Roundtable |The Politics of Democracy: A Transregional Perspective on the Arab Uprisings and the EU’s Failed Response

February 12, 2020 @ 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Sala Triaria, Villa Schifanoia
Sarah StJohn


Abstract | What explains the continued failure of the EU’s policies towards its Southern Neighbourhood? Why does the Union have so little ‘normative power’ there? Comparing a discourse analysis of EU documents with public opinion survey data from Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Tunisia details the mismatch between what citizens want and what the EU is willing to support. To account for the Union’s ongoing failure to adapt to regional populations’ expectations, a framework is then developed to examine the trans-regional politics of democracy on both shores of the Mediterranean based on a generalisation of Foucault’s fragmentary remarks on confession. First, this ‘confessional’ perspective helps explain the apparently paradoxical tension between the EU’s commitment to an emancipatory politics of democratisation and the repeated failure of this policy. Second, it suggests greater attention should be paid to the trans-regional connection between the failure of democratisation abroad and the erosion of democracy at home.

Andrea Teti is Associate Professor at the University of Aberdeen, UK, Associate Editor of Middle East Critique and Trustee of the British Society for Middle East Studies, and was previously Scientific Lead for the Arab Transformations Project (FP7). He has published extensively on the politics of democracy promotion, EU democracy promotion, democratization and authoritarianism in the Middle East, and political theory. His lead author of Democratization Against Democracy (2020) and of The Arab Uprisings in Egypt, Jordan and Tunisia: Social, Political and Economic Transformations (2018).

Everyone is welcome.