Activity 6: Revolution in bad times? Sudan after the Arab Spring

3 hours


To help us to understand:

  • The nature of the state and state power
  • What revolution might look like, and the challenges of making revolution in the 21st century
  • What lessons can be drawn from the Arab revolutions of 2010-11 and how these might apply to the revolution currently underway in Sudan
  • 5 Key questions in relation to the revolution in Sudan: analysis, visions of the future, forms of resistance, overall political strategy and contribution to new politics.

Task 1: Revolution in Bad Times? Explaining the Arab Spring

This session will take the form of a presentation that will introduce us to the Arab revolutions of 2010-11 (“Arab Spring”) and different perspectives on these revolutions, paying particular attention to the ideas of sociologist Asef Bayat.

The presentation will include a clip from a video interview with Bayat – Revolutions without revolutionaries

The presentation will cover the following:

  • A brief history of the Arab revolutions of 2010-11: how they started, spread and what outcomes they produced
  • Contending perspectives and assessments of the Arab revolutions, including that of Gilbert Achcar and Asef Bayat
  • Bayat’s distinction between “revolution as process” and “revolution as change”, and his characterisation of the Arab revolutions as “refolutions”: revolutionary in terms of mobilisation but reformist in terms of change
  • Bayat’s argument that the cause of this cannot only be ascribed to the unpreparedness of the revolutionaries, but that it also speaks to ideological and organisational weaknesses of movements on the Left, across the world today.

The aim of this session is not simply to teach the history of
the Arab revolutions. It is to give participants an understanding
of the nature of the state, state power, and revolution in the 21st
century. This will also assist participants in making sense of the
current revolution in Sudan, the focus of the next session.

We will have 75 minutes (1h15 minutes) for this task

Task 2: The Revolution in Sudan with Walaa Salah & Muzan Alneel

For this task, activists Walaa Salah and Muzan Alneel will present on the following 5 questions in relation to the revolution in Sudan:

  1. What was the analysis of the problems facing Sudan put forward by revolutionaries?
  2. What vision/s of the future animated the revolution?
  3. What forms of resistance were employed?
  4. What was the overall political strategy?
    • How did activists relate to the state and think about the question of state power?
    • How were activists organised?
    • Who were the people/social forces driving the revolution?
  5. Did the revolution produce new or alternative forms of organization and political participation?

In answering these questions, Salah and Alneel will draw on their own experiences during (and prior to) the revolution and give participants a more nuanced understanding of both what has transpired and the current situation in Sudan.

We will have 1h45 minutes for this task

Speaker Bios:

Muzan Alneel is an engineer, a Marxist activist and a blogger. One of many activists detained during the uprising, Muzan is one of the most important critical voices in Sudan today, pointing to the weaknesses and contradictions of the current political arrangement.

Walaa Salah is a human rights activist with a legal background. In 2007, she was the first woman and youngest ever to be elected as the President of the Khartoum Students Union. Walaa currently lives in Nairobi, where she works on Sudan issues, and travels back frequently to the country.

Please refer to the reading pack for:

“Revolution without Revolutionaries: Making Sense of the Arab Spring” – An Interview with Asef Bayat. (25 Jan 2018)

Reem Abbas, “Sudan’s protests: The revolt of the periphery”, Al Jazeera. (28 Jan 2019)

Last updated December 15, 2019 6:09 pm