Category Archives: uprisings

Did the Youth-Led Arab Spring Succeed or Fail? Juan Cole’s answer.

Historian Juan Cole maintains that the young activists did lead successful revolutions, defining revolution as a rapid change in social and political institutions and attitudes caused by a social movement.[i] Various social movements acting together create a revolution. Specifically, the radical youth stopped the practice of presidents for life turning power over to their sons as Mubarak was planning to do in Egypt. They disrupted the financial control of the ousted presidents and their allies in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya. Also, they opened up discussion of political issues and youth unemployment and creation of new political parties. What youth most wanted was karama (dignity), individual rights and freedom similar to social democracy in Nordic countries. Cole said they made “new social and media spaces in which their demands could be voiced.” However, they were naïve to think that deposing an autocrat would change the oppressive system. After the revolutions, they turned their focus from government to organizing thousands of new NGOs, where they continue to use their horizontal and pragmatic organizational skills. He predicts, “They have kicked off what is likely to be a long intergenerational argument.” Because the key problem of youth unemployment hasn’t been solved, they will continue to “agitate for change” having had practice in how to mobilize and network.[ii]

[i] Juan Cole. The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation is Changing the Middle East. Simon & Schuster, 2014, pp. x-xiv.

[ii] Ibid., p. 270.


#NeverAgain gun control activists explain their tactics

David Hogg and Lauren Hogg. #Never Again. Random House, 2018.
What tactics did these Parkland, Florida, savvy and outspoken teenagers use to make so much happen so fast in the gun control movement? David Hogg explained in his #NeverAgain book that they were very disorganized and as teenagers, no one liked being told what to do. If someone had a good idea, they did it, without asking for approval. Individuals focused on what they did well, such as tweeting, giving interviews, or organizing. He said they didn’t have a plan or hire consultants and focus groups, but communicated the way they were used to online. They started by “going to war with the NRA” with tweets suggesting companies end their special deals with the NRA, which gave the students a “bigger stage” of national attention. Gonzales quickly gained more Twitter followers than the NRA. They picked a few clear goals and picked their battles, ignoring trolls but challenging well-known people like Laura Ingraham who criticized his question, “What if our politicians weren’t the bitch of the NRA?” They weren’t respectful of people in authority like Senator Marco Rubio. What Hogg said made them succeed is they “obsessively” stuck to the task of changing the national discussion about gun control, often spending the night at Cameron’s house and waking up with another idea. After the March for Our Lives in Washington, DC, they organized into committees. Hogg said Gonzales is the only “non-type A” person in the group, the “peaceful radiance at the center of all the spinning wheels.” He advises activists to stay loving and “never, ever stop pointing at the naked emperor.”

Video interviews with activists, including youth, by Gayle Kimball

United States


*California feminist activist:


*Feminist health activists:


*A Mexican teenage feminist:


*GLBT activists:


*Feminist Visions of the Future:


*Social justice research by first year students:


*Men’s Changing Roles:


*Envionmental activists in Louisiana and Lanai:


*Climate change activist:


*First graders advocate saving the Rain Forests:


*Dealing with racism:


*Native American activist:


*Asian American activists:


*An undocumenter Dreamer:


*Counselors and a student explain how to develop resilience in the face of adversity:


*Occupy activist:


*The political views of Generation Z students in the US, India and Turkey:



*Pakistani feminists:


*The Gezi Park Uprising in Istanbul as explained by a Turkish partipant:


*The Greek Sintagma Square demonstrations in Athens:


*Nosostros social center in Athens:


*Jerome Roos, a Dutch activist and editor of ROAR Magazine discusses how to change the neoliberal system:


*French activism:


*Egyptian activists:


*Impressions of Finland by a Chinese student:


*A Swedish college student:


*South African teen activist:


*An Ethiopian medical student:


*A Chinese student discusses lack of freedom:


*South Koreans criticize the education system:

Vidoes: Egyptian Women Activists, 2011 Revolution

Reports on women’s revolutionary role in the Middle EastRetrieved from http:

Zainab Salbi, founder of Women for Women International, produced a documentary about women in the Arab Spring.

