The Power of Presence: Professional Women Leaders and Family Law Reform in Morocco

Charrad, Mounira M. &  Rita Stephan. 2020.  “The Power of Presence: Professional Women Leaders and Family Law Reform in Morocco.” Social Politics, Volume 27, Issue 2: 337–360, doi.org/10.1093/sp/jxz013. The 2004 reforms of Islamic family law in Morocco brought about a long-awaited expansion of women’s rights. The Moroccan women’s movement was a key player in the promulgation of the reforms. We highlight the role of professional women leaders in the movement and show how they developed political capital and the “power of presence” by combining (i) professional attainment, (ii) leadership in women’s organizations, and (iii) active participation or positions in politics and civil society. We suggest that more needs to be understood about the implications of women’s education and professional attainment for legal change, especially in the Middle East.

Local Solidarities: How the Arab Spring Protests Started

Charrad, Mounira M. & Nicholas Reith. 2019. “Local Solidarities: How the Arab Spring Protests Started.” Mounira M. Charrad & Nicholas Reith. Sociological Forum.34: 1174-1196.  doi:10.1111/socf.12543 Coming as a surprise to most observers and following the self‐immolation of a street vendor in a remote town of central Tunisia, the Jasmine Revolution of 2010–2011, the first uprising of the Arab Spring, has often been seen as a success story for digital communication through widespread use of social media. We suggest that this applied to the later phase of the protests in Tunisia but not to the initial phase, which occurred in local areas in impoverished and marginalized regions with highly limited access to the Internet. The initial phase lasted a full 10 days before the protests reached major cities where social media operated. Building on Tilly’s concept of trust network, we offer the concept of local solidarities as key to the beginning of the Arab Spring uprisings and as encompassing spatial proximity, shared marginalized status, and kinship, all of which combined to serve as a basis for trust and collective action.

Conservative Innovators: How States are Challenging Federal Power

Merriman, Ben. 2019. Conservative : How States are Challenging Federal PowerChicago: University of Chicago Press.

Conservative InnovatorsConservative Innovators describes how conservative state-level officeholders, including governors, attorneys general, and secretaries of state, mounted a major challenge to the Obama Administration and federal power more generally. The opportunity for this challenge to federal power arose from the conjunction of several processes: marked growth in executive power at both the national and state level; shifts in administrative law doctrine friendly to state litigation; and high party polarization that yielded regularly divided national government but single party dominance of state governments. Conservative executive officials cooperated across states in litigation and through various administrative practices; they also adopted a notably uncooperative, conflictual stance in their relations with the Obama Administration. Through chapters examining multistate litigation, new uses of interstate compacts, and new elections administration practices, this book shows that state executive officeholders have used an innovative combination of means to successfully pursue a familiar set of conservative policy goals. A chapter on the small government experiment in Kansas shows that this activity is not a crudely anti-government stance, but rather a particular program of reform grounded in a sophisticated understanding of law and modern administrative institutions. The concluding chapter shows that the domestic agenda of the Trump Administration is substantially a continuation of this earlier state-level activity, and that liberal state officeholders have been quick to emulate new conservative strategies. The likely result is a rearranged, conflictual American federalism in which the states are more important and powerful than they have been since the Progressive Era.

Trade Battles: Activism and the Politicization of International Trade Policy

Kay, Tamara and R.L. Evans. 2019. Trade Battles: Activism and the Politicization of International Trade Policy. New York: Oxford University Press.

Trade BattlesTrade was once an esoteric economic issue with little domestic policy resonance. Activists did not prioritize it, and grassroots political mobilization seemed unlikely to free trade advocates. The passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement in the early 1990s was therefore expected to be a fait accompli. Yet, as Trade Battles shows, activists pushed back: they increased the public consciousness on trade, mobilized new constituencies against it, and demanded that the rules of the global economy protect the collective rights and common good of citizens. Activists also forged a sustained challenge to U.S. trade policies after NAFTA, setting the stage for future trade battles.

Using data from extensive archival materials and over 215 interviews with Mexican, Canadian, and U.S. trade negotiators; labor and environmental activists; and government officials, Tamara Kay and R.L. Evans assess how activists politicized trade policy by leveraging broad divisions across state and non-state arenas. Further, they demonstrate how activists were not only able to politicize trade policy, but also to pressure negotiators to include labor and environmental protections in NAFTA’s side agreements. A timely contribution, Trade Battles seeks to understand the role of civil society in shaping state policy. Order online at www.global.oup.com with promotion code ASFLYQ6 to save 30%

Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers

FitzGerald, David Scott. 2019. Refuge Beyond Reach: How Rich Democracies Repel Asylum Seekers. Oxford University Press.

Refuge Beyond ReachIn Refuge beyond Reach, David Scott FitzGerald traces how rich democracies have deliberately and systematically shut down most legal paths to safety. Drawing on official government documents, information obtained via WikiLeaks, and interviews with asylum seekers, he finds that for ninety-nine percent of refugees, the only way to find safety in one of the prosperous democracies of the Global North is to reach its territory and then ask for asylum. FitzGerald shows how the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia comply with the letter of the law while violating the spirit of those laws through a range of deterrence methods – first designed to keep out Jews fleeing the Nazis – that have now evolved into a pervasive global system of “remote control.” While some of the most draconian remote control practices continue in secret, FitzGerald identifies some pressure points and finds that a diffuse humanitarian obligation to help those in need is more difficult for governments to evade than the law alone.