Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies
Online ISSN : 2433-1872
Print ISSN : 0913-7858
Interpreting Arab Democratic Learning & Unlearning ([Special Feature] Political Change and Migration from the Middle East)
From Bloom to Heidegger and Beyond
Author information

2020 Volume 36 Issue 1 Pages 67-99


The article departs from a key assumption: rejection of master discourses, which seek to standardize, and universalize, democratization experiences into “one-size-fits-all” theorizing. By refocusing discussion on democratic knowledge, it revisits Bloom’s taxonomy and blends it with Heidegger’s conceptions of learning and unlearning, relating it to his notion of Dasaein or “Being.” The gist of the exercise is to create a quasi-conceptual framework [a kind of democratic learning loop] speaking to rich and diverse specificities. The framework uses five underlying constructs, cognitive/meta-cognitive, affective, value-ative, constructive and reflective, for interpreting democratic learning and unlearning. Accordingly, the article departs from a normative standpoint. It seeks to capture the democratic moment, in the context of the Arab Spring. Democracy is a moral project and involves a great deal of normative substance that angles at the acts of “what should be” in politics. In so doing, the article speaks to the ideal of democratization, with stress on its didactic content and value. A key concept forms a focal point in the analysis: democratic learning and unlearning. It merits scholarly attention for its normative potentiality not only on ontological and epistemological grounds of how to do democratization, but also for its stress on the didactic, in the quest for democratic identities and futures, in the Arab world. This approach adds nuance to the study of democratization, in general. In attempting to normativize learning and unlearning as inherent to democratic knowledge and acquisition, three lines of investigation frame the analytical agenda: i] considering knowledge-making and revisiting issues of Orientalism; ii] outlining and contextualizing democratic learning; and iii] framing a democratic learning loop.

Content from these authors
© 2020 Japan Association for Middle East Studies (JAMES)
Previous article Next article