Call for papers: “Becoming activists in North Africa and the Middle East. Paths of political subjectivation during and after the Uprisings”

On the occasion of the 14th SeSaMO Conference “Paths of Resistance in the Middle East and North Africa” (University of Turin, 31 January – 2 February 2019), we invite papers to the panel:

“Becoming activists in North Africa and the Middle East. Paths of political subjectivation during and after the Uprisings”


Francesco Vacchiano (Institute of Social Sciences – University of Lisbon),

Alice Elliot (Goldsmiths, University of London),


The events that shook the Arab-majority countries in 2011 have been scrutinized under a variety of angles: as a result of economic stagnation and authoritarianism, as an outcome of youth bulge, unemployment and frustration, as a response to old and new neoliberal experiments, as an effect of the new web-based social media, as a new cycle in a series of recurring revolutionary moments, as the cumulative upshot of a patient grass-roots construction, and more. While such perspectives are certainly relevant, each of them illuminating some specific feature of the phenomenon, they focus mostly on social, economic and political dynamics, being individual motivation and choice often treated as mere consequences of structural factors. Far from dismissing the significance of historical and political dynamics, we aim to explore also the forms in which people understand the events and decide to step in and commit for a change. This is relevant to introduce a reflection on freedom and choice within a theorization often marked by social determinism.

Our panel welcomes contributions that illuminate the individual experience of activism, social and political participation and personal commitment in North Africa and the Middle East during and after the revolts of 2011. We are particularly interested in exploring people’s motivations and decisions, continuities and discontinuities in their life experience, as well as their own understanding of activism, resistance, rebellion, engagement and politics. We ask in particular what are the events that trigger a change on a personal level, what are their consequences on a longer term and, more generally, how a new political subjectivity can emerge within a specific social context.

A complete list of the open and closed panels is available at:

Paper proposals must specify the open panel for which they are intended and must be submitted by email to by 31 October 2018 (please email also convenors in CC).

Proposals must include a title, a 250-word abstract and a 50-word profile of the proponent/s. The application is required in Word format.

We look forward to reveiving your proposals!

Alice Elliot,

Francesco Vacchiano,

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