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Seminar series talk- Benoit Challand on 'Violence and Representation in the Arab Uprisings'

Picture of graffiti in Tunis, early 2013. Taken from L. Lacquaniti 2015. I Muri di Tunisi. Rome: Exorma
Wednesday, November 22, 2023, 5:30 pm – 7:00 pm

Providing a longue durée perspective on the Arab uprisings of 2011, Benoît Challand narrates the transformation of citizenship in the Arab Middle East, from a condition of latent citizenship in the colonial and post-independence era to the revolutionary dynamics that stimulated democratic participation in the region in 2011. Considering the parallel histories of citizenship and marginalization in Yemen and Tunisia, Challand develops innovative theories of violence and representation. He argues that a new collective imaginary, or the collective force of the people, emerged as a force, representing itself as the sovereign power that could decide when violence ought to be used to protect all citizens from corrupt power. Shedding light upon uprisings in Yemen, Tunisia, but also elsewhere in the Middle East, this book offers deeper insights into conceptions of violence, representation, and democracy. It compares the post-2011 efforts to build a decentralized political order in Tunisia with the calls for federalism in Yemen, and the shared demands for democratic accountability over the means of coercion.

Benoit Challand is associate professor of Sociology at The New School for Social Research, New York. He holds a PhD from the European University Institute in Florence (2005), and has held positions as assistant professor at NYU (Kevorkian Center for Near East Studies), associate professor in Sociology at the Scuola Normale Superiore in Florence and professor of contemporary history at the University of Fribourg. He is author of the books Violence and Representation in the Arab Uprisings (Cambridge University Press, 2023), and Palestinian Civil Society. Foreign Donors and the Power to Promote and Exclude (Routledge, 2009). His work has been translated into Arabic and has numerous co-edited publications such as The Arab Uprisings and Foreign Assistance (co-edited with F. Bicchi and S. Heydemann, Routledge 2016), while the two monographs The Myth of the Clash of Civilizations (Routledge 2011) and Imagining Europe: Myth, Memory and Identity (Cambridge University Press 2013) were co-authored with philosopher Chiara Bottici. He is also interested in democratic theory, Western European Marxism, and settler colonialism in comparative perspectives.

If you are a non-CEU affiliate and would like to participate in person, please register here. If you would like to participate online, please register here.


Picture of graffiti in Tunis, early 2013. Taken from L. Lacquaniti 2015. I Muri di Tunisi. Rome: Exorma