Decentralised anti-hierarchical organising in the Syrian and Palestinian uprisings
Professor Chetan Bhatt (Department of Sociology) and Dr Sara Salem (Department of Sociology)
Middle East Studies, Mobilisation, Political Sociology, Social Movements, Critical Theory, Critical Realism, Anarchism, Qualitative Methods, Contentious Politics, Revolutions
My research project seeks to outline how and why Palestinian and Syrian activists involved in their respective popular uprisings (1987 and 2011) chose to organise on a non-hierarchical ‘horizontal’ basis, eschewing traditional leadership and party models to build widespread and resilient grassroots popular resistance networks. In doing so, I wish to ask what lessons can be learned from the trajectory of these decentralised revolutionary social movements – their rapid growth, their embeddedness into the social fabric of their societies, their remarkable achievements in challenging each repressive regime, and their eventual failure and outmanoeuvre by competing forces within each society. What characterised the revolutionary processes in Palestine and Syria – how did each forge and mobilise networks at the rural/village level to sustain a popular mass challenge to existent state authority? How did each revolution’s class dynamics and geo-spatial specificities impact its organisational form? In short – what made these revolutions function in the way that they did?
2020. ‘During this pandemic, governments have waged a parallel war on the truth’, Ceasefire Magazine, 24 August 2020.