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The “Arab Spring”: Competing Analytical Paradigms

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The revolutionary tide that swept the Arab world beginning in 2011 has been dubbed the “Arab Spring,” a misnomer that equates these events with European popular uprisings. Indeed, some commentators, influenced by Orientalism’s critique of cultural distinctiveness and thus ignoring cultural input in Middle Eastern politics, argued that in a world of social media, a new Middle Eastern democracy was about to take root. Yet in recent elections, secular democrats have proved to be an almost irrelevant political force in comparison to Islamists. This article discusses these developments in light of recent books analyzing the Arab Spring events. The books are reviewed through the prism of their discussion and recognition of the various components of Middle Eastern political culture.


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