Maha Tazi


According to Huntington’s (1991) theory of “reverse democracy”, countries undergoing (or having undergone) a transition to democracy during a wave are always subject to democratic backsliding in the subsequent wave. During the third wave democratization, the fall of the Soviet Union and other despotic regimes in Latin America led to the gradual “autocratization” of many of these countries in the late 1990s and early 2000s. More recently, in 2011, the collapse of several authoritarian regimes in the Middle East and North African (MENA) region underscored important aspects of democratization, a process in which both women and new media technologies played a key role. However, the direct aftermath of the Arab Spring also revealed a significant democratic backsliding with the outbreak of civil and tribal wars in the region, the rise of political Islam to power, and the resulting backlash against women’s socio-political and legal rights. Drawing on Huntington’s theory of “reverse democracy”, I question whether, and to what extent, the Arab Spring could constitute a case of “fourth wave democracy”—especially considering that this most recent wave has been little, if not at all, explored and analysed. To do so, I adopt a feminist perspective that foregrounds the role of gender as the primary focus of my analysis to examine how the Arab Spring exemplified aspects of a “reverse democracy”, namely in terms of its impact on women’s rights and their resulting social status in the aftermath of the uprisings. I take three countries as case studies: Egypt, Tunisia, and Morocco.

Author Biography

Maha Tazi is a Ph.D. candidate in the Communication Studies Program at Concordia University. Her work focuses on women’s creative disobedience and art activism in post Arab Spring North Africa. Maha is currently working on an audiovisual production called "103-13" to raise awareness on the extent and effects of gender-based violence in Morocco and the existence of laws that criminalize such forms of abuse. Maha taught a Critical Race Feminisms course at the Simone de Beauvoir Institute at Concordia and a Media Criticism course in the Communication department.