Time and location

Tuesday, 24 October 2017, 19:00 - 21:00
Central Library Vienna - Am Gürtel, Urban-Loritz-Platz 2a, 1070 Vienna


Rabab El-Mahdi
American University, Cairo

Haifa Zangana
Iraqi author and activist

Helmut Krieger
Department of Development Studies at the University of Vienna/VIDC

Introduction: Magda Seewald, VIDC

Panel discussion and presentation of the book by the same title, published by Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot, which communicates in its 13 articles the political and scientific discourse that the VIDC initiated in its lecture series on the Arab upheaval over the past several years.

Languages: English and German with simultaneous interpretation

Registration: seewald@remove-this.vidc.org

Crisis, Revolts, and War in the Arab World

Graffiti: El Tennen, Photo: @Sherif Azer
Graffiti: El Tennen, Photo: @Sherif Azer


Since the recapturing of Mosul in Iraq, the jihadist organization the Islamic State (IS) appears to be defeated. The War on Terror proclaimed by many Western states in connection with Arab countries led to what was feared by human rights organizations at the beginning of the offensive against IS: mass exodus and displacement of the local population as well as extensive destruction of the cities through air strikes by an international coalition led by the U.S. This supposed victory over the IS, whose terror cells will continue to operate, is being celebrated. However, an inclusive political project for a sorely afflicted people is left out once again. The fear is that the pacification of Iraq and, one day, Syria will only be a temporary phenomenon – peace will be little more than a period between wars.
In Egypt, on the other hand, a center of the 2011 revolts, the thinly veiled dictatorship under as-Sisi has provided a superficial “graveyard peace.” Thousands of detained political prisoners, the use of torture, and the forced disappearance of members of the opposition brutally underscore that the regime wants to smother the basic democratic demands of the protest movements of 2011 once and for all. With help from loans in the millions, mainly from Saudi-Arabia and international financial institutions like the International Monetary Fund, the economic crisis in the country should also be contained. It is already obvious that the crisis cannot be managed this way, considering the various protests in the country.
These two interwoven developments in the Arab World – the war in Syria and Iraq and the unstable regime in Egypt – will serve as a starting point at the event to explore perspectives for the future:
What remains of the 2011 revolts? To what degree can the different regimes regain stability? Who could be future agents of emancipatory social developments, despite extensive social and economic upheaval?


Rabab El-Mahdi

is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the American University in Cairo. Before that she worked for different development organizations, NGOs, and UN agencies. Rabab El-Mahdi earned her doctorate from McGill University in Montreal with a thesis on the effects of neoliberal economic reconstruction on the changing pattern of relationships between the state and civil society in Egypt and Bolivia. Her research fields include relationships between the state and civil society, social movements and resistance, and the political economy of social policies. Her publications include Egypt: A Decade of Ruptures. In: Taking to the Streets (2014) (Eds. Ellen Lust and Lina El-Khatib); Arab Spring in Egypt. Published with Bahgat Korany (2012).

Haifa Zangana

is an Iraqi author and activist. She has published novels and short stories, such as Women on a Journey: Between Baghdad and London (2007) and Dreaming of Baghdad (1990). Together with Ramsey Clark and Thomas Ehrlich Reifer she published The Torturer in the Mirror (2010). Haifa Zangana is a founding member of the International Association of Contemporary Iraqi Studies (IACIS) as well as co-founder of Tadhamun – Iraqi Women Solidarity. She was an advisor for the UNDP Report Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World (2005) and works as a consultant for ESCWA (United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia). Haifa Zangana is also a columnist at Al Quds Al Arabi and writes for British and U.S. media. In addition, she regularly gives lectures on developments in Iraq. She currently works with former women prisoners in Palestine and Tunisia in order to write about their experiences in prison.

Helmut Krieger

is a social scientist and research associate at the Institute for International Development at the University of Vienna as well as a consultant for the VIDC. His research focuses on the Israel-Palestine conflict, movements of political Islam in the Arab World, Critical State Theories, and post-colonial theory building. Recent publications include: Umkämpfte Staatlichkeit. Palästina zwischen Besatzung, Entwicklung und politischem Islam (2015) as well as the essays Das Ende der Hoffnung: Revolten in der arabischen Welt als diskontinuierlicher Prozess (2015) and Syrien – Aufstand, Krieg und Flucht (2016). He is also the Austrian project coordinator for the APPEAR project Rooting Development in the Palestinian Context, a cooperation between the University of Vienna, Birzeit University in the West Bank, and the Al-Azhar University in the Gaza Strip.

Magda Seewald

is a political scientist and has been a project consultant at VIDC since 2005 with a regional focus on the Arab Region, especially Palestine. She also coordinates a VIDC series on upheaval in the Arab World. As the gender consultant at VIDC, she supervises the area of the gender sensitization of men as well as the mentoring project for refugee women Willkommen Freundin. Magda Seewald is a co-founder of the network REloading Feminismus.


New publication

Krieger, Helmut/ Seewald, Magda/VIDC (Hrsg): Krise, Revolte und Krieg in der arabischen Welt. Verlag Westfälisches Dampfboot, Münster 2017

table of contents