Reviewing and the politics of voice: Peoples in the Arab world "name" their struggles "revolutions" and not the "arab Spring"

Ashraf Abdelhay, Cristine Severo, Sinfree Makoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Reviewing is an act of power and not a mere act of applying shared academic standards of rigor. As such, it is inevitably implicated in the cultural politics of "naming". In this paper we animate this taken-for-granted statement in the context of naming the sociopolitical struggles against dictatorial regimes in the Arab world. Since the end of 2010, the Arab world has witnessed a relatively organized series of protests and the peoples have named them "revolutions". Western cultural political discourse has renamed these (trans)locally constituted struggles the "Arab Spring". If we take sociolinguistics seriously as the "study of language in use", we should consider the peoples in the Arab world as "subjects"of their own definitions, rather than as "objects"of Western constructions. We contend that reviewers, as gatekeepers, are implicated in the politics of voice when they uncritically accept the use of Western inventions as the "only"appropriate way of naming the world, and in so doing they effectively subvert the revolutionary interests in the Arab world.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9-20
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of the Sociology of Language
Issue number267-268
StatePublished - Mar 1 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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