In This Review

Citizenship and Its Discontents: The Struggle for Rights, Pluralism, and Inclusion in the Middle East
Citizenship and Its Discontents: The Struggle for Rights, Pluralism, and Inclusion in the Middle East
Edited by Thanassis Cambanis and Michael Wahid Hanna
Century Foundation, 2019, 480 pp

In this sobering edited volume, Cambanis and Hanna showcase a broad spectrum of academics, analysts, and activists in serious and provocative reflection on the disheartening results of the so-called Arab Spring. Many of the contributors were participants in the movements across the Arab world that called for “bread, freedom, and social justice”; disappointment in their failure leaps out from virtually every page. Nor are the political theorists and historians sanguine about the future; for them, the recent movements were merely episodes in long-standing struggles. Less predictably bleak are the remarkable variety and inventiveness of what the editors call “experiments in practice” during and after the uprisings. For instance, a lawyer who advised governments in Egypt, Tunisia, and Yemen offers candid reflections on post-uprising constitutional reform. The founder of Egypt’s most important independent news outlet perceptively explores journalism in the face of censorship. And a senior adviser to an Egyptian presidential candidate discusses the debilitating consequences of political stereotypes. The many contributions of this volume reveal that the fertile political debate sparked by the uprisings continues today.