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Top Ten Posts of 2014

January 6, 2015

2

1. Bibliography of the Egyptian Uprisings

The bibliography, now in excess of 750 references, was updated twice this year. A page, rather than technically a post, it remains the blog’s single most popular site for visitors.

2. Aliaa’s Naked Body: What Did It Matter Anyway?

The combination of rebellion and naked pictures turn out to be a strong draw. This post reviewed an article interpreting the public response to Aliaa al-Mahdy’s “naked pictures as protest” activities back in 2011. It received over 1080 visits in 2014.

3. Mark Allen Peterson

When I put my curriculum vitae on the blog, it was meant to be a way for people to check out the credentials (such as they are) of the person writing these blog posts about Egypt. To my surprise, it has become a site that people search for and visit. There were 895 visits last year.

4. Farha Ghannam on Masculinity in Egypt

More than 675 people checked out my review of Farha Ghannam’s new book Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt (Stanford, 2014), This extended ethnographic exploration of masculinity in the Middle East is a wonderful, readable account that will become a standard work on gender in Egypt (and is fully consonant with my discussion of masculinity in Connected in Cairo.

Read more…

2014 In Review

December 30, 2014

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2014 annual report on how this blog was generated, followed, commented on and used over the past year.

I can’t imagine why anyone but me would be interested, but on the off chance that someone might, I share the link below..

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 29,000 times in 2014. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 11 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

The Muslim Brotherhood On-Line, In English

December 7, 2014
Ikhwanweb, says Soumia Bhadran, was a rhetorical tool through which the Muslim Brotherhood addressed Western audiences. The message has changed, but the desire to address Western audiences in English remains important.

Ikhwanweb, says Soumia Bardhan, was a rhetorical tool through which the Muslim Brotherhood addressed Western audiences. The message has changed, but the desire to address Western audiences in English remains important.

What was the point of Ikhwanweb, the Muslim Brotherhood’s official English-language web site?

The Muslim Brotherhood operates pretty much entirely in Arabic. The Brotherhood already had an Arabic web site. So why offer a web site in English?

Obviously, Ikhwanweb is designed to address different audiences than the MBs main web site. Who was this audience and what did the MB want to say to it through Ikhwanweb?

Those are the questions addressed by an article in the latest issue of the Digest of Middle East Studies (DOMES).

“Egypt, Islamists, and the Internet: The Case of the Muslim Brotherhood and Its Rhetoric of Dialectics in Ikhwanweb” by Soumia Bardhan analyzes the rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood on Ikhwanweb between 2005 and 2010.

Based on her analysis, Bardhan argues that Ikhwanweb sought to address Western societies–and especially the US:

Read more…

Was The Egyptian Revolution Really Revolutionary?

November 4, 2014
Was the "Arab Spring" truly revolutionary? That's a question posed in this slim new book out from Berghahn Books.

Was the “Arab Spring” truly revolutionary? That’s a question posed in this slim new book out from Berghahn Books.

In his introduction to the new book The Arab Spring: Uprisings, Powers, Interventions  (Berghahn 2014), author and editor Kjetil Fosshagen poses two key questions:

  • Were the Arab revolutions truly revolutionary?
  • Is there any evidence of coherent structural social forces that can be theorized and explicated to explain the many events collectively labeled “the Arab Spring”?

Fosshagen’s answer to the first question is clearly “no,” and his reasons for saying no are based on his “yes” to the second question.

He sees the Arab Spring as offering significant parallels with Europe’s 1848 “Spring of Nations,” uprisings which began as popular revolts but ended with an aristocracy of the financial and industrial elites and, ultimately, the emperorship of Napoleon III.

And just as Marx analyzed these events in his classic essay “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” so Fosshagen believes the early successes and (what he sees as) the ultimate failures of the Arab Spring can be understood through a classic analysis of relations of production. Read more…

Is As-Sisi Rebuilding “Mubarak’s Pyramid”?

October 2, 2014
Construction of the syphon that delivers water from the "New Valley" project under the Toshka spillway. Widely recognized as a debacle, the project is one of several issues involving farmers in a new essay.

Construction of the canal that delivers water from the “New Valley” project under the Toshka spillway. Widely recognized as a debacle, the project is one of several issues involving farmers in a new essay.

The Toshka project (recently revived by President As-Sisi) is “sucking in funds that might have been available for rural development in the old lands and might have boosted domestic nutrition,” according to a recent article in the Middle East Research and Information Project.

Entitled “Small Farmer Uprisings and Rural Neglect in Egypt and Tunisia,” the article by Habib Ayeb and Ray Bush is a wide-ranging essay that describes the tragic disappointment of farmers, among the most economically vulnerable of all Egyptians.

In Egypt, Toshka is a symbol for the Mubarak regime’s mismanagement, capturing both the government’s obsession with large scale projects and its commitment to foreign investment as a silver bullet for what ails the country.

Toshka was a proposed mega-project to build a 240-meter irrigation channel from the Nile Valley to the southwestern desert to irrigate land for agriculture. The idea was to solve population problems by moving farmers–up to 20 percent of the population–out of the Delta, where land is at a premium, while at the same time attracting foreign investment in new farms that would grow high-value crops for export.

In one swoop, Toshka was going to solve Egypt’s severe overpopulation, unemployment, and food security problems by creating a “new valley” to supplement the Nile valley.

Toshka failed miserably.

Read more…

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