Top Ten Posts of 2014
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.
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.
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.
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.
Now this one is just silly. I learned of a trend by people around the world to create videos of their local communities to Pherrell Williams’s hit song “Happy.” So I looked up how many of these came from Egypt, and other Middle Eastern countries, and posted videos. Silly. But it got more than 650 visits.
Some 586 people visited this post, which reviewed a special issue of the Journal of North African Studies featuring a series of articles on “Women, Gender and the Arab Spring.” The decentralized, non-institutional activism that marked the Arab Spring included activism by a wide range of groups of women who sought to redefine how constitutional and legal language treats gender. Two of the articles specifically focused on Egypt.
Sex sells, as they say. My all-time top post over the three years of this blog has been “Sex, Politics and Social Drama in the New Egypt with more than 5000 hits.” And “Aliaa’s Naked Body: What Did It Matter Anyway?” was this year’s top post. And also in the top ten is this review of an article in Feminist Media Studies which analyzes the ways bloggers and on-line commentators have used these electronic spaces to contest “blame the victim” narratives used in constructing news reports about Lara Logan’s sexual assault in Tahrir Square in Egypt.
One of the nice things about a blog post is that I can call it like I see it. And though he is one of the most cited scholars of the 21st century, Manuell Castell’s chapter on Egypt in his new book Networks of Outrage and Hope (which also includes chapters on Tunisia and the Arab Spring generally, as well as Iceland, Spain and the US) is disappointing, to say the least. About 200 people visited this post to read the bad news (not that Manuel Castells cares what I say…).
About 160 people checked out this very brief summary of an article on how political activists across the spectrum–from the Muslim Brotherhood to democratic youth groups to pro-military types–are using social media in the post-Tahrir era.
“Wasta” is a keyword for understanding Egyptian society, but I was very disappointed by this article on wasta as merely “corruption” in the journal Cross Cultural Management. The survey methodology the authors used reduced wasta to mere patronage seeking, when–as I discuss in the post–it is much more than that. About 150 people read my story of Girgis, wasta, and his company’s worries about nepotism.