[This is part of a series by the Middle East Studies Pedagogy Initiative (MESPI) that presents selections of articles concerning the Middle East, Arab World, and current topics of interest. These articles were published in peer-reviewed academic journals of various disciplines. This series uses MESPI’s Peer-Reviewed Articles database to analyze and provide insight into trends in academia. 

This is the first of three bouquets of articles on various aspects of the Arab uprisings in academic journal articles published during 2010–2020 in Middle East studies and related fields. In this installment, we highlight those directly related to cultural production in the context of the Arab uprisings, and also include a subsection relating to cultural production prior to, and, following the Arab uprisings.]

Singing a New Future: Egypt’s Choir Project

By: Caroline Seymour-jorn

Published in Middle East Critique  Volume 29, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: This paper explores the creative production of Egypt’s Choir project, a collaborative musical and theatrical group that has provided a context for youth creative, social and political expression since 2010. Drawing upon Richard Bauman’s (1984) multifaceted framework for thinking about emerging art forms, I detail the history and socio-political context of the Choir project’s activities during the period from 2011 until 2018, and engage in close literary analysis of some of its lyrical productions. Since the Choir has emerged and developed in a charged political environment, I take into account the important ways in which it has provided a context for political expression. However, I argue that detailed literary and social analysis of its creative process and production suggests that while the Project can be considered a mode of social and political expression or even resistance, it is also a profoundly creative phenomenon that produces lyrical and dramatic creations, which must be considered in their own right and which also must be understood as powerful modes of personal and even existential expression. I suggest that paying close attention to aesthetic experimentation and style adds an important dimension to our understanding of emerging art forms and the complex set of ideas that they express. Close analysis of the nature of innovative creativity also may help to explain why these forms have been so popular among audiences and the general public, even in the midst of political chaos and uncertainty about the future.

Feeling so Hood. Rap, lifestyles and the neighbourhood imaginary in Tunisia

By: Stefano Barone

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The article examines the role of rap in reimagining the social structure in Tunisia after its 2010/2011 revolution. Before the revolution, the Ben Ali regime imposed a narrative of Tunisian society as mainly middle class; beneath this narrative, the Tunisian folklore hosted multiple markers of social distinction that classified people through their perceived lifestyles: residence, language habits, consumption patterns, religious attitudes. Disadvantaged neighbourhoods were obliterated by the official narrative and condemned to social spite by the unofficial ones. After the revolution, the success of rap came to ‘represent’ those quarters and the youth that inhabited them: rappers sang the hoods by criticizing their hard conditions and, at the same time, glorifying the hoods themselves. The vagueness of the social narratives in the country allowed rap musicians to manipulate both the image of the poor neighbourhoods and the idioms of social difference circulating in Tunisia: through this manipulation, they provided a new dignity to the most marginalized sectors of Tunisian society. At the same time, by representing the hoods, rappers could claim social capital and credibility as the ‘true’ narrators of the new Tunisia. But the reimagination of social narratives was not enough to improve the life conditions of dispossessed youth.

Songs from Egyptian Slums to Media

By: Dina Farouk Abou Zeid

Published in Global Media Journal  Volume 17, Issue 32 (2019)

Abstract: Mahraganat is a new genre of songs in Egypt with Arabic and Western music besides strange lyrics. This genre is influencing and being influenced by cultural, social, economic, political and technological changes especially after 2011 revolution. It has started in slums in Cairo and has gone viral among Egyptians especially the youth even between high and middle social classes. Mahraganat is considered a new phenomenon that needs to be studied and understood. The research study applied Bordieu’s cultural capital theory and Peterson’s cultural omnivore theory to explain the popularity of Mahraganat songs. The researcher conducted a survey of 100 Egyptian university students from rich districts in Cairo. The results show that Mahraganat is an example of the shift from univore taste to omnivore taste among youth from high social classes. Also, mass media and new media have been playing an important role in its widespread and popularity.

Narratives and the romantic genre in IR: dominant and marginalized stories of Arab Rebellion in Libya

By: Alexander Spencer

Published in International Politics Volume 56, Issue 1 (2019)

Abstract: The article shows how the rebellion against Gaddafi in Libya in 2011 was romanticized in the British newspaper media and among the political elite. Combining insights from literary studies and employing a method of narrative analysis which focuses on the elements of setting, characterization and emplotment, it illustrates the process of narrative romanticization by emphasizing story elements which constitute the rebellion in an emotional setting in which the rebel is characterized as a young and brave underdog fighting against a brutal and oppressive regime for an ideal such as democracy, freedom and a better future. While romantic narratives were dominant in the discourse on Libya at the time, other less positive narratives which for example emphasize human right violations by rebels were marginalized through a strategy of silencing, denial, ridicule and justification. While the dominance of romantic narratives of rebellion aided the legitimation of British military intervention, the marginalization of negative counter-narratives contributed to the ignorance of extremism and set a bad precedent for the role of human rights in post-conflict Libya.

Egyptian Youth’s Digital Dissent 

By: Adel Iskandar

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 30, Issue 3 (2019)

Abstract: Young people were at the forefront of the millions-strong 2011 uprising against the corrupt and authoritarian rule of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. Eight years since this uprising, many of these young people find themselves besieged, disengaged, and disgruntled amid a resurgence of militarized authoritarianism. This article examines the state of Egypt’s youth and argues that through the dynamics of dissociation, disenchantment, and desecration, these youth are creatively confronting and deflating the state’s propaganda using digital artistic productions such as suggestive caricatures, sarcastic memes, and video pranks. Although such expressions are often seen as lacking political resonance or outcomes, they take on a particular import against the backdrop of a stark and resilient youth boycott of invitations to state-sponsored electoral and political participation. Given that many scholars were blindsided by the rapid and sustained revolutionary mobilizations of 2010 and 2011, it would be wise not to overlook the effects of low-grade humorous online dissent on the long-term development of political culture, and particularly a burgeoning grassroots culture of democracy, in Egypt and other countries affected by the Arab Spring.

The 2011 Egyptian revolution chants: a romantic-Muʿtazilī moral order

By: Hiba Ghanem

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 45, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: While most literature on the 2011 Egyptian Revolution chants highlights the revolutionary role of poetry, little attention has been paid to the role that theology plays within this domain. This article argues that reading Abu al-Qassim al-Shabbi’s poem, ‘Life’s Will’ (1933), which inspired the chant for the fall of the regime, through the lens of Charles Taylor’s A Secular Age (2007) sheds light on the political relevance of the theological theme within this poem. The essay re-reads al-Shabbi’s investment in the Islamic muʿtāzilī doctrine of free will in terms of the creative role that Taylor gives to romantic poetry in creating a community’s ‘moral order’. Such an analysis brings to light the contribution that a comparative theological-literary framework can have to the political deliberation on the Arab Spring revolutions, especially the 2011 Egyptian Revolution.

