‘After the flood: Deleuze and the Arab Spring’

Fourth International Deleuze Studies Conference – Creation, Crisis, Critique (2011).
Panel presentation.
Copenhagen Business School; The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Architecture; The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts School of Visual Arts: Copenhagen, Denmark, 27-29 June 2011.

Events taking place in the Arab world are spontaneous yet sustained moments of revolution. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Bahrain, etc., localised singularities flowing across Northern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. These becomings seem political manifestations of Deleuze and Guattari’s concept of the rhizome. Initiated without heavyweight political figureheads or leaders and dispersed online and on the street, youth movements, women’s groups, and religious sects are coming together to confront police, army, regime supporters and mercenaries, all the resources of state control at the disposal of decades old arborescent structures of authoritarian dictatorship.

Yet we see aspects of the situation that trouble such a simple dichotomy of good versus evil embodied as rhizome versus arborescence: in Egypt, the army moving to support the protesters; in Libya, the call of the protesters for NATO intervention. ‘There are knots of arborescence on rhizomes… rhizomatic offshoots in roots’ (A Thousand Plateaus: 22). This paper will encounter some moments of the interweaving of rhizomatics and arborescence during the Arab Spring in the context of Deleuze and politics. And, after the flood of rhizomatic revolution, explore the need for arborescent structures that seem necessary to rebuild communities, infrastructure, and nation states.

Conference website | No transcript available as yet