From Hong Kong to Chile, from Lebanon to India, from Iraq to Colombia, from Algeria to Argentina, from Iran to France, from Sudan to Haiti, from Ecuador to Guinea and beyond, “Protest is the new normal,” as Serge Halimi recently wrote in Le Monde diplomatique. Yet, we are confronted with a paradox: we are also living through another global wave—the rise of right-wing, authoritarian-populist forces, movements, and strong men around the world: Orbán in Hungary, Modi in India, Bolsonaro in Brazil, Erdoğan in Turkey, Salvini in Italy, Duterte in the Philippines, Sisi in Egypt, and, lest we omit ourselves, Trump in the United States.
How do we make sense of this apparent paradox? How should we understand these momentous global developments? Are the various protest movements around the world connected somehow? If so, what are their common features or through lines? At the same time, what are the specific dynamics and characteristics that make each case distinct? One cannot address all of the aforementioned countries in a single panel discussion, but on 20 January 2020 (Martin Luther King Jr., Day) the Center for International and Area Studies at Northwestern University hosted a panel discussion that examined five of them—Lebanon, Hong Kong, Chile, India, and Iran.
Loubna El Amine
Loubna El Amine teaches in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern. Her first book, Classical Confucian Political Thought: A New Interpretation, was published in 2015. She is currently working on a second book, tentatively titled Status and Membership in the Ancient Confucian Political Community. Loubna was born and raised in Beirut and went to college at the American University of Beirut (AUB). In addition to her scholarly work, she writes frequently (in both English and Arabic) on issues like Lebanon and the Arab world, “On Being Muslim in Trump’s America,” “Hoping against Hope: A Perspective on the US Elections from the Periphery,” and “Are ‘democracy’ and ‘human rights’ Western colonial exports? No. Here’s why."
Daniel Borzutzky teaches in the Latin American and Latino Studies Program and the Department of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His 2016 poetry collection, The Performance of Becoming Human, won the National Book Award. His most recent publication is Lake Michigan (2018). He serves as the Intercambio Poetry Editor at Chicago’s MAKE Magazine—and is also an artistic director for the Lit and Luz Festival, an ongoing collaboration between writers and artists from Chicago and Mexico. You might have seen his recent New York Times op-ed “Chile Is in Danger of Repeating Its Past."
Kaveh Ehsani teaches in the Department of International Studies at DePaul University. He is co-editor of the book Working for Oil: Comparative Social Histories of Labor in the Oil Industry (2018). He has been a contributing editor to the journal Goftogu (Dialogue) in Tehran, Middle East Report (MERIP), and Iranian Studies. His research focuses on the historical sociology of warfare; the politics of property, land use, and water; the urban process and spatial change in Middle East cities; and the political economy and geopolitics of post-revolution Iran.
William Hurst teaches in the Department of Political Science at Northwestern. He is the author of The Chinese Worker after Socialism (2009) and Ruling before the Law: The Politics of Legal Regimes in China and Indonesia (2018). He is the editor/co-editor of three books: Laid-off Workers in a Workers’ State: Unemployment with Chinese Characteristics (2009), Local Governance Innovation in China: Experimentation, Diffusion, and Defiance (2014), and Urban Chinese Governance, Contention, and Social Control in the New Millennium (2019).
Shailja Sharma teaches International Studies, Critical Ethnic Studies, and Global Asian Studies at DePaul University, where she teaches courses on migration and forced migration, identities and boundaries, cultural analysis, and comparative literature. She is the author of Postcolonial Minorities in Britain and France: In the Hyphen of the Nation-State (2016) and co-editor of New Cosmopolitanisms: South Asians in the US (2006). She authored a recent op-ed in the New York Daily News “In India, citizens are rising up against hate.”
Danny Postel is the Assistant Director of the Center for International and Area Studies at Northwestern University. He is co-editor of The People Reloaded: The Green Movement and the Struggle for Iran's Future (2011), The Syria Dilemma (2013), and Sectarianization: Mapping the New Politics of the Middle East (2017). He worked for several years in the labor movement, as Communications Coordinator for Interfaith Worker Justice and as Communications Specialist for Stand Up! Chicago, a coalition of labor unions and grassroots community organizations.
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