Art in the Egyptian Revolution: Liberation and Creativity  

By: Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso

Published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East Volume 38, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Bseiso’s article examines how art production was understood during a particular moment in Egypt’s political and cultural history. It examines the ways understandings of art were liberated from the former (and predominant) understanding of art as an elitist, private endeavor located in private/socially restrictive spaces to one of an open, accessible, spontaneous, and at times communal art whose natural location became the street. This liberated understanding of an art that could be created by anyone, anytime, and anywhere emphasized the importance of accessibility and art’s connection to its social and political context, as well as to the community at large. Through a localized, contextualized study that puts at the forefront conversations and interviews with cultural producers and artists in Cairo, it argues that understandings of revolutionary art during the Egyptian revolution (from its beginning in January 2011 to arguably its end in the aftermath of the events in Rab’a in August 2013) came in the creation—the doing—of art rather than the actual artwork itself.

‘Let them entertain themselves’: the fall of the Mubarak regime seen through Egyptian political cartoons

By: Rania Saleh

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 54, Issue 3 (2018)

Abstract: This article examines the issues underlying the downfall of the Mubarak regime from the perspective of Egyptian cartoonists. A total of 2734 political cartoons published in five leading newspapers between January 2010 and February 2011 are analyzed. Because they form a significant part of the cultural context within which these cartoons are created, popular political jokes are also referenced. The study identifies political stagnation, domestic issues and corruption as the three most significant issues that paved the road to the fall of Mubarak.

Song and rebellion in the Syrian uprising

By: Joel D. Parker

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 54, Issue 6 (2018)

Abstract: Not available

Revolutionary Art or “Revolutionizing Art”? Making Art on the Streets of Cairo

By: Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 23 (2017)

Abstract: In an article published on December 17, 2014, Surti Singh, an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the American University in Cairo (AUC), wrote that “a new set of questions is crystallizing about the role of art in contemporary Egypt” and posed the following questions: “Can art still preserve the revolutionary spirit that spilled out in the graffiti and murals that covered Egypt’s streets?  Should this even be art’s focus?”  (Singh, 2014). Singh’s questions at the time were indicative of a growing debate in Egypt over what constitutes a legitimate “art” and what its focus should be following the uprising of January 2011, given the emergence of new forms of art in public spaces. Public art is not a new phenomenon in Egypt – its modern history goes back to the late 19th century (Karnouk 2005; Winegar 2006), and street art also has a history prior to the uprising in Egypt (Charbel 2010; Jarbou 2010; Hamdy et.al 2014, Abaza, 2016).  However, the form, content and even the players of public art and street art have changed as practices have become more visible and with this visibility come new questions – what is the role of art in uprising and post-uprising Egypt? Should art incite the public to act against a repressive government, should it serve as a form of awareness, and/or should it document the revolutions “real” history versus what is reported in state media?  Is overtly “political” art serving the “revolution” or undermining it? Is aesthetically pleasing, but seemingly content deprived art, a disservice to the revolution?

Arabic Performance Poetry: A New Mode of Resistance

By: Muhammad Agami Hassan Muhammad

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly  Volume 39, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Performance poetry, as a literary term, is known in the Western literature, although some critics may not consider it literary in the first place. This article assumes the applicability of this term to new attempts of some Egyptian youth whose poems share the common features of performance poetry in English literature. Their poetic works are passionate, rhythmic, using aural and visual effects in the background, and dialects in addition to the poet’s presentation of the poem face to face with the audience. Regarding the content, their verse has preceded and accompanied the political turmoil Egypt witnessed before, during, and after 25 January Revolution. For this reason, this poetic pattern loudly reflects the concerns, demands, and aspirations of the rebellious generation of youth and the whole Egyptian society. It can be considered the manifestation of the new challenging spirit of the youth in Egypt. The aim of the research is to highlight the similarities between the Anglo-American performance poetry and the literary works of two Egyptian young poets: Hisham al-Gakh and Amr Qatamish. As an interdisciplinary study, literary criticism, cultural criticism including socio-political analysis will be utilized to elucidate how performance poetry represents a new trend of resisting corruption and injustice, as well as a revolution against conventional poetic forms.

From the web to the streets: internet and protests under authoritarian regimes

By: Kris Ruijgrok

Published in Democratization Volume 24, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: This article systematically investigates the relationship between internet use and protests in authoritarian states and democracies. It argues that unlike in democracies, internet use has facilitated the occurrence of protests in authoritarian regimes, developing a theoretical rationale for this claim and substantiating it with robust empirical evidence. The article argues that whereas information could already flow relatively freely in democracies, the use of the internet has increased access to information in authoritarian regimes despite authoritarian attempts to control cyberspace. The article suggests this increased access to information positively affects protesting in authoritarian states via four complementary causal pathways: (1) by reducing the communication costs for oppositional movements; (2) by instigating attitudinal change; (3) decreasing the informational uncertainty for potential protesters; and (4) through the mobilizing effect of the spread of dramatic videos and images. These causal pathways are illustrated using anecdotal evidence from the Tunisian revolution (2010–2011). The general claim that internet use has facilitated the occurrence of protests under authoritarian rule is systematically tested in a global quantitative study using country-year data from 1990 to 2013. Internet use increases the expected number of protests in authoritarian states as hypothesized. This effect remains robust across a number of model specifications.

Egyptian Comic and the Challenge to Patriarchal Authoritarianism 

By: Jacob Høigilt

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies  Volume 49, Issue 1 (2017)

Abstract: Adult comics are a new medium in the Arab world. This article is the first in-depth study of their emergence and role within Arab societies. Focused on Egypt, it shows how adult comics have boldly addressed political and social questions. Seeing them as part of a broader cultural efflorescence in Egypt, I argue that, against patriarchal authoritarianism, adult comics have expressed an alternative ideology of tolerance, civic rights and duties, individualism, creativity, and criticism of power. Specifically, they present a damning critique of Egypt’s authoritarian order, as well as of the marginalization of women and broader gender dynamics in Egyptian society. Through frank humor, a playful style, and explicit graphics, they give voice to the concerns of young Egyptians. Connecting comics to other art forms such as music, graffiti, and political cartoons, I situate them within a critical cultural movement that came to the fore with the Egyptian uprising of 2011.

Street arts of resistance in Tahrir and Gezi

By: Hakkı Taş

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 53, Issue 5 (2017)

Abstract: With the tremendous visibility of popular mobilization in the last decade, scholars have increasingly directed their attention to the streets to examine the dynamics of power and resistance. Among emerging venues of politics, this study examines street art and graffiti as a performance of resistance in the 2011 Tahrir Revolution and 2013 Gezi Protests in Egypt and Turkey, respectively. As re-appropriation of the urban landscape and modes of self-expression, street art and graffiti lie at the intersection of politics, space, and identity. Inspired by James C. Scott’s concept of ‘arts of resistance’, this study takes up these ‘street arts of resistance’ as revealing the hidden transcript, namely, the self-disclosure of subordinates under the politics of disguise. While unpacking that subversive power, this study rests on its claim that street art and graffiti not only seek to represent, but also to perform and interject. Thereafter, it examines how these modes of visual culture interrupt time, space, and the self, along with their respective effects.

