The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion

The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion

Join us for our fifth Book Talk

Date: Monday, June 5, 2023 at 5:30pm
Location: West Hall Auditorium A, American University of Beirut

The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion (Princeton University Press, 2022)

Authored by Mark Beissinger

Mona Harb, Professor of Politics and Urban Studies at the American University of Beirut and co-Founder and Research Lead at the Beirut Urban Lab
Alexandra Kassir, incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University of Beirut

Moderated by:
Jamil Mouawad, Visiting Assistant Professor of Politics at the American University of Beirut

All are welcome!

This book panel is the fifth in our Book Talks Series featuring roundtable discussions on urban and other issues that are of relevance to the lab's research scope and core values.

This event is open to the public and will be live-streamed on Beirut Urban Lab’s Facebook pageIn-person registration here.

About the Book

Examining the changing character of revolution around the world, The Revolutionary City focuses on the impact that the concentration of people, power, and wealth in cities exercises on revolutionary processes and outcomes. Once predominantly an urban and armed affair, revolutions in the twentieth century migrated to the countryside, as revolutionaries searched for safety from government repression and discovered the peasantry as a revolutionary force. But at the end of the twentieth century, as urban centers grew, revolution returned to the city—accompanied by a new urban civic repertoire espousing the containment of predatory government and relying on visibility and the power of numbers rather than arms.

Using original data on revolutionary episodes since 1900, public opinion surveys, and engaging examples from around the world, Mark Beissinger explores the causes and consequences of the urbanization of revolution in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Beissinger examines the compact nature of urban revolutions, as well as their rampant information problems and heightened uncertainty. He investigates the struggle for control over public space, why revolutionary contention has grown more pacified over time, and how revolutions involving the rapid assembly of hundreds of thousands in central urban spaces lead to diverse, ad hoc coalitions that have difficulty producing substantive change. The Revolutionary City provides a new understanding of how revolutions happen and what they might look like in the future.


Mark R. Beissinger is Henry W. Putnam Professor in the Department of Politics at Princeton University. He previously served on the faculties of University of Wisconsin-Madison and Harvard University. His main fields of interest are social movements, revolutions, nationalism, state-building, and imperialism, with special reference to the former Soviet Union and the post-Soviet states. In addition to numerous articles and book chapters, Beissinger is author or editor of six books: Scientific Management, Socialist Discipline, and Soviet Power (Harvard University Press, 1988); The Nationalities Factor in Soviet Politics and Society (Westview, 1988); Beyond State Crisis? Post-Colonial Africa and Post-Soviet Eurasia Compared (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002); Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State (Cambridge University Press, 2002); Historical Legacies of Communism in Russia and Eastern Europe (Cambridge University Press, 2014); and The Revolutionary City: Urbanization and the Global Transformation of Rebellion (Princeton University Press, 2022). Beissinger's recent writings have dealt with such topics as individual participation in the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and in the Egyptian and Tunisian revolutions in 2011, the impact of new social media on opposition movements in autocratic regimes, the role of human error in revolutions, Russian imperialism in Eurasia, civil society and the resistance to democratic backsliding, the relationship between nationalism and democracy, and the evolving character of revolutionary contention. His book Nationalist Mobilization and the Collapse of the Soviet State received multiple awards, including the Woodrow Wilson Foundation Award presented by the American Political Science Association for the best book published in the United States in the field of government, politics, or international affairs, and the Mattei Dogan Award presented by the Society for Comparative Research for the best book published in the field of comparative research.

Mona Harb is a Professor of Urban Studies and Politics at the American University of Beirut where she is also co-founder and research lead at the Beirut Urban LabHer research investigates urban governance and city-making in contexts of disasters and polycrises, and the role of urban activists in collective action and oppositional politics. She is the author of Le Hezbollah à Beirut: de la banlieue à la ville, co-author of Leisurely Islam: Negotiating Geography and Morality in Shi’i South Beirut (with Lara Deeb), co-editor of Local Governments and Public Goods: Assessing Decentralization in the Arab World (with Sami Atallah), and co-editor of Refugees as City-Makers (with Mona Fawaz et al.), and of more than eighty journal articles, book chapters, and other publications. Harb is the recipient of grants from the IDRC, Fondation de France, Open Society Foundation, Ford Foundation, LSE-Emirates Fund, EU-FP7, Wenner-Gren, ACLS, and the Middle-East Awards. She contributes to the editorial boards of IJMES, Environment and Planning C, CSSAME and IJURR. She is currently the Coordinator of the graduate programs in Urban Planning, Policy and Design, and was previously Chairperson of the department of Architecture and Design, and Associate Dean of her faculty. She provides professional advice on urban development issues for several international organizations (UNDP, WB, ESCWA). 

Alexandra Kassir is an incoming Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University of Beirut. She holds a PhD in sociology from the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris and an MSc in social and cultural psychology from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her main areas of research are social movements and grassroot mobilizations, social inequalities, and migration. She examined the anti-sectarian movement in post-war Lebanon and its reconfigurations, the protests against headscarf ban in France and more recently the trajectories and experiences of young Palestinians and Syrian refugees in Lebanon. In her research, she favors collaborative and creative research methods and has participated in different research-art collaborations.

Jamil Mouawad teaches Politics and Policy at the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut. He is also a Senior Fellow at the Arab Reform Initiative. He holds a PhD in politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Jamil is a founding member of the Beirut School for Critical Security Studies. His research interests in state-society relations span the subfields of comparative politics and political economy. He has several scientific publications and is a regular commentator on Lebanese politics. He is currently finalizing a book entitled The Awaited State: State Formation and Elite Resilience in Lebanon