This talk explores what ordinary people (in the Middle East) do to get around and resist the severe constraints the authoritarian polity, neo-liberal economics, and moral authorities impose on their civil and economic rights. Bayat discusses the diverse ways in which subaltern groups – men, women, and the young – seek to affect the contours of change in their societies by refusing to exit from the social and political stage controlled by authoritarian regimes and by discovering or generating spaces within which they can assert their rights and enhance their life chances. He conceptualizes these everyday and dispersed practices as ‘non-movements’, and discusses how by establishing alternative norms in society they become the matrix of broader social change in society, and how they may or may not evolve into larger societal movements.

Asef Bayat, the Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the Department of Sociology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, before which he taught at the American University in Cairo for 16 years, and served as the director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), holding the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University. His research ranges from social movements and social change, to religion-politics-everyday life, Islam and the modern world, and urban space and politics. His recent books include Making Islam Democratic: Social Movements and the Post-Islamist Turn (2007); (with Linda Herrera) Being Young and Muslim: Cultural Politics in the Global South and North (2010); and Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (2010), Leben als Politik. Wie ganz normale Leute den Nahen Osten verändern (2012). The revised and extended edition of Life as Politics will be published in May 2013, and so will Post-Islamism: The Changing Faces of Political Islam.

In English
Organized by

An ICI Berlin Lecture in collaboration with Assoziation A.

The lecture is part of the ICI Lecture Series Constituting Wholes. After the disenchantments of the postmodern post-cold-war period and in the face of global crises – be they financial, economic, political, or ecological – the critical need to include a holistic perspective is felt with renewed urgency, as is the concern that the situatedness of any such perspective and the multiple, incommensurable ways of constituting wholes may be forgotten.

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