Cartooning and the Democratic Transition in Tunisia: Lilia Halloul

By: Lilia Labidi

Published in Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies Volume 11, Issue 3 (2015)

Abstract: The Arab Spring in Tunisia brought with it new rights for women, such as allowing them to wear the hijab for a photo ID, establishing gender parity in political elections, and lifting Tunisia’s reservations on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, which was signed by the government in August 2011. This has produced a proliferation of groups and viewpoints that are often in conflict with one another and sometimes attack women and women’s rights promoted under previous postcolonial authoritarian regimes. The free and democratic elections of October 2011 led to a coalition of Ennahdha, the Islam-oriented majority party, and two secular parties. This opened the way for preachers from the Mashreq and Arab Gulf countries to present their support for practices that had not previously been part of public discussion…

‘Literary Springs’ in Libyan Literature: Contributions of Writers to the Country’s Emancipation

By: Elvira Diana

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 23, Issue 4 (2014)

Abstract: Much of Arab literature can be considered the dīwān (register) of Arab people’s history, which records pages both of its past and present. For this reason, the Arab Spring was certainly not an unexpected event but rather was foretold in literary works reflecting the discontent Arab people experienced under dictatorial regimes. In Libya, the seeds of the ‘Arab Spring’ can be found in the literary activity of some poets and writers who, since the beginning of Qadhdhafi’s rise, were committed to rebelling against the dictatorship and all its social and political abuses through their writing. Therefore, Libyan literature can be considered as a magnifying glass able to focus on the social and political reality that Libya has experienced in the last century. This article aims at analyzing how Libyan writers have contributed to the country’s emancipation before and during Qadhdhafi’s regime and to provide an outline of the literary springs that have occurred in Libyan literature since 1951 and which have accompanied the most important developments in Libya’s recent history.

Is the Egyptian Press Ready for Democracy? Evaluating Newspaper Coverage as an Indicator of Democratization

By: Noah Rayman

Published in Arab Media & Society  Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: If the Egyptian transition to democracy is to succeed, social institutions like the press will have to embrace their democratic responsibilities. In this paper, I look for signs of change in the post-Revolution press as an indicator of the progress of Egyptian democratization. During interviews conducted over the summer of 2011 with journalists and media experts in Egypt, I found that the press was still constrained by low journalistic standards and continued government interference. But the newspapers’ content tells a different story. Digitally combing through five years of coverage from the independent newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm’s online archives (comprising more than a quarter of a million articles), this study determined that coverage in the six months after the Revolution heavily converged on political topics that were formerly off limits. This newspaper replaced trivial reporting on culture and entertainment with coverage of the protests, political players like the Muslim Brotherhood, and the branches of government. These stories put pressure on the emerging government and set a precedent for political coverage under the new democratic regime. The evolution of Al-Masry Al-Youm’s coverage suggests that the newspaper is beginning to play a democratizing role, indicating that Egypt is progressing along the path to democracy

How Social Media Can Shape a Protest Movement: The Cases of Egypt in 2011 and Iran in 2009

By: Felix Tusa

Published in Arab Media & Society  Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

From TUNeZINE to Nhar 3la 3mmar: A Reconsideration of the Role of Bloggers in Tunisia’s Revolution

By: Amy Aisen Kallander

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Revolutionary Media on a Budget: Facebook-only Social Journalism

By: Yomna Elsayed

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: Not available

Social Media in Egypt’s Transition Period

By: Yosra Abdel Sattar El Gendi

Published in Khamasin (2013)

Abstract: This research examines the role of social media in the transition phase in Egypt (February 2011-June 2012). It asks whether social media networks lose out in turn asagents of mobilization to the political organizations that sprung up in the transitionphase. Further, it examines whether different political participants in elections, civilsociety, and massive protest movements used Facebook and Twitter differently in thetransition period. It also analyzes the use of social media in different types of protests. A mixed method was used that included focus groups, interviews and a user survey(n= 230). Among the main findings was that different social media networks are useddifferently by adherents of different political orientations, as well as different types ofpolitical participants. Also, social media partially reinforced organized structuresof mobilization during the transition period.

Music of Dissent and Revolution

By: Kerim Bouzouita

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 22, Issue 3 (2013)

Abstract: Since January 2011, the world has witnessed, via the media, the Arab uprisings. The role of music, and art more broadly, in these political upheavals is undoubtedly subject to many debates. Yet, the focus on now well-known artists who came to prominence during the protests obscures the much deeper and more conflicted role of music in the wider protests, no more so than in Tunisia. This article explores the inner political practices of the Tunisian underground music in its prehistory vis-a`-vis the revolution and during the most important protests. It highlights the connection between music and the social web and discusses the implications of that dynamic while raising larger questions about the nature of social relationships, identities and new practices of power in what I term the ‘new public cyberspace.’

Human Rights, the Internet and Social Media: Has Technology Changed the Way We See Things?

By: Ziad Khalil AbuZayyad

Published in Palestine-Israel: The Journal of Politics, Economics and Culture Volume 18, Issue 4 (2013)

Abstract: Freedom of expression is a requirement for a true democracy and declared as a human right, but not everyone has it. The struggle continues to assure freedom of expression around the world, but it becomes harder to achieve in areas where conflict exists or when a country is going through political or social change.

Poetry and the January 25 Revolution: Introduction and Selected Poems

By: Shaaban Yusuf

Published in Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics Issue 32 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Egyptian Revolution: A Triumph of Poetry

By: Reem Saad

Published in American Ethnologist Volume 39, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: The 11‐day interval between the fall of Tunisia’s Ben Ali and the onset of the Egyptian revolution is now almost forgotten. These days were important mainly as the time when inspiration was nurtured and the big question on people’s minds was, could a revolution happen in Egypt? Never before had this question been debated so intensely. I look at two contrasting ways of addressing it. On the one hand, seasoned political analysts (mostly political scientists) were predominantly saying no, Egypt is not Tunisia. On the other hand, activists were talking dreams and poetry, especially invoking lines from two famous Arab poets on the power of popular will and the inevitability of revolution. In this case, poetry prevailed. It was not only a source of inspiration but also carried more explanatory power than much social science. Here I document this moment and pay tribute to poetry and dreams. [Egypt, revolution, Tunisia, poetry, experts]

‘Suleiman: Mubarak decided to step down #egypt #jan25 OH MY GOD’: examining the use of social media in the 2011 Egyptian revolution

By: Genevieve Barrons

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 5, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: For the last decade, a debate has raged over the place of social media within popular uprisings. The 2011 Egyptian revolution shed new light on this debate. However, while the use of social media by Egyptians received much focus, and activists themselves pointed towards it as the key to their success, social media did not constitute the revolution itself, nor did it instigate it. Focusing solely on social media diminishes the personal risks that Egyptians took when heading into the streets to face rubber bullets and tear gas, as well as more lethal weapons. Social media was neither the cause nor the catalyst of the revolution; rather it was a tool of coordination and communication.

The Arab Digital Vanguard: How a Decade of Blogging Contributed to a Year of Revolution

By: Jillian York

Published in Georgetown Journal of International Affairs Volume 13, Issue 1 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Music and the Aura of Revolution

By: Mark LeVine

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 44, Issue 4 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

The Languages of the Arab Revolutions

By: Abdou Filali-Ansary

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 23, Issue 2 (2012)

Abstract: The upheavals that have been shaking the Arab-Muslim world are revolutions in discourse as well as in the streets. Arabs are using not only traditional and religious vocabularies, but also a new set of expressions that are modern and represent popular aspirations. We now seem to be at a moment when large strata in Arab societies (and in developing countries more broadly) have reached a state of real disenchantment with utopias, and seem to be ready for other forms of political participation. The conviction that there are alternatives to the kinds of regimes that have for so long imposed themselves on Arab societies—that life under this or that brand of dictatorship and unaccountable rule emphatically does not have to be the Arabs’ fate—seems to have taken hold of the collective imagination.

