Panel 8

“Emotional Legacies and Affects in Collective Action”

(All informations below are from the website of the Scuola Normale Superiore)

Date and time: Friday 2nd December 2022 | 15:00 – 16:30 PM

Room: Simone del Pollaiolo

1.) Discussant: Dr. Nermin Allam – Rutgers University

2.) “The emotional legacies of the 2011 Syrian and Egyptian revolutions”(Co-authored)

Laura Ruiz de Elvira – Institut de Recherche pour le Développement (IRD) | ERC LIVE-AR

Chaymaa Hassabo – French Institute of the Near East based in Beirut | ERC LIVE-A

The sociology of political emotions has undergone a revival over the last twenty years: while some authors evoke the idea of an emotional turn (Plamper, 2009), others highlight the emergence of new “emotional movements” (Walgrave and Verhulst, 2006) and call for an exploration of the emotional dynamics that arise from interactions and conflicts among political factions and individuals (Goodwin, Jasper, and Polletta, 2001). While these works have frequently focused on the affects and emotions as they unfold in and during collective action, we know less about the “emotional legacies” of activism, understood here as “the emotional residue that emerges from the remembered past, including regret, pride, resentment, nostalgia, and tiredness” (Nussio, 2012).

We propose to contribute to this understudied topic by proving some responses to the following questions: How do participants in extraordinary events such as revolutions recall these moments? How do they experience the aftermath of these disruptive processes emotionally? Which affects and emotions do they mobilize when remembering these groundbreaking times? In order to do so, we aim at studying, from a Syrian-Egyptian comparative perspective and a micro-level approach, the “emotional legacies” of revolutionary activism which, as some works have started to show, have entailed a multitude of ambivalent emotions (Kortam, 2017; El- Chazli, 2020a; Ruiz de Elvira, 2021) – such as sadness, despair, hate, fear, happiness, joy, psychological calm, and brotherhood – but they have also given rise to affective ruptures. Do Syrian and Egyptian revolutionaries express feelings of regret, shame or resentment when recalling their past revolutionary experience? Or, on the contrary, do they rather underline positive feelings and emotions? How do the “politics of disappointment” (Allam, 2015) unfold in the two cases? Can we observe common trends despite the differences between the two revolutionary processes and their political aftermaths? We will rely on biographical material collected in Lebanon, Turkey (for the Syrian case) and Egypt between 2014 and 2022, as well as on data from digital social networks (Facebook and Twitter).

3.) “Remaining Political Subjects: Peace Activism, Ethics and Care”

Guldem Ozatagan – Newcastle University

This paper directs its attention to the activism of a group of academics in Turkey, now known as Academics for Peace (AfP), who contested the armed clashes in Turkey’s mostly Kurdish populated Southeastern cities and demanded peace for all by signing a petition in 2016. The paper investigates processes of AfPs’ political subjectification by specifically exploring two questions. First, how various forms of criminalisation, stigmatisation and securitisation affected the political subjectivity of AfP activists at a more personal level. Second, through which practices, AfP activists traversed differences in subject positions and maintained themselves and remained political subjects. In exploring these questions, the paper builds on Pulido’s (2003) conceptual distinction between ‘interior life of politics’ and ‘exterior life of politics’ and on the literature of the ethics and politics of care. While the AfP’s activism represented in the public sphere; that is its ‘exterior life of politics’, have attracted widespread attention, what has yet to receive attention is the ways in which ethical and moral imperatives constitute their political subjectivities. Drawing on 50 semi-structured interviews carried out in 2018-2019 as part of an extensive research undertaken at the Human Rights Foundation of Turkey in 2017-2019 with 248 AfP activists, the paper suggests that it is the ethical, moral, and emotional aspects constitutive of ‘internal life of politics’ which traversed differences in AfP activists’ subject positions and maintained their political subjectivities.

4.) “Getting Political through Silence: How the Unsaid Cultivated Politics under Ben Ali”

Maria Nicola Stragapede – Scuola Normale Superiore COSMOS

The political component was more or less absent, it existed only in the songs that we listened to, it existed in some books or in relation to the Palestinian cause, but not in relation to Tunisia” [life-history, recorded, Paris, 18 June 2021] a young Tunisian militant of the Watad remembers, while explaining to me how she used to think about politics before 2011. Coming from a once engaged family, belonging to the strong Leftist movements of the ‘60s and ‘70s under Bourguiba, she joined the Watad [Leftist party coming from a Marxist-Leninist and pan-Arabist tradition] only after the 2011 uprisings, when the verbalisation of politics became possible in the public space. This experience was common for many Leftist militants of her generation. In some occasions referring to themselves as “children of Ben Ali” for their almost forced de-politicisation, as the repression and corruption under Ben Ali’s regime mounted and the Left of the ‘60s and ‘70s retreated to itself, these militants could build their political socialisation otherwise, often passing through friendships, some engaged teachers, a politicised family member, and often books, loaned music cassettes, some first discoveries of internet through proxy. The so-called “opening” of the public space after 2011 made it then possible the expression of this political quest taking shape between the lines, one that brought these militants to the 2011-2013 period of enthusiasm and the disenchantment it brought with itself afterwards.

Through the analysis, this paper helps to complexify the literature on political socialisation through the lens of silence, as well as to shed light on those processes of subjective transformations that have been put aside in the analysis of the Tunisian Left and its role in the political landscape of the country.


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