Reclaiming Spaces

Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

A series of unprecedented protests occurred in Kuwait between October and December 2012 in response to the dissolving of the Parliament and the abrupt revision of the electoral law. Thousands of Kuwaitis joined the Karamat Watan (A Nation’s Dignity) campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah. Following his resignation, along with the rest of the parliament and the appointed government (BBC 2011) in November 2011, due to the pressure of public mobilization and the revelation of corruption scandals, parliamentary elections were held in February 2012, marking the rise of an opposition majority. However, the parliament was dissolved a few months later and an emergency decree was issued in October.
On October 21 2012, over 50,000 people marched on the panoramic coastal Gulf Road for the first Karamat Watan demonstration. The following day, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban on any unlicensed public gatherings of more than twenty people. A demonstration followed on November 4, still without a permit. For the third protest, held on November 16, activists obtained a license. These protests sparked a widespread boycott of the December 2012 elections, effectively reducing voters’ turnout (Black 2012) and significantly affecting the composition of the new parliament (Smith Diwan 2012).
The present paper investigates the motivation of Karamat Watan women activists in two different arenas in which women protested: the physical space in the streets and cyberspace.
By means of inter-generational support, social media mobilization and breaking pre-existing taboos on activism, while simultaneously drawing on previous political campaigns, women were able to voice their dissent and articulate their political agenda. In doing so, they reached beyond “the stereotype of the silent, passive, subordinate, victimized, and powerless Muslim woman” (Charrad 2011, 418). These women’s mobilization created in them a “new civic sense” (Kandiyoti 2011) that enabled them to counter their vicarious citizenship (lived by proxy) in their patriarchal society (Human Rights Watch 2015).
Findings are based on interviews with women activists that were conducted in Kuwait between September 2012 and May 2013, and between January and May 2015, as well as online data sources. In order to protect their anonymity, real names were changed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWomen Rising
Subtitle of host publicationResistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond
EditorsMounira Charrad, Rita Stephan
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherNew York University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2020

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protest
parliament
mobilization
resignation
Kuwait
emergency decree
campaign
electoral law
boycott
BBC
parliamentary election
anonymity
political agenda
scandal
ban
social media
virtual reality
license
corruption
minister

Cite this

Buscemi, E. (Accepted/In press). Reclaiming Spaces: Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests. In M. Charrad, & R. Stephan (Eds.), Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond New York: New York University Press.
Buscemi, Emanuela. / Reclaiming Spaces : Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests. Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond. editor / Mounira Charrad ; Rita Stephan. New York : New York University Press, 2020.
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title = "Reclaiming Spaces: Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests",
abstract = "A series of unprecedented protests occurred in Kuwait between October and December 2012 in response to the dissolving of the Parliament and the abrupt revision of the electoral law. Thousands of Kuwaitis joined the Karamat Watan (A Nation’s Dignity) campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah. Following his resignation, along with the rest of the parliament and the appointed government (BBC 2011) in November 2011, due to the pressure of public mobilization and the revelation of corruption scandals, parliamentary elections were held in February 2012, marking the rise of an opposition majority. However, the parliament was dissolved a few months later and an emergency decree was issued in October. On October 21 2012, over 50,000 people marched on the panoramic coastal Gulf Road for the first Karamat Watan demonstration. The following day, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban on any unlicensed public gatherings of more than twenty people. A demonstration followed on November 4, still without a permit. For the third protest, held on November 16, activists obtained a license. These protests sparked a widespread boycott of the December 2012 elections, effectively reducing voters’ turnout (Black 2012) and significantly affecting the composition of the new parliament (Smith Diwan 2012). The present paper investigates the motivation of Karamat Watan women activists in two different arenas in which women protested: the physical space in the streets and cyberspace. By means of inter-generational support, social media mobilization and breaking pre-existing taboos on activism, while simultaneously drawing on previous political campaigns, women were able to voice their dissent and articulate their political agenda. In doing so, they reached beyond “the stereotype of the silent, passive, subordinate, victimized, and powerless Muslim woman” (Charrad 2011, 418). These women’s mobilization created in them a “new civic sense” (Kandiyoti 2011) that enabled them to counter their vicarious citizenship (lived by proxy) in their patriarchal society (Human Rights Watch 2015). Findings are based on interviews with women activists that were conducted in Kuwait between September 2012 and May 2013, and between January and May 2015, as well as online data sources. In order to protect their anonymity, real names were changed.",
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Buscemi, E 2020, Reclaiming Spaces: Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests. in M Charrad & R Stephan (eds), Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond. New York University Press, New York.