Culture, State and Revolution

By: Sonali Pahwa, Jessica Winegar

Published in Middle East Report Volume 42, Issue 263 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Egypt’s Music of Protest

By: Ted Swedenburg

Published in Middle East Report Volume 42, Issue 265 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

Rebuilding Egyptian Media for A Democratic Future

By: Ramy Aly

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 14 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Cyberactivism in The Egyptian Revolution: How Civic Engagement and Citizen Journalism Tilted The Balance

By: Sahar Khamis, Katherine Vaughn

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 14 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

Literature and Revolution

By: Samah Selim

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 43, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

The Role of Digital Media

By: Philip N. Howard, Muzammil M. Hussain

Published in Journal of Democracy Volume 22, Issue 3 (2011)

Abstract: During the “Arab Spring,” young tech savvy activists led uprisings in a dozen countries across North Africa and the Middle East. At first, digital media allowed democratization movements to develop new tactics for catching dictators off guard. Eventually, authoritarian governments worked social media into their own counter-insurgency strategies. What have we learned about the role of digital media in modern protest? Digital media helped to turn individualized, localized, and community-specific dissent into structured movements with a collective consciousness about both shared grievances and opportunities for action.

‘Let them Have Some Fun’: Political and Artistic Forms of Expression in The Egyptian Revolution

By: Farida Makar

Published in Mediterranean Politics Volume 16, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

From Subjects to Citizens? Civil Society and The Internet in Syria

By: Roschanack Shaery-Eisenlohr

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 20, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: Not available

After Egypt: The Limits and Promise of Online Challenges to The Authoritarian Arab State

By: Marc Lynch

Published in Perspectives on Politics Volume 9, Issue 2 (2011)

Abstract: The uprisings which swept across the Arab world beginning in December 2010 pose a serious challenge to many of the core findings of the political science literature focused on the durability of the authoritarian Middle Eastern state. The impact of social media on contentious politics represents one of the many areas which will require significant new thinking. The dramatic change in the information environment over the last decade has changed individual competencies, the ability to organize for collective action, and the transmission of information from the local to the international level. It has also strengthened some of the core competencies of authoritarian states even as it has undermined others. The long term evolution of a new kind of public sphere may matter more than immediate political outcomes, however. Rigorous testing of competing hypotheses about the impact of the new social media will require not only conceptual development but also the use of new kinds of data analysis not traditionally adopted in Middle East area studies.


[The following articles do not relate to the Uprisings directly, but deal with cultural production either before or after the Uprisings.]

Magical realism and metafiction in Post-Arab spring literature: narratives of discontent or celebration?

By: Abida Younas

Published in British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies Volume 47, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: My study is an attempt to examine recent developments in post-Arab Spring fiction by Anglo-Arab immigrant authors. Instead of conforming to the traditional narrative modes and strategies, post-Arab Spring literature provides a bitter evaluation of the so-called Arab Spring and deconstructs the revolutionary rhetoric that heralds a new era for the Arab world by producing a counter-narrative. The selected novels, Karim Alrawi’s Book of Sands and Youssef Rakha’s The Crocodiles, use peculiar strategies to portray the fractured and cryptic realities of the Arab world. Written within the framework of realism, utilizing the literary strategies of postmodern literature, these writers unsettle the boundaries of literary genres and give rise to diverse phenomenal trends in Arab fiction. Using magical realism, Alrawi expands the traditional realist narrative style by blending realist elements with magical. By employing metafiction, Rakha formally exhibits the precarious scenario of the Arab world. Drawing on the theory of Magical Realism and Metafiction, these works are investigated in order to emphasize how this new writing reflects the unstable reality of the Arab Spring. While it is too early to discern the characteristics of Post-Arab Spring literature, my research is a contribution to developing a framework in which to do so.

“I Have Ambition”: Muhammad Ramadan’s Proletarian Masculinities in Postrevolution Egyptian Cinema

By: Frances S. Hasso

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 52, Issue 2 (2020)

Abstract: This article provides a close reading of two popular Egyptian action films, al-Almani (The German, 2012), the first blockbuster since the 25 January 2011 revolution, and Qalb al-Asad (Lion heart, 2013), both starring Muhammad Ramadan as a socially produced proletarian “thug” figure. Made for Egyptian audiences, the films privilege entertainment over aesthetics or politics. However, they express distinct messages about violence, morality, and revolution that are shaped by their moments of postrevolutionary release. They present the police state in salutary yet ambivalent terms. They offer a rupture with prerevolutionary cinema by staging the failure of proletarian masculinities and femininities that rely on middle-class respectability in relation to sex, marriage, and work. Even as each film expresses traces of revolutionary upheaval and even nostalgia, cynicism rather than hopefulness dominates, especially in al-Almani, which conveys to the middle and upper classes the specter of an ever-present threat of masculine frustration. The form and content of Qalb al-Asad, by comparison, offer the option of reconciling opposing elements—an Egyptian story line with a less repressive conclusion if one chooses a path between revolutionary resistance and accepting defeat.

Egyptian Movement Poetry

By: Elliott Colla

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 51, Issue 1-2 (2020)

Abstract: Poetry has long had a central place in the repertoires of modern Egyptian protest movements, but just as social science accounts of these movements downplay the role of expressive arts (such as poetry), literary studies of colloquial Egyptian poetry have downplayed the performative dynamic of this poetry, as well as its role within social movements. This essay develops the concept of “movement poetry” within the Egyptian social movements, with a special focus on the protest cycle of 1968-1977. In so doing, it discusses the work of Abdel Rahman el-Abnoudi (ʿAbd al-Raḥmān al-Abnūdī), Ahmed Fouad Negm (Aḥmad Fuʾād Nijm), Samīr ʿAbd al-Bāqī, and others, and considers the conventions and repertoires that extend to Egyptian activists in the present.

Underground Music in Tunisia: The Case of Awled AL Manajim Under Ben Ali

By: Mohamed Chamekh

Published in Middle East Critique  Volume 29, Issue 4 (2020)

Abstract: Awled AL Manajim musical group was forced to go underground under Ben Ali (1987-2010) as the consequence of regime censorship and restrictions on engaged artists. The post-Ben Ali era experienced the proliferation of other types of underground music, in particular rap and hip-hop which achieved major importance in comparison with the old forms of the underground that managed not only to survive Ben Ali’s dictatorship, but also created a culture of resistance through art. This article argues that Awled AL Manajim contributed to the development of a resistance movement in the Mining Basin and suggests that this musical group managed, to a certain extent, to articulate the causes and concerns of the local populace.

