The revolutionary wave that swept the Middle East in 2011 was marked by spectacular mobilization, spreading within and between countries with extraordinary speed. Several years on, however, it has caused limited shifts in structures of power, leaving much of the old political and social order intact. In this book, noted author Asef Bayat—whose Life as Politics anticipated the Arab Spring—uncovers why this occurred, and what made these uprisings so distinct from those that came before.
Revolution without Revolutionaries is both a history of the Arab Spring and a history of revolution writ broadly. Setting the 2011 uprisings side by side with the revolutions of the 1970s, particularly the Iranian Revolution, Bayat reveals a profound global shift in the nature of protest: as acceptance of neoliberal policy has spread, radical revolutionary impulses have diminished. Protestors call for reform rather than fundamental transformation. By tracing the contours and illuminating the meaning of the 2011 uprisings, Bayat gives us the book needed to explain and understand our post–Arab Spring world.
About the author
Asef Bayat is the Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies and Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. He is the author of Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford, 2009, 2013) and Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn (Stanford, 2007).
"An astute analyst of the Middle East, Asef Bayat is one of the very few researchers equipped to historicize the region's contemporary uprisings. In Revolution without Revolutionaries, he deftly and sympathetically employs his own observations of Iran, immediately before and after the 1979 revolution, to reflect on the epochal shifts that have re-worked the political regimes, economic structures, and revolutionary imaginaries across the region today."
—Arang Keshavarzian, New York University
"Asef Bayat is in the vanguard of a subtle and original theorization of social movements and social change in the Middle East. His attention to the lives of the urban poor, his extensive field work in very different countries within the region, and his ability to see over the horizon of current paradigms make his work essential reading."
—Juan Cole, University of Michigan
"Asef Bayat provocatively questions the Arab Spring's apparent moderation, tracing its softness to decades of neoliberalism that have undermined the national state and discarded old-fashioned forms of revolutionary violence. This groundbreaking book is not an obituary for the Arab Spring but a hopeful glimpse at its future."
—Olivier Roy, author of The Failure of Political Islam