Complete Story

DIAB, Kefaya

Summer 2021, 51.4, pages: 261-275

The Rise of the Arab Spring through a Sense of Agency


Upon the Arab Spring’s rise (2010–11), Arabs started expressing a sense of confidence in their capabilities as agents of change (a sense of agency). The emergence of that sense appears to have pushed Arabs to protest in the streets across their region. I draw on theories of agency, affects, and rhetorical ecologies to illuminate the emergence of the sense of agency in the Tunisian revolution. I explicate that Arab cultures and Islamic tradition inspired the emergence of the sense of agency and its interrelation with a sense of vulnerability and a sense of responsibility among Arabs, which pushed them to revolt. Thus, I offer a decolonial theory that affirms the Arab Spring as an authentic movement led by its people. The theory contributes a new answer to the long-standing dispute over agency, which is essential to understand how structurally marginalized groups arrive at the moment of resistance across cultures.

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