Watching television while forcibly displaced: Syrian refugees as participant audiences

By: Katty Alhayek

Published in Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies Volume 17, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: In this article, I explore how Syrian refugees and internally displaced people are using social media to reshape interpretations of their own status through their engagement with quality TV texts that tackle the refugee crisis. I focus on the discourse surrounding the Syrian Television Drama series Ghadan Naltaqi (GN) [We’ll Meet Tomorrow] which is particularly interesting because of the dialogue that has developed between the forcibly displaced segment of its audience and the writer/creator of the show, Iyad Abou Chamat. Methodologically, this research is based on 26 semi-structured interviews conducted in Arabic language: one interview with Chamat, and 25 interviews with members of his audience who friended Chamat on Facebook after GN aired. I demonstrate that Facebook serves as an outlet for interactivity between displaced drama producers and audiences in a way that imitates the dynamics of live theater. While such interactivity is facilitated by technology, the emergence of this interactive relationship is owned to the desires for (re-)connection of both drama creators and audiences stemming from the alienation of war, violence and displacement. The particularity of the Syrian war-related topic in GN and its applicability to both the creator of the series as well as to audiences’ lived experiences evoked a significant level of online participation with Chamat. I use the term ‘participant audiences’ to describe the interactive, emotional responses of displaced audiences and their online engagement with TV content that address the disconnections they experience because of conflict and displacement while offering them possibilities for coping with violence, marginalization, and suffering. I show how the entertainment interventions of drama creators help displaced people both to mitigate the traumatic effects of a highly polarizing conflict, and to find a healing space from violent and alienating dominant media discourses.

Twitter, social movements and the logic of connective action: Activism in the 21st century – an introduction

By: Judith E. Rosenbaum, Gwen Bouvier

Published in Participations: Journal of Audience & Reception Studies Volume 17, Issue 1 (2020)

Abstract: Not available

Nationalism and the Use of Pop Music: A Discourse Analysis of the Song “Boshret Kheir”

By: Mohamed Gameel & Salma El Ghetany

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 27 (2019)

Abstract: The Egyptian Arabic song, “Boshret Kheir” or ‘good omen’, represents an example of the role of popular music in promoting populism, patriotism, and the ideology of Egyptian nationalism. Given the song’s popularity, this article poses the question: what transforms an ordinary pop song into a national phenomenon? The song is studied through observational discourse, using visual semiotic analysis of its video clip. The song was adopted as a patriotic anthem of sorts by a segment of society- namely those espousing the mainstream narrative in support of the military. It was produced to encourage political activism and participation but carried a deeper meaning given its affiliation with the ruling military at the time. The song was released ten days before the presidential elections, almost one year after former president Mohammed Morsi was ousted, on June 30th, 2013. Although “Boshret Kheir” was meant to encourage people to participate in the presidential elections, the discourse analysis in this study shows that the song’s lyrics symbolized the election’s legitimacy.

Arab Millennials’ Articulation of Identity in Cyberspace: A study of three MENA YouTubers

By: Mohammad Ayish, Abeer AlNajjar

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 27 (2019)

Abstract: This study investigates how three young Arab influencers negotiate their identities in cyberspace. Abdallah Al Maghlouth, Abdulrahman Mohammed, and Laila Hzaineh were selected for this study because they were listed among the top MENA influencers by the Arab Social Media Summit (2015) or by Stepfeed.[1] The article draws on the cultural hybridity perspective to demonstrate how these influencers articulate cultural identity across three themes: human engagement, women’s empowerment, and cultural revivalism. Cultural hybridity gained prominence within a range of cultural and social theories beginning in the 1980s. Recently, it has come to be interchangeably used with Robertson’s notion of ‘glocalization’ (Robertson 2012). Hybridity is a dynamic process necessary for cultural co-existence, continuity and for reconciling global sets of values with local (dominantly Arab-Islamic) social norms. Identity is informed by aspects of belonging or not to social groups; cyberspace is a new frontier for shaping and renewing social identities in the Middle East, with the majority of the population under 25 years and great levels of internet penetration, it is important to examine emerging sense of self and groups amongst Arab youth in cyberspace.

Towards an Egyptian Bildungsroman: The National Intellectual after the 1919 Revolution in Naguib Mahfouz’s Sugar Street

By: Rania Mahmoud

Published in Arab Studies Quarterly Volume 41, Issue 4 (2019)

Abstract: Reading Naguib Mahfouz’s Sugar Street (1957) as a Bildungsroman, I argue that Mahfouz creates an Egyptian Bildungsroman that relies on constant revision of European forms and a merging of local and global paradigms to fit the Egyptian socio-historical context. Mahfouz rejects both the traditional Bildungsroman as well as classical indigenous forms as signifiers of mimicry and petrification respectively. While the resolution of the Bildungsroman entails the negation of the Other, whose maturation is requisite upon accepting models that marginalize him/her, classical models render the Other a geographic and temporal anachronism. In place of the traditional Bildungsroman and classical Arabic literary models, Mahfouz advocates for an eclectic paradigm that changes with the historical moment.

Social Media and Urban Social Movements: The Anatomy of Continued Protest in Authoritarian Contexts

By: Magdalena Karolak

Published in Contemporary Arab Affairs Volume 12, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: The goal of this research is to explore the opportunities brought about by the use of new media in urban protests. Specifically, it investigates the use of the Internet in modern protest movements that failed to bring about the changes they sought, using Bahrain as a case study. The focus is put on urban movements that continue revolutionary activism off- and online in the sixth year after the failure of the Bahraini uprising. This research assesses the need to maintain an online presence for these cities and explains the goals of their online presence. The paper also aims to understand what type of variations exist within these urban movements; and analyzes the interplay between such online manifestations and online censorship. This research is based on the critical discourse analysis of web content and graphic representations produced by Bahraini activists on particular online sites pertaining to each city in question.

Citizen Journalism via Blogging: A Possible Resolution to Mainstream Media’s Ineptitude

By: Heba Elshahed, Sally Tayie

Published in Global Media Journal  Volume 17, Issue 33 (2019)

Abstract: Throughout the past years, the emergence of the Egyptian Blogosphere has been a definitive phenomenon. The Egyptian Blogosphere went through fluctuations and evolutionary phases, resulting in it becoming a powerful platform for cyber space political activism and citizen journalism, in attempts to compensate for the mainstream media’s inadequacy. This paper explores previous studies conducted on this topic. It is supported by a study that gives an insight on the extent at which Egyptian youth/citizens regard blogs as credible and reliable sources of their news, and more generally, as a source of news that can replace mainstream media. By conducting 101 online surveys with a random sample, this study investigates four hypotheses: Before January 25 revolution: H1: Politically active/interested internet users rely on blogs as a source of news After January 25 revolution: H2: Politically active/interested internet users rely on blogs as a source of news H3: Politically active/interested internet users perceive blogs as a credible source of news/updates H4: Politically active/interested internet users regard blogs as more truthful and inclusive than mainstream media because it is a form of citizen journalism Findings reveal hypothesis 1 is unsupported, hypotheses 2 and 3 are partly supported, and hypothesis 4 is strongly supported.

