widespread rejection of political, social and economic conditions. It argues that to understand the protest movements, we must place them in the context of protests within and across states in the region. The conditions prior to the uprisings should not be viewed solely as a by-product of political life, an accident or the unavoidable consequence of the interaction between nationalist and globalising forces. Instead, as previous chapters have argued, political, social and economic situations were carefully designed as mechanisms of control, resulting in the cultivation of a form of bare life. For Agamben, once in this position, there is no escape and one should accept the position of ‘being thus’. Yet looking across the region in the early months of 2011, it was difficult to view events as the acceptance of the status quo. Instead, what quickly became known as the Arab Uprisings was seen as the rejection of being thus and the demonstration of agency – seen to be possible even within bare life – and improve political life.

Houses built on sand

Sovereignty, violence and revolution in the Middle East


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