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FA L L 2014 Asef Bayat Honored With Prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship by Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi, Associate Professor of Sociology Last April, Professor Asef Bayat, won the prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship for his work on urban life and social change in the Middle East. The Guggenheim Fellowship is awarded to scholars who have already contributed significantly to their fields of study and whose work promises to enrich the field in the future. Professor Bayat is one of the most influential sociologists of the Middle East who has made significant theoretical contributions to the fields of social movements, sociology of religion, urban sociology, and development theories. Bayat’s scholarship is both extensive and coherent. His exceptional work shows his fine ability to address the concerns of the area specialists, through rigorous empirical research, and at the same time satisfy disciplinary interests of sociologists, through advancing con-


ceptual propositions that are applicable to a wide range of sociological studies. Although a sociologist by training, Bayat’s work is read and cited widely in other disciplines such as history, political science, and anthropology. Bayat is an internationally recognized scholar of the highest caliber, with teaching and research experience in Iran, Egypt, Turkey, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States. He has authored six books, edited three more volumes, and has published more than forty refereed journal articles and book chapters.

Asef Bayat A number of his works have been translated into Arabic, Turkish and Persian. Most recently, he served as the Academic Director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM), one of the most significant European research centers funded by the Dutch government. One of the central questions of Bayat’s research has been the ways

in which the urban poor negotiate and advance their small demands and local concerns without being motivated by general ideological commitments or an impetus for radical social transformation. A vast informal network of street vendors, slum dwellers, and the urban poor’s “quiet encroachment,” he argues, has transformed the urban spaces in the Middle East and other parts of the developing world. He shows how ordinary people realized their demands through direct action in their own realm. They took over sidewalks and squatted abandoned buildings and expanded the sphere of their public life without overt political strategies or via the mobilization of social networks outside their immediate social life. “Quiet encroachment” is now recognized widely as an important contribution in the understanding of the dynamics of social movements and urban space. Professor Bayat theorizes the actions of the urban poor and informal labor as “social non-movements.” If social movements meant collective action of different groups for the realization of their demands by taking advantage of political opportunities and by mobilizing networks that could sustain these movements, social non-movements, he asserts, appear as an extension of daily life of individuals simultaneously engaged in similar actions. Whereas social movements create a rupture in the everyday life of its participants, non-movements reaffirm and sustain the means of peoples’ livelihood without engaging networks of collective action. Continued on page 2

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