Gervasio, Gennaro and Andrea Teti

Gramsci’s ‘Southern Question’ and Egypt’s authoritarian retrenchment: subalternity and the disruption of activist agency

Explanations of the authoritarian retrenchment after Egypt’s 2011 Revolution invoke either the regime’s repressive advantage over ‘leaderless’ mobilisation and civic activists, or insufficient preparations and radicalism on the part of opposition groups. Both explanations are unsatisfactory. First, because despite being ‘reformist’, opposition groups’ demands were perceived as radical challenges to regimes before, during and after the uprisings. Second, because appeals to regimes’ coercive capacity contradict explanations of opponents’ rise to prominence before the uprisings: if activists eroded Egypt’s authoritarian regime before 2011, what made them unable to continue doing so afterwards? Conversely, if activists’ agency was effective before 2011 despite gross imbalances in coercive capacity, then those imbalances alone cannot explain activists’ post-revolutionary decline. In short, if activists’ agency cannot be denied before Egypt’s ‘eighteen days’, it must be accounted for in their aftermath. To do this, the authors draw on Gramsci’s original texts and Italian-language scholarship to develop his neglected notion of disgregazione.

More information

Alle Publikationen