Reclaiming Spaces : Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests. / Buscemi, Emanuela.

Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond. ed. / Mounira Charrad; Rita Stephan. New York : New York University Press, 2020.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

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N2 - A series of unprecedented protests occurred in Kuwait between October and December 2012 in response to the dissolving of the Parliament and the abrupt revision of the electoral law. Thousands of Kuwaitis joined the Karamat Watan (A Nation’s Dignity) campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah. Following his resignation, along with the rest of the parliament and the appointed government (BBC 2011) in November 2011, due to the pressure of public mobilization and the revelation of corruption scandals, parliamentary elections were held in February 2012, marking the rise of an opposition majority. However, the parliament was dissolved a few months later and an emergency decree was issued in October. On October 21 2012, over 50,000 people marched on the panoramic coastal Gulf Road for the first Karamat Watan demonstration. The following day, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban on any unlicensed public gatherings of more than twenty people. A demonstration followed on November 4, still without a permit. For the third protest, held on November 16, activists obtained a license. These protests sparked a widespread boycott of the December 2012 elections, effectively reducing voters’ turnout (Black 2012) and significantly affecting the composition of the new parliament (Smith Diwan 2012). The present paper investigates the motivation of Karamat Watan women activists in two different arenas in which women protested: the physical space in the streets and cyberspace. By means of inter-generational support, social media mobilization and breaking pre-existing taboos on activism, while simultaneously drawing on previous political campaigns, women were able to voice their dissent and articulate their political agenda. In doing so, they reached beyond “the stereotype of the silent, passive, subordinate, victimized, and powerless Muslim woman” (Charrad 2011, 418). These women’s mobilization created in them a “new civic sense” (Kandiyoti 2011) that enabled them to counter their vicarious citizenship (lived by proxy) in their patriarchal society (Human Rights Watch 2015). Findings are based on interviews with women activists that were conducted in Kuwait between September 2012 and May 2013, and between January and May 2015, as well as online data sources. In order to protect their anonymity, real names were changed.

AB - A series of unprecedented protests occurred in Kuwait between October and December 2012 in response to the dissolving of the Parliament and the abrupt revision of the electoral law. Thousands of Kuwaitis joined the Karamat Watan (A Nation’s Dignity) campaign demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Sheikh Nasser Al-Sabah. Following his resignation, along with the rest of the parliament and the appointed government (BBC 2011) in November 2011, due to the pressure of public mobilization and the revelation of corruption scandals, parliamentary elections were held in February 2012, marking the rise of an opposition majority. However, the parliament was dissolved a few months later and an emergency decree was issued in October. On October 21 2012, over 50,000 people marched on the panoramic coastal Gulf Road for the first Karamat Watan demonstration. The following day, the Ministry of Interior issued a ban on any unlicensed public gatherings of more than twenty people. A demonstration followed on November 4, still without a permit. For the third protest, held on November 16, activists obtained a license. These protests sparked a widespread boycott of the December 2012 elections, effectively reducing voters’ turnout (Black 2012) and significantly affecting the composition of the new parliament (Smith Diwan 2012). The present paper investigates the motivation of Karamat Watan women activists in two different arenas in which women protested: the physical space in the streets and cyberspace. By means of inter-generational support, social media mobilization and breaking pre-existing taboos on activism, while simultaneously drawing on previous political campaigns, women were able to voice their dissent and articulate their political agenda. In doing so, they reached beyond “the stereotype of the silent, passive, subordinate, victimized, and powerless Muslim woman” (Charrad 2011, 418). These women’s mobilization created in them a “new civic sense” (Kandiyoti 2011) that enabled them to counter their vicarious citizenship (lived by proxy) in their patriarchal society (Human Rights Watch 2015). Findings are based on interviews with women activists that were conducted in Kuwait between September 2012 and May 2013, and between January and May 2015, as well as online data sources. In order to protect their anonymity, real names were changed.

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Buscemi E. Reclaiming Spaces: Kuwaiti Women in the Karamat Watan Protests. In Charrad M, Stephan R, editors, Women Rising: Resistance, Revolution, and Reform in the Arab Spring and Beyond. New York: New York University Press. 2020