Reports on women’s revolutionary role in the Middle EastRetrieved from http:

[1] Courtney Raddsch, “Unveiling the Revolutionaries: Cyberactivism and the Role of Women in the Arab Uprisings,” Rice University Institute for Public Policy Research Paper, May 17, 2012.

Retrieved from http:

Shahin Cole and Juan Cole, “An Arab Spring for Women,”, April 26, 2011.’s_movement_in_the_middle_east_/

Young Armenians Oust President in 3 Weeks

In 2018 large demonstrations and strikes featuring young Armenians ousted their president in only three weeks. Young people grew up without communism and learned about democracy on the Internet. These young tech experts used messaging apps to coordinate the demonstrations and blocked traffic by organizing streams of pedestrians at street crossings and pushing trash bins and vehicles on streets. They empty streets were an invitation to do folk dancing. The leader of the protests, Nikol Pashinian, (age 42) became prime minister. He explained about civil disobedience, “I understood the best way to prevent violence is to be nonviolent” and told the police they were friends. He promised to reform the country’s political and economic systems in a “velvet revolution.” Pashinian is hopeful because, “if we were able to do the impossible, that means we will be able to do the difficult.”[i]

[i] Neil MacFarquhar, “He Was a Protester a Month Ago,” New York Times, May 8, 2018.

Chile student feminists occupy college and high school campuses, 2018

In Chile, women students organized a new “Feminism Waves” movement in 2018 to remove sexism and sexual harassment from over 30 universities when their complaints were ignored. Building on the history of student protests to make education affordable, their weapons are taking over 14 college campuses (blocking front gates) and two high schools, weeks of strikes, graffiti (e.g. “Fire to the Patriarchy”), and marches with thousands of face-painted protesters. One group marched topless with maroon balaclavas on their faces. Men are included, but not as spokesmen. Decision-making in the campus occupations is enhanced by online voting and music and theater groups perform for the occupation. The protesters demand mandatory gender-equality training for students and faculty, equal opportunity for women in academia, women’s studies in the curriculum, avoiding sexist language and off-color “jokes,” better procedure for sexual crimes, and make careers less gender-specific. In response, conservative President Sebastian Pinera organized a “Gender Agenda,” which the feminists said was inadequate—so they called for a June 6 march. “ One of the spokeswomen, law student Emilia Scheider said, “We haven’t invented anything, we are a part of history.”[i] Student occupied her campus at the University of Chile’s School of Law for each of her four years as a student.

[i] Caitlin Donohue, “Chilean Feminists Take Over 14 University Campuses,” 48 Hills, May 18, 2018.

Feminist Egyptians: Girls Revolution

Ghadeer Ahmed organized Girls Revolution on Facebook and Twitter on the first anniversary of the revolution as “an icon of rebellion” in order for women to share their experiences of sexism and to be able to discuss prohibited topics such as sexuality, sexual violence, or abortion rights. She feels safe to talk publically about women’s rights because the government “considers women’s rights defendants as having leisure time just talk about women, not a threat to the state.” She grew up in Mahalla in a non-political family of lower-middle class workers who don’t own land. When she was a college student in what she says is a low-quality government school, she was politicized by local demonstrations in her hometown during the January revolution. She took photos and tweeted news of the uprising. She and her two sisters took the train to demonstrate in Tahrir Square, an almost three hour train ride but they were required by their parents to return home the same day. The revolution inspired her to uncover her hair; when her parents pressured her to wear hajib, due to criticism from their acquaintances for not raising her to be a moral woman, she moved to Cairo. She worked for an NGO for women and development and then for Nazra for Feminist Studies (the government closed down its office) and earned a master’s degree in Gender and Women’s Studies. She became so brave she chased after a harasser on the street, yelling and hitting back with her shoes in hand. She’s currently writing a book about women’s abortion tales although it’s illegal. If she put up a paper poster about women’s rights to control their own bodies, she could face great harm. Like other feminists I interviewed, she doesn’t feel hopeful except for the fact that her younger sister is even braver than she is.