Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies

Jannis Grimm



Mobilization and its Interpretation: Contested Discourses on Contentious Politics in Post-Revolutionary Egypt


Mobilization and its Interpretation: Contested Discourses on Contentious Politics in Post-Revolutionary Egypt

Starting from the puzzle of resilient protesters in the context of a reemergent securocratic state in Egypt, this project examines the issue of mobilization under authoritarian contraction. Its conceptual perspective is defined by the realization that processes of social mobilization are contingent on situational interaction between political contenders. This interaction takes place on the streets, where police forces shoot tear gas and demonstrators block road, and it takes place on a discursive level, where contenders articulate competing narratives about contentious events. I argue that the mobilizing success of movements as well as the creation of opportunities for collective action depends heavily on this discursive representation.

Accordingly, this project attempts to trace the unfolding waves of mobilization in post-revolutionary Egypt in their performative and in their discursive dimension: The aim is to identify the competing and discourses and meaning ascriptions that emerged and became sedimented after the fall of Husni Mubarak. It employs a nested research design which combines a quantitative tracing of contentious dynamics during through protest event data with qualitative analysis of the contested discourses on these dynamics. Ultimately, this dissertation can thus be considered an attempt of mapping both the performative and the discursive arena of Egypt’s post-revolutionary contentious politics.

From the popular protests against the President Mursi in 2013, over the Islamist ‘Anticoup’ movement and the 2016 ‘island-protests’, to the labor protests which have recently reemerged across the country, I explore how discourses have been challenged, incorporated, modified and appropriated by different actors in a struggle for discoursive hegemony. By closely tracing the Egyptian protest dynamics with the proposed analytical focus, I hope to shed light on the impact of these shifts in the discursive architecture of contentious politics on the opportunities for both, contentious claim-making, and state repression.


Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders

Second Supervisors: Prof. Dr. Donatella della Porta, Prof. Dr. Carola Richter

Selected publications:

  • Grimm, Jannis and Ilyas Saliba. 2017 (under review). "Free Research in Fearful Times: Conceptualizing a Global Index to Monitor Academic Freedom", IdPS-Interdisciplinary Political Studies.
  • Grimm, Jannis and Cilja Harders. 2017 (forthcoming). "Unpacking the Effects of Repression: the Evolution of Islamist Repertoires of Contention in Egypt after the Fall of President Morsi", Social Movement Studies.
  • Grimm, Jannis and Stephan Roll. 2017 (forthcoming). "Zwischen Kooptation und Marginalisierung: Ägyptens Parteiensystem im Wandel." In: Sigrid Faath (eds.) Politische Parteien in Nordafrika: Effektive Gestalter der Politik?. Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
  • Grimm, Jannis. 2017. "Convergent Authoritarianisms in Egypt and Turkey." In: Sada. Washington, DC: Carnegie endowment for International Peace (
  • Ander, Felix, Jannis Grimm, Jan-Philip Vatthauer (eds.). 2016. Some Vantage Points for Rethinking Movements and Institutions, in: Bretterblog (08/2016) (
  • Grimm, Jannis and Stephan Roll. 2016. "In der Sackgasse: Ägyptens Menschenrechtsorganisationen im Visier des Sicherheitsstaates." In Wegbereiter für Demokratie in Nordafrika, eds. Sigrid Faath. Berlin: Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
  • Grimm, Jannis. 2015. Repressing Egypt’s Civil Society. State Violence, Restriction of the Public Sphere, and Extrajudicial Persecution, Berlin: Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik (SWP Comments 2015/C 41), 8 S.,
  • Grimm, Jannis. 2015. "Menschenrechte in Nordafrika: Ernüchterung macht sich breit", Politische Ökologie, 2 (141): 58-64.
  • Grimm, Jannis. 2015. "Eine Schwalbe macht noch keinen Frühling: Die arabischen Umbrüche in der politikwissenschaftlichen Literatur", Zeitschrift für Vergleichende Politikwissenschaft, 9 (1-2): 97-118.


For a more comprehensive list of publications, please visit: