People, sects and states: interrogating sectarianism in the contemporary Middle East

Matthew T Johnson (Editor), Simon Mabon, Lucia Ardovini, Gilbert Ramsay, Nicola Mathie, Sarah V. Marsden, Hannes Baumann, Abbas Assi, Thomas Scheffler, Sossie Kasbarian, Nina Musgrave, Gordon Clubb, May Darwich, Tamirace Fakhoury

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationSpecial issue

6 Citations (Scopus)


In late 2010, the self-immolation of the Tunisian street vendor Mohammad Bouazzizi triggered the outbreak of the Arab Uprisings, the ramifications of which shaped the nature of regional relations over the coming half-decade. His act, borne out of socio-economic frustrations triggered a spate of protests that dramatically altered the regional order and fragmenting regime–society relations. Previously embedded regimes were challenged and, in some cases, overthrown, as individual agency was empowered.Regional dynamics ebbed and flowed, with revolution and counter-revolution taking place across the Middle East and North Africa. Some states were more susceptible to the tides of revolution than others, with Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen overthrowing autocratic leaders, to varying degrees of success. Regimes in Saudi Arabia and across the Gulf broadly, with the notable exception of Bahrain, were able to stand strong in the face of revolutionary currents. The events of the uprisings seemed to legitimise the actions of certain actors across the region who had long pursued a campaign of resistance to contemporary Middle East power structures. Integral to the actions of many groups across the region were narratives of resistance and a desire to empower the down-trodden of the region yet in the face of this, regimes sought to frame the protests along sectarian lines, subject to external interference.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages182
Specialist publicationGlobal Discourse
PublisherBristol University Press
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2016


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