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10.108013629387.2023.2207227.pdf (1.88 MB)

Degeneration and the demos in North Africa: towards a ‘critical’ study of democratisation?

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Version 2 2024-02-08, 09:20
Version 1 2024-02-07, 11:41
journal contribution
revised on 2024-02-08, 09:19 and posted on 2024-02-08, 09:20 authored by Larbi Sadiki, Layla Saleh

This article frames the problematic explored in the Special Issue, namely, the Maghreb and North Africa's ‘crisis of democratization.' Across cases, the crisis is multi-layered, involving first, counter-revolution since the 2011 (and 2019) uprisings and revolutions; second, the breakup of states, particularly those mired in violence (e.g. Libya); and third, setbacks even among states that have to an extent transcended the democratic threshold (e.g. Tunisia). We lay the groundwork for localized and contextualized exploration of ‘degenerations of democratizations' playing out in the region. This involves rethinking the teleological ambit of transitology studies as well as the ‘reverse transitology' scholarship on democratic backsliding. We propose an alternative ‘critical democratization' frame that emphasizes emancipation and attends to the demos. This people-centered approach is fitting for exploring democratization and its setbacks in the context of popular uprisings and revolution. It allows for investigations of local democratic learning and un-learning; local-global and local-regional interactions; entrenched socioeconomic and military structures and disparities; and popular forces of resistance (al-hirak) challenging democratic setbacks. Critical study of democratization necessitates case-by-case explorations probing regional commonalities as well as country-level specificities to investigate how ‘degeneration’ manifests in the Maghreb, North Africa, and the wider Arab region.

Other Information

Published in: The Journal of North African Studies
See article on publisher's website:


Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library.



  • English



Publication Year

  • 2023

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

Institution affiliated with

  • Qatar University
  • College of Arts and Sciences - QU

Geographic coverage

Maghreb and North Africa

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