The Critical Stage

The Critical Stage. Young Voices on Crucial Topics

Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha/Janina Hecht (eds.) 

Ever since the outbreak of the revolutionary movements that in Europe have come to be known as the “Arab Spring”, diverse forms of protest seem to be on the increase worldwide. At their core, these protests are driven by citizens’ calls for more social participation, more democracy, and – above all – more transparency in individual states. Young people in particular are at the forefront of these protests, as has been exemplified by the Occupy movements in New York, Frankfurt, and elsewhere. A further defining feature is that most of the protesters belong to a well-educated middle class – a middle class that refuses to accept the prevailing social imbalances and the resulting lack of opportunities, most notably with regard to employment.

The international series “The Critical Stage. Young Voices on Crucial Topics” deals with these developments and poses questions such as: Can this growing level of resistance be defined as a homogeneous global phenomenon? Or are these protest movements more regional in nature, and determined by the respective state systems within which they are located? What specific demands can be identified, and how could these demands be incorporated into political decision-making processes? Does the underlying reasoning extend beyond the political sphere to other areas as well?

Designed as an ongoing online publication, “The Critical Stage” aims to bring together the various standpoints of protest movements from around the world. The series gives a voice to representatives from a wide variety of individual movements. Young journalists, film directors, artists, researchers, and members of diverse protest groups share their views on the inequities in many of the world’s political systems, and on the various modes of resistance that are being formed in response to these conditions.

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No. 8: Kareem James Abu-Zeid (USA/Egypt)

A Nation of Contradictions: A Global Citizen’s Reflections on Trumpism and its Aftershocks in the US

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Following the four turbulent years of the Trump presidency, the time is ripe for reassessment of the political situation of the world’s most powerful democracy. The writer and scholar Kareem James Abu-Zeid provides a brief overview of political life in the US in 2021, highlighting major tensions, paradoxes, and developments, and speculating on what might lie ahead, in the light of Trumpism and its ongoing aftershocks. More specifically, he examines Trump’s ability to manipulate the public’s perception of reality, particularly with regard to independent journalism, the 2020 US presidential elections, and even the COVID-19 pandemic. He also looks at the issue of Trumpism and evangelical Christianity, as well as some unintended but potentially positive side effects of Trump’s presidency.


No. 7: Ghiath Al Jebawi (Syria/Germany)

Urban Narration from Arab to European Refuge Cities

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Crisis situations are currently causing millions of people from Africa, the Middle East, and South Asia to leave their countries. Their paths often lead through refugee camps, in which masses of new arrivals are accommodated. The Syrian architect Ghiath Al Jebawi draws attention to the structures of various refugee cities and camps and reflects on their architectonics as social and urban fabric. He thereby provides rare glimpses into the difficult living conditions in refugee camps, allowing the relationship between one’s residential situation and one’s outlook on life to be grasped in a direct and tangible manner. Moreover, his structural analysis of refugee accommodations opens up new dimensions of a political and social concept of architecture.


No. 6: Amir Heinitz and Marian Reda (Egypt/Germany/Israel)

On the Egyptian Revolution: E-Mail Discussions by Two Former Cairo Flatmates

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Only a few weeks after the outbreak of the Egyptian Revolution in January 2011, Amir Heinitz, a German historian and political scientist with an Israeli background, and Marian Reda, an Egyptian doctor, became flatmates in Cairo, not far from Tahrir Square. Ever since Heinitz left Egypt in the summer of 2011, his and Reda’s friendship has continued via e-mail. Heinitz and Reda decided to make excerpts of their e-mail correspondence available as a contribution to The Critical Stage. These e-mails cover the time span from 2011 to 2013 and are a personal, at times very emotional account of the impact the revolution has had on both of the authors’ lives. At the same time, the protagonists are dealing with everyday issues and – like many of their generation – are looking for meaningful perspectives in their lives.


Mohamed Nabil No. 5: Mohamed Nabil (Morocco)

Das Mouvement du 20 février und die Frauen. Ein Rückblick auf die Proteste in Marokko

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Fünf Jahre nach dem Beginn der Proteste in Marokko im Frühjahr 2011 reflektiert und kontextualisiert Mohamed Nabil noch einmal die Ergebnisse der Bewegung, die bald unter dem Namen Mouvement du 20 février Bekanntheit erlangte. Mit besonderem Fokus auf die Perspektive und die Teilhabe der Frauen in dieser Bewegung zeichnet der Filmemacher ihren Verlauf nach und stellt auch die Frage, wie weit ihre Spuren heute noch in die politischen Ereignisse Marokkos hineinreichen. Persönlich geführte Interviews mit zwei jungen Aktivistinnen bilden seinen Ausgangspunkt. Kann mit einem Blick in die Geschichte Marokkos die Bewegung tatsächlich als gescheitert gelten?


Francesca Caferri No. 4: Francesca Caferri (Italy)

The Arab Spring as a Women’s Revolution

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There is a women’s revolution going on within the Arab Spring – a revolution that has many faces and consists in daily battles for equality across the Muslim world. Francesca Caferri has met many powerful representatives of this movement during her journalistic travels throughout the broader Middle East. She traces a movement that follows its own rules and traditions and that is driven by committed female figures whose lives have little in common with Western perceptions of oppressed Muslim women.


Alvaro Rodriguez Resino No. 3: Álvaro Rodríguez Resino (Spain)

15-M: From Indignation to Citizens’ Action – A New Agent for Social Change

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The sudden appearance and rapid growth of the 15-M movement, which started on Facebook and led to mass demonstrations and encampments across Spain, took many by surprise. The protest movement emerged in reaction to the political, economic, and social hegemony of financial capital, and aimed to bring the political debate back to the citizens and to establish a new form of direct democracy. Álvaro Rodriguez Resino identifies a series of key factors that triggered or influenced 15-M, and examines some of the ideas behind the movement, whose slogan reads: “We are not goods in the hands of politicians or bankers”.


Ophelie Latil No. 2: Ophélie Latil (France)

Génération Précaire – A Burdened Generation Calling for Collective Responsibility

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The daily reality of today’s young working generation is characterised by precarious conditions: unemployment, unpaid internships, short-term contracts, and a considerable amount of inherited debt in an ageing society struggling with economic crisis. The roots of these issues lie in the actions and policies of earlier generations, yet the consequences are hitting today’s Generation Y particularly hard. As a representative of the French Génération Précaire movement, Ophélie Latil warns that the current social imbalances are bound to affect society as a whole, and should thus be dealt with jointly, by all generations.



Wolfgang Gruendinger No. 1: Wolfgang Gründinger (Germany)

Bessere Aussichten? Ein Lagebericht aus den Reihen der jungen Generation

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Bedenkliche berufliche Aussichten, die Unhaltbarkeit gewohnten Wohlstands und das zweifelhafte Identifikationspotenzial politischer Entscheidungsträger – Wolfgang Gründinger charakterisiert die Lebenswelt seiner Generation. Zweifellos sind die allerorts in Gang gekommenen gesellschaftlichen Umbrüche als Gestaltungsraum zu begreifen. Jedoch erscheinen unserem Autor die immer wieder als Referenz ins Feld geführten Protestgewohnheiten der deutschen 68er-Bewegung als fragwürdige Messlatte.




The Critical Stage. Young Voices on Crucial Topics
Caroline Y. Robertson-von Trotha, Janina Hecht (eds.)
ISSN 2198-6738


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