Post-Arab Spring studies as a critique of post-colonial studies

D.Wael Saleh

As we have demonstrated in the series that analyzed and criticized the discourse of those sympathize with Islamism in Western academia, the situation has taken some of those affiliated with the postcolonial trend (who seek for a correct understanding of former colonies by eliminating the wrong ideas planted by old and modern imperial circles and studies), that represented by people like Talal Asad and Saba Mahmoud, to coincide today with the trend of orientalism in its colonial section represented by people like Bernard Lewis (who believes that Islam is a political religion in nature, that secularism itself is the problem and not the solution to the problems of the Arab Islamic world, and that the renewal of religious discourse is an imperialist project sponsored by the West (which is the same as what Islamists believe ).

This current does not hesitate, therefore, in the absolute adoption of the founding statements of Islamists and considering them from the core of Islam itself as a religion, claiming that  such religion gives the opportunity for Arabs and Muslims to express themselves by themselves, without judging them by the Western cultural and philosophical perspective, as if Islamism is the only representative of that culture and that religion and as if the currents of the other different groups in the post-colonial societies are one entity in which there is no multiplicity, although this post-colonial current knows from its Western societies and from the social and human sciences that the multiplicity of groups within the one religious fabric is the rule not the opposite.

We also have explained that while these adherents to the postcolonial current claim seeking for making the voice of the world’s former colonies heard, they end up committing the opposite; by creating a situation in which studies and societies rely on them solely to speak on behalf of former colonial societies, instead of allowing them to speak directly, as if it is destined that others should speak on behalf of them under colonialism in the name of orientalism and then in the name of post-colonial studies.

This intentional removal of the lofty goals of the postcolonial current (which was targeted by its founders such as Edward Said) yielded a kind of new orientalism; this is by continued framing of the Arab world in a way that meets the aspirations, imagination and ambitions of the West to own such region by owning its images and representations, as the traditional orientalism did.

In front of such a situation, Arab researchers must criticize and analyze this trend and suggest other approaches to understand and help our region and its societies to develop and to be able to express themselves and to reach their own cognitive approach to understand their phenomena, especially after the so-called Arab Spring, which proved the failure of most of the methodologies and studies that were prevalent before and during the Arab Spring and its ignorance and intended disregarding of the realities, which resulted in the disastrous situation today in the region.

In this context, I propose what I call Post-Arab Spring Studies, a term that can refer to three distinct meanings: Firstly, a purely historical meaning indicating to a time interval between the period before and after the so-called Arab Spring. In this term, only those relating to the post-2011 period are taken into consideration. Secondly, scientific studies that are produced during the post-Arab spring phase. Thirdly, a scientific approach in which the discourses, approaches, cognitive curricula that prevailed in the Arab world are criticized and analyzed in details. All these theses form the cognitive heart of post-Arab Spring studies.

The Post-Arab Spring studies seek for increasing research interested in the development of the Arab world, avoiding the hegemony of scientific imperialism and radical relativism of the dominant currents in the human and social sciences.  This shall analyze the phenomena of the Arab region through a realistic approach that transcends the boundaries of disciplines and shall also seek for developing a methodological, intellectual and theoretical field that can transcend blind points and the intellectual ghetto of those currents that prevailed despite their cognitive and methodological delinquency.

These studies of the development of the Arab nation-state should be among the main subjects of post-Arab Spring studies and shall designed to answer, through a critical approach, the existing traditional questions such as: How does knowledge of the nation-state develop in the Arab world in the sphere of the human and social sciences? What are the cognitive and ontological approaches that are dominant in dealing with the nation-state in the current Western literature and studies? How can academic research help in the progress and prosperity of society and the citizen within the framework of the current nation-state in the Arab world? These are examples of issues that must be dealt with in a new way within the scope of that topic: social capital, civil peace, social cohesion, living together, citizenship, rule of law, state space, public space, reconciliation between freedom and security, the danger of Islamism, civil society, political legitimacy, the developmental state and the systemization of the relation between religion and politics, which helps the emergence of a democratic state of citizenship.

Meanwhile, studies of international organizations about their relationship with the Arab world should also be among the main subjects of post-Arab Spring studies and it shall answer, through a critical approach to the existing traditional literature on the subject, questions such as: How do these organizations conduct in the Arab countries? Is it fair with them? Is it democratic in its government pattern and decision-making process? Is the international law really a law? How does the extent of its strength or weakness affect Arab countries? This topic also aims to evaluate and analyze the performance of those international organizations, which are often responsible for evaluating countries and their leaders without being the subject of a serious, in-depth and periodic evaluation. Examples of new theses that must be addressed within the scope of this topic: the state of democracy at the level of international governance, a critical evaluation of the interventions of international organizations in the Arab countries, the geopolitics of injustice and inequality in the relation of these organizations with some countries, the great powers and international institutions, hegemony and humiliation as a geopolitical factor and geopolitics of chaos and conflict management.

Moreover, the study of international media and its relationship with the Arab world should also be one of the main topics of post-Arab Spring studies. This study should also answer, through a critical approach questions such as: How does the international media operate? Who funds it? How does funding affect the handling of issues specific to the Arab world? How does it produce and address information and opinions on the Arab region? Are its analyses innocent of the influence of ideology, power struggle, or pressure groups? Is it fair and neutral? The aim of these studies is to monitor and analyze the international media, which are often not closely monitored or analyzed. Examples of topics that need to be dealt with in a new way within the scope of this topic: Journalism ethics between theory and practice, objectivity and neutrality in a post-truth era, media imperialism, media and pressure groups, economics and media, ideology and media, the diversity of means is not pluralism, the imposition of consent, demonization, political agendas and the media, manipulation of information and marketing and advertising and their impact on the content.

The critical study of the academic studies on the Arab world should also be a major consideration of post-Arab Spring studies. This kind of study should answer, through a critical approach questions such as: What does Western academia produce about the Arab world? How is it done? What are the ontological, cognitive and methodological approaches prevailing in Western academic work about the Arab world, and why do these curricula prevail? What are the consequences of that hegemony? Who are the most prolific writers, who are the most influential, and who are the most marginal in areas related to the Arab world? What about their studies and scientific career, what is their concept of the humanities and social sciences, what is their ideology or vision about the world? Are their analyses not affected by ideology or influence from their countries or pressure groups? Are they truly scientifically neutrals? Examples of topics that need to be addressed in a new way in the scope of this topic: academic ethics, objectivity, neutrality, the subjectivity of the researcher, scientific imperialism, the relativism of the social and human sciences, academic lobbyists, criticism of the literature on the phenomena of the Arab world and comparative studies between the literature and the studies dealing with those phenomena, the modeling illusion.

In conclusion, after the collusion of some of those affiliated to the post-colonial current in what the region reached during the so-called Arab Spring and after many leaders in the West at the political, cultural and media levels adopted the misleading conclusions of its researches, the post-Arab Spring studies seek for criticizing and analyzing the post-colonial current which has turned into a kind of Orientalism that achieves the goals of Islamism and imperialism together, by proposing new approaches to understand and to help our region and its societies in progress and prosperity on the one hand, and to enable them to truly express themselves by themselves and to reach their own epistemological approach to understand their phenomena on the other hand.



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