On September 27, 2022, Iranian musician Shervin Hajipour posted a song to his instagram compiled of tweets from Iranians detailing the reasons they are protesting. The song quickly went viral across social media. Within days of the video’s release, Shervin Hajipour had been arrested, and the original post was taken down. But like the Persian protest songs of the past, albeit in digital form, the video continues to circulate and resonate in digital and physical space. Zuzanna Olzsewska translates the song from Persian into English and discusses its significance amidst ongoing demonstrations in Iran. [Photo: Iranians protesting the death of Mahsa Amini on a street in Tehran, October 1, 2022. Getty Images.]
To complement MERIP’s special issue on settler colonialism, this reading list includes books and articles that map the burgeoning field of settler colonial studies. Although the practices of theorizing, teaching and activism are entwined, we broke the list into sections to aid readers who wish to explore settler colonialism and decolonization from slightly different angles.
The Palestinian uprising of April, May and June 2021—known as the Unity Intifada—is part of a long tradition of revolutionary political activity in which Palestinians from Jerusalem have often played a role. Akram Salhab and Dahoud al-Ghoul report from the city about the reasons youth feel compelled to act and how they are organizing. They investigate the ways this uprising builds on earlier civic action and why this intifada is so important.
Although issues of domestic surveillance and discrimination faced by Arabs living in the United States became more prominent after the attacks of September 11, 2001, MERIP has been covering them continuously since the organization was founded 50 years ago. Pamela Pennock surveys how MERIP has written about issues of surveillance, struggles for justice and solidarity in the Arab American community. Forthcoming in the Fall 2021 issue “MERIP at 50.”
Oil workers in Iran have been striking since June 19, 2021, leading some observers to ask whether protests are becoming routine within the existing political system or are a prelude to a bigger uprising. The authors explain what makes these strikes remarkable, why Iran’s neoliberal policies pushed workers to organize and how the state and society are reacting.
In 2019, eight years after the Arab Spring uprisings, President Béji Caïd Essebsi declared that Tunisians would commemorate the abolition of slavery on January 23 each year. It was on this date in 1846 that the then-governor of Ottoman Tunisia, Ahmad Bey, signed a decree authorizing enslaved Black people to request manumission certificates. Dating back to the medieval period, this region—like other parts of the Mediterranean and the Muslim world—had relied on the work of African as well as European enslaved men and women.
Begüm Adalet reviews Burak Erdim’s “Landed Internationals: Planning Cultures, the Academy, and the Making of the Modern Middle East.” As in past decades, universities in Turkey are venues of contestation between authority and resistance, with the government imposing its singular vision of a “pious, homegrown, national youth” on a diverse student body. Erdim’s book is the story of one such institution, the Middle East Technical University (METU) in Ankara, which was an iconic site of leftist student mobilization and anti-US protests in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
On April 3, 2021, Prince Hamzeh bin Hussein of Jordan was confined by the Jordanian armed forces to his home and cut off from outside communication. While many observers speculate about palace politics, Matthew Lacouture delves into the significance of the prince’s statements decrying corruption and economic mismanagement. He shows how Hamzeh’s words echo the grievances of activists as he traces the evolving discourses of labor, youth and popular mobilizations across Jordan.
In the midst of deepening political and economic crises, the recent assassinations of two intellectuals—Hisham al-Hashimi in Iraq and Lokman Slim in Lebanon—have shaken the popular protest movements that are pushing for fundamental change in both countries. Haugbolle and Andersen consider the consequences for those who challenge the status quo of government corruption and crumbling public services, both in the streets and through documentation and scholarship.
Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational.
Hakim Addad has been a political activist in Algeria for decades. In this interview with Thomas Serres he discusses the increasing repression of peaceful demonstrators under President Tebboune, the positive role of a new generation of activists in the Hirak movement, his arrests and imprisonment and the challenges of being binational. Forthcoming in MER 298, “Maghreb From the Margins.”
Fruzan Afshar traces the contested politics and complex law of setting the minimum wage and cost of living figures in Iran. She shows how Iranian labor activists are making innovative use of the state’s labor laws to secure political inclusion and a platform to voice demands.
Kenan Behzat Sharpe spoke with Candan about his latest film project Nuclear alla Turca, a documentary on the history of atomic energy in Turkey, a country on the verge of building its very first nuclear plant despite a growing anti-nuclear movement.
Although Algeria’s 2019 Hirak uprising came as a surprise to many, previous instances of popular mobilization, like the impressive protests against fracking that emerged in several southern Algerian cities in 2014 and 2015, not only highlighted the intersection of political and environmental questions, but also paved the way for peaceful modes of resistance.
Morocco’s massive Noor solar power installation in Ouarzazate is celebrated as an important step in the transition to renewable energy. But the benefits are not flowing to all citizens. Rural unrest and other demonstrations of discontent in recent years are piercing the government’s techno-optimism. Long-standing repression, economic marginalization and lack of investment in services or infrastructure as well as water pollution are among the local realities faced by residents.
Morocco’s massive Noor solar power installation in Ouarzazate is celebrated as an important step in the transition to renewable energy. But the benefits are not flowing to all citizens. Rural unrest and other demonstrations of discontent in recent years are piercing the government’s techno-optimism. Long-standing repression, economic marginalization and lack of investment in services or infrastructure as well as water pollution are among the local realities faced by residents. Forthcoming in MER 296 “Nature and Politics.”