Ten years ago, Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi stood in the middle of traffic, shouted “How do you expect me to make a living?” and set himself on fire, catalyzing popular protests in Tunisia and across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), and creating a lens through which advocates, scholars, and policymakers understand the region until today. Protesters took to the streets to demand freedom, economic justice, and accountability; political activists put forth proposals for reform and institutional change; civil society convened to bring about action; and journalists documented the events as they unfolded. Ten years later, we see a region that tells a complicated narrative: one of agency, openings, and resilience; yet also, one of repression, civil war, and mass atrocity.
The story of organizing in the MENA region did not begin and will not end with the “Arab Spring.” And so, in a commitment to share and learn from the lived experiences of those presenting alternate visions to decades of status quo, TIMEP is pleased to put forth “Ten Years On: Organizing in the MENA Region,” a project that will provide a platform for those who have organized, are organizing, and will organize in the region. Through “Ten Years On,” and in collaboration with its fellows, partners, and network, TIMEP will host interactive, audiovisual, and written content that unpacks how organizing has evolved; how governments and non-state actors have responded; and where we find ourselves today. In doing so, “Ten Years On,” will look into three spaces in which these contestations have unfolded: on the ground, in cyberspace, and in exile.