Andrew Hom of University of Glasgow, has published a new paper titled Angst springs eternal: Dangerous times and the dangers of timing the ‘Arab Spring’.
In his paper, Andrew explores why humanity responds to revolutions with intervention. More substantially, it analyzes scholars’ early responses to the Arab Spring, finds three temporal tropes (time as a problem to be solved, flood metaphors, and temporal Othering) running through them, and uses a theory of timing to explain why and how they constitute a conservative and conventionally western-centric response to surprising political changes. Andrew also proposes three alternative temporalities that scholars might use instead to grapple with novel changes.
Andrew’s paper can be downloaded here for free, through SAGE journals. A more detailed abstract is included below.
Abstract: Various reflections on the ‘Arab Spring’ evince a common view of the relationship between change and time that imbues events with a sense of intrinsic peril. Based on a framework developed from Norbert Elias’s concept of timing, this article elaborates the relationship between time and the ‘Arab Spring’ by unpacking and explaining three rhetorical tropes prevalent in academic responses to the revolts. The first two construct a problem to which the third proffers a solution. First, analysts treat time itself as a problematic force confounding stability and progress. Second, they deploy fluvial metaphors to present dynamic events as inherently insecure. Third, they use temporal Othering to retrofit the ‘Arab Spring’ to the familiar arc of liberal democracy, which renders the revolts intelligible and amenable to external intervention. These moves prioritize certainty and order over other considerations and constrain open-ended transformations within a familiar rubric of political progress. They also constitute an active timing effort based on a conservative standard, with important implications for our understanding of security and for scholarly reflexivity. The article concludes with three temporal alternatives for engaging novel changes like the ‘Arab Spring’.