The recent wave of revolutions across the Arab world has brought to the surface the contradictions in popular understandings of the Middle East and North Africa. The place of the region in the global history of modernity has been unsettled yet again. It is possible to identify several major trends in responses to the momentous events, coinciding with various stages in the unfolding of the revolutions. Firstly, many commentators embraced the early stages of the uprisings, precisely because they were seen to fulfil a long-overdue historical destiny of democratic flourishing – the expression of a modern teleology for some, or a postmodern emancipation for others.
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