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Syllabus for an uprising

February 23, 2011

‘”By God, I am confused,” exclaimed Colonel Gadafi at one Libyan popular conference.’

Ten days ago As’ad Abukhalil posted this reading list sent to him by ‘an old hand on the Middle East.’ The list is by no means conclusive: in fact, it goes out of its way not to be. The choices of texts and the reasoning behind them stood out for two reasons: (1) all texts were written before 1983 (‘I prefer to read material from the 70s and 80s when in my view the analysis was sharper and the writing better’), and (2) rather than look for predictions it offers an opportunity for serious study and observation of ‘models [of] how to look at sudden uprisings.’

A few colleagues and I have formed an informal reading group, beginning in early March, to begin tackling these texts, beginning with Ruth First’s Libya: The Elusive Revolution on the causes and consequences of the 1969 revolution. I will be posting at least once after each reading.

In the interest of broader sharing and pooling of knowledge resources I posted the syllabus here (adding two additional texts, one each on Iran and Algeria). Some texts are available online either in partial or full form. Others are either costly or in fragile states (and in one case, can’t even leave the library). In that case I will try to make the texts available via a link. I will send a .pdf of any work unavailable online to anyone who asks for it via email.

Update: As mentioned, our first discussion will take place in on 5 March on Ruth First’s book on the Libyan revolution. If you would like to receive this text via email, please send an email to southissouth [at] gmail [dot] com. I encourage fellow readers to post thoughts in the comment section of this blog or via email, or if feeling especially inspired to take part in the live discussion at 5 p.m. EST, send your Skype handle.

(Art by My Dead Pony.)

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Daniel F. Rivera Gómez permalink
    February 23, 2011 06:08

    I think is a very nice idea. I’m looking forward to see more about his initiative.

    With my bet regards,


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