Andalusi Contests, Syrian Media Content: the Poetic Ritual Ijāzah 

By: Samuel England

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 50, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: This article moves the poetic ijāzah from the periphery, where modern scholars have generally placed it, to a central position in Arabic poetry and mass media. The ijāzah was well developed before its adoption in the western Mediterranean, but Cordoban, Sevillian, and expatriate Sicilian poets distinguished the competitive improvised poem from corollary works in the Middle East, where it had first been invented. I argue that it is precisely the Andalusi innovations to the ijāzah’s formal development that have allowed traditional criticism to minimize its importance, against a larger trend of popular audiences appreciating performed ijāzahs, on stage and in mass media. Modern Arabic theatre and television have found enthusiastic audiences for the Andalusi poetic dialogue, a phenomenon that frames my Classical research. Media outlets, including those working closely with government officials, stage the ijāzah in ways that maximize its ideological value. As they use it to promote secularism and putatively benevolent dictatorship, propelling Andalusi literature into current Middle Eastern politics, we critics should seek to understand the dialogic form in its contemporary, insistently political phase of development.

Social Media Activism in Egyptian Television Drama: Encoding the Counter-Revolution Narrative

By: Gianluca P. Parolin

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 28, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract: Egyptian Ramadan TV series have explored the relationship between law and television in a number of iterations over the past few years. In 2017, the most watched production (115 million views on YouTube), Kalabsh, went one step further by examining the interaction between television broadcasting and social media in affecting the course of justice. Even though its events revolve around the framing and wrongful incrimination of a ‘good’ police officer, the dynamics suggest a not-so-subtle reference to the January 25, 2011 uprising. It portrayed social media actors as naïve agitators, outsmarted and used by those same dark networks of business and politics that they intend to expose and ultimately to unseat. This representation strengthens the counter-revolution’s narrative of the January 25 uprising as the making of some ‘Facebook kids’ [ʿiyāl bitūʿ il-face]. With Kalabsh, Egyptian TV series recalibrate the representation of the role of television broadcasting in affecting the course of justice and thus produce a new narrative that includes social media. This representation challenges as ‘optimistic’ the reading of the ‘democratic’ nature of social media by showing how its actors are even more prone to falling prey to mystifications and networks of corruption. The centrality of television broadcasting in affecting the course of justice clearly recedes in Kalabsh, but television broadcasting itself seems to regain some reputation.

Visualizing Inequality: The Spatial Politics of Revolution Depicted in Syrian Television Drama

By: Nour Halabi

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 28, Issue 2 (2019)

Abstract:  This article analyzes how Syrian television drama is not only an important field of cultural expression and a site of contestation but also reveals the many socioeconomic spatial tensions underlying the 2011 Revolution and its aftermath. The latter aspect is demonstrated through a visual and textual analysis of two television serials that depict the ‘ashwa’iyat,

The Bureaucratic Broadcasting Governing Structure and Content Diversity: The Case of the Egyptian National Television System

By: Rasha Allam N

Published in Global Media Journal  Volume 16, Issue 30 (2018)

Abstract: Media regulations become quite essential due to the rapid technological innovations appearing at unprecedented pace leading to change in the media marketplace. These changes bring along change in the framework that governs this media. Although the research on media management has been of great concern since the 1960s, it has recently gained the attention of media scholars and political economists. The main reason is the increased awareness of the scholars about the impact and the importance of media management on the media performance and on society. According to one of the recent research, media market mechanisms and dynamics has a measurable impact on the quality and the type of media that reaches the public. Because it is difficult to stop or prevent audience from being exposed to different sources of information, it is difficult as well to stick to a state run broadcasting system within an era characterized by deregulation, satellite broadcasting, technological development and the Internet. Therefore it is important to maintain at least one medium that promotes the notion of social capital and national identity. Yet, this kind of broadcasting requires regulation and independence in order to be sustainable amidst the fierce competition. As the Egyptian media is in a transitional period that requires changes to cope within the new media landscape, this study will analyze the deficiencies of the state owned Egyptian media organizational structure and the ways it affects media content. And measure the relative importance of the derived organizational principles to be applied in the Egyptian media system to ensure independency.

All is Flux: A Hybrid Media Approach to Macro-Analysis of the Turkish Media

By: Aslı Tunç

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Since 2002, when the Justice and Development Party (AKP) came to power, the media in Turkey have undergone significant transformation. Drawing on the historical background of Turkish media and including the coup attempt on July 15, 2016, this article focuses on the changing role of newspapers and television channels, as well as the journalism profession. In-depth interviews lead the way to an analysis of the media sector’s function at the intersection between clientelism, authoritarian tendencies, and capitalist market rules. The concept of ‘hybridity’ used for this study offers a theoretical framework for discussing how Turkey fits into the model of competitive authoritarianism and Andrew Chadwick’s hybridity media framework.

Social Media in Turkey as a Space for Political Battles: AKTrolls and other Politically motivated trolling

By: Erkan Saka

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: This article focuses on AKTrolls, defined as pro-government political trolls in Turkey, while attempting to draw implications about political trolling in the country in general. It examines their methods and effects, and it interrogates whether (and how) Turkish authorities have attempted to shape or counter politically motivated social media content production through trolling after the Gezi Park Protests that took place in 2013. My findings are based on an ethnographic study that included participant observation and in-depth interviews in a setting that is under-studied and about which reliable sources are difficult to find. The study demonstrates political trolling activity in Turkey is more decentralized and less institutionalized than generally thought, and is based more on ad hoc decisions by a larger public. However, I argue here that AKTrolls do have impact on reducing discourses on social media that are critical of the government, by engaging in surveillance, among other practices.

Negotiating Values in the Islamist Press after 2013

By: Michelanglo Guida

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 27, Issue 2 (2018)

Abstract: Turkey’s Islamist press has been influenced essentially by three contingencies: partisanship, lack of political autonomy, and lack of economic autonomy. These contingencies are reflected in the opinion pieces of Islamist columnists, five of whom are examined here in detail. To understand how their opinions are shaped, this article focuses on their interpretations of two dramatic events: the Gezi Park protests and the December 17–25 corruption scandals, both of which took place in 2013. This analysis provides a granular look at how the different Islamist columnists produced highly contrasting responses to government policies and choices, giving a unique insight on the intellectual dynamics within the Islamist community as the July 15, 2016 coup approached.

Turkey’s Purge of Critical Academia

By: Muzaffer Kaya

Published in Middle East Report Volume 48, Issue 288 (2018)

Abstract: The crackdown on academia undertaken by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) began in early 2016 with the repression of the group of anti-war university professors and scholars who became known as the “Academics for Peace.” It was followed by an all-out government purge of higher education—including the mass expulsion of more than 6,000 academics and the prosecution of hundreds more, university closures and institutional restructuring—during the emergency rule that followed the failed July 2016 coup attempt against President Erdoğan. Authorities also routinely interfere with student protests on campus and monitor academic research on sensitive topics.

The Birth and Death of 25TV: Innovation in Post-Revolution Egyptian TV News Formats

By: Dina Ibrahim

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 23 (2017)

Abstract: This case study highlights an experiment that aimed to disrupt traditional television news production and presentation models in post-revolution Egypt. It is a snapshot of a brief moment in Egyptian television history when an attempt was made at innovating news production and content, but much like the Egyptian revolution, ultimately failed to change the status quo. The case study of 25TV examines how political, social, and economic dissatisfaction among Egyptian youth inspired innovation in news formats that gave more content production power to younger and less experienced news presenters and producers. Through the brief lifespan of 25TV, this article will discuss the role of social media and television in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, the contentious relationship between freedom of speech and military rule, and the innovative ways in which television formats in Egypt were nurtured, grew and perished in the post-revolution era.

