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Dr. Jannis Julien Grimm (co-supervision)

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PhD Candidate

Dissertation: "Contesting Legitimacy: Protest and the Politics of Signification in Post-Revolutionary Egypt"

Jannis Julien Grimm is a Doctoral Fellow at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies (BGSMCS), where he works on the dynamics of social protests and state repression in post-revolutionary Egypt, focusing on the development of contentious discourses during processes of social transformation. He has studied Arabic and Islamic Studies, and Political Science in Münster, Berlin, and in Cairo, and has majored in Middle Eastern Studies. Investigating processes of authoritarian contraction through the perspective of politics from below, Jannis has worked on Egypt’s political affairs at Humboldt University’s Mediterranean Institute Berlin (MIB) and the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, SWP Berlin. Since 2013, he co-authors the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s annual country report on Egypt. He tweets @jannisgrimm.

Thesis: Contesting Legitimacy: Protest and the Politics of Signification in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

ABSTRACT

The dissertation examines the issue of mobilisation in the context of authoritarian contraction through the lenses of hegemony theory. It explores the shifting coali-tions of contenders in Egypt since the 2013 military coup and their contending conceptions of political legitimacy. Its conceptual perspective is defined by the realisation that processes of social mobilisation are contingent on the dynamics of interaction between political contenders. This interaction takes place on the streets between demonstrators and police forces, and it takes place on a discursive level where contenders articulate competing narratives about contentious events in an attempt to establish hegemony for their reading of social reality. I argue that the trajectory of mobilisation and opportunities for cross-movement alliance building, as well as the scale of repression wielded by authorities against their contenders heavily depend on the outcome of this latter, discursive struggle. Accordingly, in this dissertation project I investigate the unfolding waves of mobili-sation in post-coup Egypt in a nested research design that combines quantitative protest event analysis with in-depth qualitative analysis of the contested discours-es about events on the ground. By tracking the contentious dynamics in Egypt with the proposed analytical focus from the 2013 Tamarod-uprising, over the Anti-Coup campaign against the deposition of President Mursi, to the restoration of an authoritarian order under the aegis of General Al-Sisi and, finally, to the 2016 Tiran and Sanafir island protests, I highlight the impact of shifts in the discursive architecture of contentious politics on the conditions of possibility and the oppor-tunity structures for both, resistance and repression. The aim of investigating pro-cesses of political contestation both in the discursive and the performative arena is to illustrate how the narratives established around contentious events crucially account for variances in the reaction of movements to regime action, of regimes to mobilisation, and of the broader public to the means by which these principal contenders interact with each other to achieve their goals—for instance, by esca-lating collective action and radicalising repertoires, or by restricting civil liberties and deploying state violence against protesters. Ultimately, this thesis thus attempts to map Egypt’s contentious politics in the first years of Al-Sisi’s reign. By systematically linking the performative and the discursive in an analytical frame-work informed by discourse theory and relational approaches of social movement studies, I propose an integrated approach to the study of contentious politics—one that 30 years after the cultural turn in the study of contention is still lacking.

For a list of publications see: https://bgsmcs.academia.edu/JannisJulienGrimm

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