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“The Arab Spring: Five Years After”

November 5, 2016

5-years-afterThird World Quarterly has a special collection of articles on “The Arab Spring: Five Years After.”

The collection of six papers is edited by Richard Falk, of Princeton, and Bülent Aras, of Solenci University.

There are, alas, no articles on Egypt specifically (as there are on Turkey and Syria), but several of the articles touch on Egypt and issues relevant to its 2011 uprisings, and their aftermath.

Here are the abstracts:

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“The Egyptian Revolution Hasn’t Happened Yet”

October 21, 2016

robin-wrightI had dinner with Robin Wright this week after she delivered the 2016 Grayson-Kirk lecture at Miami University.


Egypt was one of seven countries she discussed (along with Iran, Iraq, Libya, Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Tunisia), after a lengthy description of what she saw as the main issue in the region.

One way to see the changes in government wrought by the Egyptian uprisings is as a set of military coups, she said.

The first coup occurred when the military refused to open fire on Egyptian citizens, ultimately resulting in the resignation of Hosni Mubarak.

The second was the military ouster by force of the government of of Muhammad Morsi.

During the lecture, she emphasized that Egypt’s politics have “gyrated” since the uprisings, ultimately returning to autocracy. Yet the underlying problems that led to the uprisings have never been resolved. The economy continues its downward spiral, youth unemployment continues to grow and the willingness of the government to violate the constitution in the name of security creates an atmosphere of fear and anger.

“Is the real revolution yet to come?” she asked.

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Twitter Images of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution: New Journal Article

September 13, 2016

twitter-flagImages have a semiotic density quite different from that of words,

So if “a picture is worth a thousand words” how many tweets is it worth? And is the value different when you are trying to incite collective action?

Tamara Kharroub and Ozen Bas of the University of Indiana ask these questions about the Egyptian revolution of 2011. Claiming that “the role of social media in political activism has received much attention in recent years [but] the role of social media images remains largely understudied” they seek to fill this lacunae by looking at images circulated via Twitter.

To be precise, they ask three questions:

  1. What are the most dominant visual themes (in terms of emotionally arousing and efficacy-eliciting content) in the Twitter images posted during Egypt’s 2011 revolution?
  2. Does the content of images (emotionally arousing vs efficacy-eliciting) vary
    across the different phases of the Egyptian revolution?
  3. Does user information (user role, gender, and location) predict the number of
    retweets an image receives?

The authors use retweets to seek answers to these questions, arguing that:

In Twitter, retweets are commonly accepted as measures of the attention a message
receives and the popularity of a tweet… Retweets are also useful indicators of the influence of an image because they are a simple, common way of demonstrating people’s interest in content and its reach… We seek to investigate the relationship between the content of an image and the total number of times the image is retweeted. We, therefore, hypothesize the following: Emotionally arousing images (containing violence) will be retweeted more than efficacy-eliciting images (containing crowds, protest activities, and uniting symbols).

They discovered:

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CFP: Media & Culture

August 14, 2016


Arab Media & Society, the biannual journal of the Kamal Adham Center for Television and Digital Journalism in the School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the American University in Cairo is seeking submissions for our next issue on “Media and Culture”. Broadly, topics may relate to any area of culture including but not limited to art, music, literature, film, television, comics, and popular culture. Possible subtopics and themes may include:

  • Censorship and creative resistance
  • Social media and popular culture
  • Depiction, perception, and cross cultural influence
  • Fashion
  • Children and youth media and Arab culture
  • New trends in music and dance
  • Arab cinema
  • The economics of art
  • The politics of art
  • Art and nationalism
  • Cultural manifestations of social inequality
  • Art in exile and the creative diaspora
  • Regional conflict and its impact on the arts
  • Culture and violence
  • Private/public sponsorship and agenda setting
  • Cultural phenomena and the social impact of art
  • Underground arts in the Arab world
  • Cultural evolution and new media

Submissions for peer-review consideration should be received by October 25, 2016. All other submissions should be received by November 15, 2016.
We also welcome research and narrative writing; analysis and reviews of reports, policy, laws, and regulations; conference reports; and book and film reviews. Contributions can address any aspect of the intersection between media, politics, society and culture, and relate to the Arab world or its diaspora. While we encourage shorter pieces, submissions may be up to 10 000 words, including footnotes, and should conform to The Chicago Manual of Style.
Send articles and ideas to Sarah El-Shaarawi, Managing Editor,

Urban Space, Virtual Space, and the Media In Egypt

November 2, 2015

Tahrir Virtual SpaceWhat is “the geography of urban uprising during the so-called Arab Spring” and, particularly, what is the relationship between its physical and virtual locations?

That’s the question two scholars of urban planning at Berkeley seek to answer in a paper published In the most recent edition of the journal Urban Studies.

The spatial metaphor apart, this is an interesting article in that it attempts to examine, and analyze,  the relationships between the social media that organize gatherings and communicate political messages, the practices of protest in urban space and the magnifying power of global and national media. the authors argue that the dynamic relations between these three institutions–social media, urban protests and national media–transforms what happens in (to?) all three.

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“Revolutionary Egypt” Book Launch

October 22, 2015

london_middle_eastIf you are going to be in London next month–Nov. 17, to be precise–you might want to drop in on a panel at the London Middle East Institute entitled “Revolutionary Egypt: Four Years On.”

It’s a book launch for the book Revolutionary Egypt: Connecting Domestic and International Struggles (Routledge, 2015), in which I have a chapter.

I won’t be there, but you’ll hardly miss me because many more brilliant people will be there, including:

  • Reem Abou-El-Fadl (SOAS)
  • Charles Tripp (SOAS)
  • Miriyam Aouragh (Westminster)
  • Adam Hanieh (SOAS)
  • Nicola Pratt (Warwick)
  • Kerem Oktem (Graz)

The event will be held in the Khalili Lecture Theater in the Russell Square College Buildings of the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS). It begins at 5:30 and ends at 7:00 PM.

When We Assess Democracy In Egypt, Whose “Democracy” Are We Measuring?

September 15, 2015

“Bread, freedom, social justice!” What’s your definition of democracy?

Yesterday, after a lecture on ethnographic fieldwork, a student came up to me to discuss the anthropological concepts of ethnocentrism and relativism, which were first raised in an on-line lecture on the anthropological perspective, and then again yesterday in my discussion of methodology.

“What does an anthropologist do,” the student asked, “when you encounter a society that doesn’t recognize its own problems. For example, what if a society is oppressed, but doesn’t recognize that they are oppressed?”

I wondered if he was speaking of the United States, but it turned out he was thinking of–you guessed it–the Middle East.

If you ask people in the Middle East if they want democracy, they will say yes, he asserted. But if you ask them specific questions about each of the defining principles of democracy, they don’t actually want them.

“For example, if you ask them if they want gender equality, they’ll tell you no,” he said.

“What if instead of asking them whether they want gender equality, you were to ask them what they mean by democracy?” I asked.(And yes, I recognize the problem of his ready characterization of a monolithic “they” but…one thing at a time.)

“It seems to me that any definition of democracy must have gender equality as a fundamental component,” he replied

“Of course it seems that way to you,” I said. “You get to define democracy, and then you get to determine who fits your definition. That is exactly what the lecture refers to as ethnocentrism.”

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