Middle Eastern Minorities in Global Media and the Politics of National Belonging

By: Elizabeth Monier

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 24 (2017)

Abstract: Since the Arab uprisings began in 2010, some communities have experienced increased levels of violence or insecurity on the basis of their ethnic, religious, or linguistic identity. This article examines how such communities have mobilized and developed their media strategies in order to protect themselves and adapt to their changing circumstances. Through investigating the cases of Coptic Christians in Egypt and Ezidis in Iraq, this article demonstrates that both of these communities have begun to connect their community interests with international political concerns and narratives through engaging with global media. Recent scholarship on indigenous media shows globalizing trends in media production and consumption have led indigenous media to increasingly tap into both national and global media to support their advocacy. In my case studies, the move to engage global media has particularly flourished since 2014 but the emphasis is on direct engagement with international political discourses through global media. Most notable is the mobilization of a campaign to recognize violence against Christians and Ezidis in the Middle East as genocide. The aims in engaging the international level differ between the Coptic and Ezidi cases. For Copts, there is a balance between raising the profile of violence against Copts in global media while employing narratives that support Egyptian state policies and strengthen pre-existing Coptic discourses of national belonging. Ezidi diaspora activists seek international protection and potentially an autonomous area in Iraq. This article argues that the differences in the terms and aims of global media engagement stem partly from the way the community perceives its status within the home nation, particularly with regards the notion of being a minority, as well as experiences of national belonging.

Subversive Writing: Mona Prince’s ‘Laughing Revolution’ from pre- to post-2011 Egypt

By: Patrizia Zanelli

Published in Journal of Arabic and Islamic Studies Volume 17, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Although it may seem absurd, it is no exaggeration to say that humour is a very serious matter in Egypt, where dozens of intellectuals have analysed this phenomenon, often linking it to their national identity. This article presents various opinions on Egyptian satire to introduce a 2015 novel by Mona Prince, one of the Egyptian writers of the 1990s generation. In 2012, the author published a memoir of the January 25 Revolution. This study tries to explain the relationship between her political activism and her literary career; the role of humour in her oeuvre; and how she deals with gender and religious issues in her 2015 work, which is also autobiographic. Moreover, since the novelist wrote the text between 2008 and 2014, this article offers some notes on satiric literature in pre- and post-2011 Egypt.

The Grandchildren of Yūnis: Palestinian Protest Camps, Infiltration, and Ilyās Khūrī’s Bāb al-shams

By: Drew Paul

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 48, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: In January 2013, Palestinian activists set up a camp on Israeli-occupied land in the West Bank to protest Israeli settlement plans. They named their village “Bāb al-shams,” or “Gate of the Sun,” after Ilyās Khūrī’s novel by the same name that chronicles the Palestinian refugee experience from the beginning of the conflict to the present. A subsequent protest camp, called “Aḥfād Yūnis” or “the Grandchildren of Yūnis,” positioned the protesters as the heirs to the struggle waged by the novel’s hero, Yūnis, an aging Palestinian freedom fighter who has fallen into a coma. They drew upon the novel’s narrative and characters to create videos, images, and songs in support of their protest. This article uses this moment of interaction between literature and politics to consider how the protesters’ invocation of the novel complicates the relationship between literature, memory, and political activism. Just as the novel critiques an overreliance on certain forms of memory of Palestine, the protesters use the novel’s narrative to move beyond memory as a primary mode of articulating Palestinian political aims in the present. They seek a mode of engaging with the past that is not bound by the fragmented and unreliable recollections of earlier generations, but rather one that is dynamic and constituted through acts of infiltration and movement.

Sight, Sound, and Surveillance in Baʿthist Syria: The Fiction of Politics in Rūzā Yāsīn Ḥasan’s Rough Draft and Samar Yazbik’s In Her Mirrors

By: Max Weiss

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 48, Issue 3 (2017)

Abstract: Contemporary Syrian literature bears unmistakable traces of more than four decades of authoritarian rule. This article identifies connections among aesthetics, politics, and affect in two Syrian novels, Rūzā Yāsīn Ḥasan’s Brūfā (Rough Draft) (2011) and Samar Yazbik’s Lahā marāyā (In Her Mirrors) (2010). Through literary representations of state security (the mukhābarāt), surveillance—including the structure and function of mirrors and screens, eavesdropping, and security stations—and new conceptions of the political, state power influences cultural production, even as the contemporary Syrian novel offers a critique of authoritarian dictatorship’s immanent relationship to the practice of narration itself.

Revolt in the Novel: Muḥammad Muṣṭafā Ghandūr’s Thaʾr al-damm (Blood Revenge) and the 1936-1939 Rebellion in Palestine

By: Pasquale Macaluso

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 48, Issue 2 (2017)

Abstract: Contrary to the inveterate opinion of most scholars, a Palestinian author actually dealt with political issues before the Nakbah in the novel Thaʾr al-damm (Blood Revenge). Published in Damascus in 1939 by Muḥammad Muṣṭafā Ghandūr from Acre, this work of fiction remained in oblivion for decades because the French Mandate authorities confiscated most of its copies soon after publication. It narrates the story of a young physician who forms an armed band to avenge the rape of his younger sister by British soldiers during the 1936-1939 uprising in Palestine; the woman, disguised as a man, joins the rebels and eventually dies in a fight.Through the symbolism behind the retaliation for the maiden’s rape, Thaʾr al-damm provides a literary interpretation of the Palestinians’ shift to organized insurgency against the British Mandate in the late 1930s. By pivoting the plot around the tropes of injury and revenge, Ghandūr translated the feelings of humiliation and threat, and the consequent quest for revenge and liberation shared by many Palestinians into a novel. The action of this story takes place in the Palestinian countryside, in a village community portrayed as a spotless model of national solidarity and harmoniously merged with its environment. Ghandūr sketches a protagonist who exemplifies the theme of the political radicalization of modern-educated youth and argues for the leading role that they should assume in the struggle, while the only female character illustrates village women’s actual involvement in the revolt.

Compressing Scales: Characters and Situations in Egyptian Internet Humor

By: Chihab El Khachab

Published in Middle East Critique Volume 26, Issue 4 (2017)

Abstract: This article examines common political assumptions made in Egyptian internet comics, mainstream television discourse, and everyday conversation in Cairo. These assumptions compress local, national, and global scales of analysis into a manageable set of characters (e.g., the President, the People) interacting in everyday situations. Arguing against psychological interpretations, the article highlights the social and historical context within which humor is ‘entextualized’ on par with television and everyday discourse, based on an analysis of a selection of Egyptian internet comics, television moments, and political talk in Cairo between 2013 and 2015.

Facebook Oriented Perspective of Egyptian Woman

By: Souraya El Badaoui

Published in Global Media Journal Volume 14, Issue 27 (2016)

Abstract: This study purposes to discover how the new media, namely Facebook can form the perception of gender attributes. To do that, I analyzed a data set of 200 Egyptian students in both national and private universities. Methodologically, the analysis is based on a questionnaire designed in line with particular criteria. For instance, I considered the social diversity in the Egyptian society as reflected in the data population; specifically I included two different categories of education institutions in Egyptian society. The general finding of the investigation indicates that there is an essential impact of the regular usage of Facebook on portraying a social attitude towards gender, mainly women.

