Resistance and Repression in the Gulf
The 2011 uprisings that started in Tunisia and swept across the region have been extensively covered, but until now the Gulf island of Bahrain has almost been forgotten from the narration of events that have dramatically changed the region. Bahrain’s Uprising examines the ongoing protests and the state’s repression, revealing a sophisticated society shaped by its political struggle against a reactionary ruling elite that see’s the island as the bounty of conquest. The regime survived largely through foreign political and economic patronage, notably from Britain, America, and Saudi Arabia – a patronage so deep, that the island became the first immediate target of the regional counter-revolutionary mobilisation that continues today.
The book explores the contentious politics of Bahrain, and charts the way in which a dynamic culture of street protest, a strong moral belief in legitimate democratic demands and creative forms of resistance continue to hamper the efforts of the ruling elite to rebrand itself as a liberal, modernising monarchy. Drawing on powerful testimonies, interviews and conversations from those involved, this broad collection of writings provides a rarely heard voice for the lived experiences of Bahrainis and young scholars studying them. From the trial speech by one of the most prominent political leaders of the uprising, to the evocative prose of an imprisoned poet, the book harnesses the power of storytelling, to lead into scholarly articles that address the themes of space, social movements, postcolonialism, social media, and the role of foreign patrons. Published on the eve of the 2016 bicentenary of British-Bahrain relations, the book in particular focuses on the role of the British government, together showing the depth of historical grievance beyond the sectarian narrative that has come to define the limited reporting of events in the country.
Bahrain’s Uprising provides a powerful insight into the Arab Spring’s forgotten front, and will be of lasting value not only to policy makers, journalists, scholars and students of the Middle East, but also activists seeking to learn from, and build upon, Bahraini history and the uprising’s legacy.