Based on empirical materials, recent cultural histories, and comparative theories, this lecture explores the connection between tradition and revolution, with specific attention to the complex sociological and cultural dynamics of the ongoing upheavals in the Arab region.
Do revolutions emerge out of new revolutionary consciousness or out of old cultural traditions? The Arab uprisings that began in 2011 were characterized by a curious combination of anarchist method and liberal ideology, neither of which appear at first sight to be based on any familiar local traditions in the region. Was this because we, as observers, do not understand how what we call “tradition” operates, or was it because old traditions in the region are dissolving and giving rise to new knowledge, especially among the youth?
Mohammed Bamyeh is Professor and incoming Chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh, USA, and a member of the board of trustees of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS). Currently he is City of Vienna/IFK_ Fellow.