A Thematic Analysis of Online News Stories Framing Democracy in Both Iraqs

By: Goran Sabah Ghafour

Published in Global Media Journal Volume 13, Issue 24 (2015)

Abstract: This study analyzed online news stories framing democracy in two leading news agencies in Iraq. A mixed method approach of combining quantitative and qualitative content analyses was used to examine themes framing democracy as well as analyzing topics and sources. The study also examined statistically significant differences between both news agencies for democracy. Democracy, political human rights, and popular participation, as three themes of democracy, appeared most frequently. Elections, corruption, and democracy were the most prominent topics covered by both news agencies. Findings show a significant difference statistically in coverage of democracy in the online news stories. In terms of sources, the majority of news stories used citizens and local officials as two most frequent sources in regard to the coverage of democracy. Findings show that media in Iraq and the Iraqi Kurdistan Region rely heavily on ordinary citizens along with powerful sources while covering themes of democracy.

Multiplicities of Purpose: The Auditorium Building, the State, and the Transformation of Arab Digital Media

By: David Faris

Published in International Journal of Middle East Studies Volume 47, Issue 2 (2015)

Abstract: Digital media played a key role in a number of uprisings that later became known as the Arab Spring. Now that this moment of resistance has largely given way to a tumultuous and unsettled regional order, we can ask what role these media forms are playing in the new ecology of the postuprisings Middle East. I would argue that we are witnessing a period of experimentation—journalists are attempting to generate both revenue and dissent under circumstances that range from unsettled (Tunisia) to increasingly repressive (Jordan), while proto-state actors and transnational jihadis are exploiting social media to attract supporters and influence diverse audiences. What is clear is that in many states the digital arrangement that characterized the 2000s—activist bloggers squaring off openly with recalcitrant and often clueless states—is gone. States are now more aware of and careful about the strategies they employ vis-à-vis digital dissent. In places such as Egypt, some of the most vocal activists are in prison. In Jordan, they have returned to producing journalism that skirts the line between tolerated and forbidden. Across the region digital media activists are grappling with disillusionment about the trajectory of the Arab Spring, while digital spaces are sites for transnational contestation, including by the most successful challenger to the state system since Jamal ʿAbd al-Nasir in the 1950s, the Islamic State (IS). ʿAbd al-Nasir famously used radio to breach the information firewalls erected by new Arab states. IS has similarly employed the technologies of the day to execute a plan of even greater ambition and reach—far from reaching out only across national boundaries within the subsystem, IS militants have crafted a transnational media operation of remarkable scope, one that has drawn tens of thousands of recruits not only from the Middle East but also from Europe, the United States, and Asia.

Amal Dunqul, The Prince of Protest Poets

By: Noha Radwan

Published in Journal of Arabic Literature Volume 45, Issue 2-3 (2014)

Abstract: Once called the prince of protest poets, Amal Dunqul (1940-1983) was indeed an Egyptian poet in permanent opposition to the figures of established authority, be it political, literary or religious. His poems were therefore often banned from mainstream publications, and deprived of timely critical and scholarly recognition. Although his poetry received critical recognition and attention posthumously, much remains to be done. Dunqul’s poems were original and unique contributions to modern Arabic poetry, especially with regards to his use of historical texts. This article is a study of three of Dunqul’s hallmark poems, written in 1961, 1967 and 1972 at three different stages of his short literary career. The article focuses on poetry’s intertextual engagement with history, and the political significance of this engagement.

Resistance amid Regime Co-optation on the Syrian Television Series Buq‘at Daw’, 2001–2012

By: Rebecca Joubin

Published in The Middle East Journal Volume 68, Issue 1 (2014)

Abstract: This article examines saches from the Syrian television show Buq’at Daw’ (Spotlight). Once considered indicative of changes many hoped for during the early days of the Bashar al-Asad regime, Buq’at Daw’ remained popular through the reform process’s failure and the beginning of the recent Syrian uprising. While scholars have cast critical programming as an “airing” of public frustrations permitted by the regime in order to stave off popular protest, this article argues that focusing on government intent robs intellectuals of agency. Instead, this article looks at productions like Buq’at Daw’ as part of a continual attempt by drama creators to challenge limits of what is permissible through innuendo, stratagem, and word artistry.

Online Mobilization in Times of Conflict: A Framing-Analysis Perspective

By: Mohamed Ben Moussa

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 17 (2013)

Abstract: The pro-democracy popular uprisings gripping the Arab world have ended or are seriously threatening long-entrenched dictatorships and repressive regimes. The uprisings have also been dubbed Facebook and Twitter revolutions, highlighting the role of the Internetin political advocacy and change. The use of the Internet in collective action in the Arab regionis not a recent phenomenon, since the technology has marked mediated politics in the region during the last decade. However, scholarly research on the subject remains insufficient and more important, largely under-theorized. To address these lacunas, this article analyzes the role of the Internet in political advocacy in a Muslimmajority society(the Moroccan one) through social movement theory and framing analysis.This article differentiates between various levels of mobilization to which the Internet contributes, and sheds light on its potential as a technology and political medium for collective action framing. Focusing on the case of Moroccan social movements and their framing of the 2009 Gaza war, thepieceaims to analyze how the Internet contributes to the capacity of oppositional civil society groups to challenge political, social and cultural injustices at the local, regional and international levels. This article argues that as the Internet becomes the central medium of political advocacy in the region, it increasingly shapes the organizational structure, boundaries and tactics of oppositional social movements and thus contributes to determining the outcome of their struggles.

Protest Song Marocaine

By: John Schaefer

Published in Middle East Report Volume 42, Issue 263 (2012)

Abstract: Not available

New Media and Social Change in Rural Egypt

By: Sahar Khamis

Published in Arab Media & Society Issue 12 (2010)

Abstract: This ethnographic audience study investigates the complex intersections between the dynamics of social change in the village of Kafr Masoud, close to the city of Tanta in the Egyptian Delta, and the transformations in the media arena in the same village, with the intent of assessing the numerous implications of these intersecting transformations on Egyptian rural women’s lived realities, including their familial and social relations, and, most importantly, their media reception and consumption experiences. In doing so, the study explores the complex paradoxes that these transformations have introduced in these women’s lives and the new challenges they have created on multiple levels, including: challenges to governmental ideologies, traditional religious authority, male domination, and parental control.

Press Liberalization, The New Media, and The ‘Coptic Question’: Muslim–Coptic Relations in Egypt in A Changing Media Landscape

By: Sebastian Elsässer

Published in Middle Eastern Studies Volume 46, Issue 1 (2010)

Abstract: The introduction of new media (internet, satellite TV) in the 1990s and the liberalization of the Egyptian press in the 2000s have brought the Coptic minority and its demands for equality and recognition to the forefront of public debate in Egypt. The consequences are diverse: more and sometimes better information and more room for the discussion of uncomfortable truths on the one hand, irresponsible sensationalism, the propagation of new and old prejudice, and a further strengthening of exclusive religious identities on the other hand. Government policies, though, rightly criticized as contributing to the current crisis in Muslim–Christian relations, have so far remained unaffected.