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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 28 March 2013
The Arab uprisings, like the fall of the Berlin Wall more than two decades ago, are watershed events that have raised fundamental questions about our understanding of the processes of political change, the emergence and diffusion of contentious collective action, and the role of the international context in facilitating or hindering political change. The uprisings have further strengthened a growing focus within Middle Eastern studies on framing questions about the social, economic, and political dynamics in the region in ways that allow for more robust linkages with comparative theorizing about the dynamics of contentious collective action and the processes of political change. In other words, the Arab uprisings have injected new energy into the comparative study of contentious politics. In addition to new research agendas the uprisings have also provided opportunities for introducing students in survey and theory courses to the region's political dynamics, enriching students' engagement with theoretical concepts and honing their critical thinking and analytical skills while making the Middle East less “exceptional” for the students. Here, I focus on how incorporating of Middle Eastern cases allows instructors to raise questions and engage students in discussions about the emergence and diffusion of contentious collective action.
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