HOT SPOTS: REVOLUTION AND COUNTER-REVOLUTION IN EGYPT
Revolution and Counter-Revolution in Egypt a Year after January 25th
Guest Editors: Julia Elyachar (University of California, Irvine) and Jessica Winegar (Northwestern University)
On January 25, 2011, Egyptians from all social backgrounds marched to public squares across Egypt and began an 18 day revolution that captivated the world. Calls rang out in Tahrir for “Dignity, Freedom, and Social Justice.” Stereotypes of Arabs as apathetic and politically backward crumbled as Tunisians and then Egyptians (and now countless others) led the world in the first post-Cold War revolution against the world’s growing inequalities. Arabs were once portrayed as kowtowing to kings and authoritarian leaders, but now they are revolting against them. Women and men, young and old, city dwellers and rural people joined together and fought the political and economic systems that oppressed them.
The Egyptian revolution neither began nor ended in those 18 days before Mubarak stepped down. As anthropologists struggled, like many Egyptians and academic observers, to make sense of an overwhelming set of events, they drew on their fieldwork experiences from past decades to show how the revolution was rooted in long-standing day-to-day struggles for food, jobs, security, and dignity, as well as in years of organizing and activism among various groups--most notably labor and Islamic collectives.
On this first anniversary of the “official” beginning of the Egyptian revolution, we find an ever more complex, and constantly shifting, social and political landscape. The military regime and gerontocracy remains entrenched, cutting deals with the older leadership Muslim Brotherhood, which recently took the lion’s share of seats in Parliament. For many Egyptians, the revolution is not over. As the one-year anniversary demonstrations showed, they have not given up on their clear set of demands to overthrow the broader regime and to regain dignity in their lives. For others, notably Islamists, the revolution brought tangible victories and the ability to speak and congregate freely for the first time in thirty years. In the eyes of some, especially those on the precarious edge of the wage economy, the revolution brought instability and “social chaos” and may not have been worth it. Anthropologists trying to make sense of these complex shifts in society, and to support Egyptians in their struggle, find themselves having to rework the tools of their discipline and what it means to be an anthropologist. These issues, and more, are discussed by the authors of the pieces in this Hot Spot.
This Hot Spot was originally conceived by the editors of Cultural Anthropology during the events of January-February 2011, when most observers and participants were far more optimistic than today about a speedy transformation of power in Egypt. Through no fault of the editors, it took much longer to put these pieces together, for reasons we discuss in some of the articles that follow, especially in Elyachar and Sabea. As it turns out, we believe that the outcome is much stronger than it would have been a year ago. Just this week, as we finally began to post these pieces, events again took a tragic turn. 74 Egyptians were recently killed in a soccer stadium, in what most Egyptians call a massacre (magzara), due to the widespread perception that they were planned or at least facilitated by the army and police, in part to take revenge on the role of soccer fan clubs in the ongoing revolution. These most recent events are not discussed in the Hot Spot. But by reading what follows, we hope that you will gain a much better sense of what is underway in Egypt and the region, learn more about the challenges posed by the massive revolts of the past year around the world for the writing of ethnography, and know more about where to turn for information and analysis of Egypt and the region. As editors of the Hot Spot, we thank everyone who took the time to dare to write about so much that is so uncertain, and for the help and cooperation of our colleagues at Jadaliyya and American Ethnologist as well as to the editors of Cultural Anthropology, Charles Piot and Anne Allison, and its managing editor, Alison Kenner, for their endless patience and immense help.
(Top Image: "Do not let your revolution be stolen." Photo by Omnia Ibrahim. Published in "Messages From Tahrir" edited by Karima Khalil, 2011)
Video: "The Women of Tahrir" by Yasmin Moll
From the AAA panel, “Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa: Anthropological Perspectives” -- Abridged versions of three papers
Writing the Revolution: Dilemmas of Ethnographic Writing after the January 25th revolution in Egypt
Julia Elyachar, University of California, Irvine
Building the New Egypt: Islamic Televangelists, Revolutionary Ethics, and ‘Productive’ Citizenship
Yasmin Moll, New York University
A “Time out of Time”: Tahrir, the Political and the Imaginary in the context of the January 25th Revolution in Egypt
Hanan Sabea, American University in Cairo
The Ambivalence of Martyrs and the Counter-revolution
Walter Armbrust, University of Oxford
The Politics/Pragmatics/Theoretics of Writing
Academic Tourists Sight-Seeing the Arab Spring
Mona Abaza, American University in Cairo
Reflections on the Egyptian Revolution
Reem Saad, American University in Cairo
Conversation on the Egyptian Revolution
Yasmin Moll, New York University
Writing Anthropology of and for the Revolution
Samuli Schielke, Zentrum Moderner Orient
Jadaliyya: A New Form of Producing and Presenting Knowledge in/of the Middle East (Interview by Julia Elyachar)
Bassam Hadad, George Mason University
The Revolution from Beirut, Tehran, and the Way Home
“Do we need the army's helping hand?” Le Monde Diplomatique, English Edition. October 14, 2011.
Niloofar Haeri, Johns Hopkins University
Watching Cairo from Beirut
Joanne Randa Nucho, University of California, Irvine
Fieldnotes, Airplane Ride Back
Sherine Hamdy, Brown University
Views from the Street
Public Christianity in a Revolutionary Egypt
Anthony Shenoda, Scripps College
The Real Tragedy Behind the Fire of Institut d’Egypte
Khaled Fahmy, American University in Cairo
The Battle of Cairo’s Muhammad Mahmoud Street
Lucie Ryzova, University of Oxford
AMERICAN ETHNOLOGIST Vol. 39 No. 1 (February 2012) ***Free Access***
Forum: Egypt’s 2011 revolt
Living the “revolution” in an Egyptian village: Moral action in a national space
Reflections on secularism, democracy, and politics in Egypt
HUSSEIN ALI AGRAMA
No longer a bargain: Women, masculinity, and the Egyptian uprising
Strength and vulnerability after Egypt’s Arab Spring uprisings
SHERINE F. HAMDY
Beyond secular and religious: An intellectual genealogy of Tahrir Square
Sectarian conflict and family law in contemporary Egypt
The Egyptian revolution: A triumph of poetry
The privilege of revolution: Gender, class, space, and affect in Egypt
"Our Revolution Continues"
"Martyrs of the Egyptian Revolution"
(The following video shows the sacrifice of Egypt's martyrs for their revolution: the fight from January through the present moment, against Mubarak, his police state, the army, and SCAF. A complete list of the names of the fallen is provided at the end of the film.)
The Mosireen Collective
YouTube link to the Mosireen Collective, "a non-profit media collective born out of the explosion of citizen journalism and cultural activism in Egypt during the revolution."
"The Current Media Landscape in Egypt: An Interview with Hossam El HamaLawy" Jadaliyya, January 21, 2012
ANTHROPOLOGICAL WRITINGS ABOUT EGYPT SINCE JANUARY 25TH (BIBLIOGRAPHY)
Compiled by Michael Wenzel, Northwestern University
Abu-Lughod, Lila. 2012. "Living the “revolution” in an Egyptian Village: Moral action in a National Space." American Ethnologist 39(1): 21-25.
Abul-Magd, Zaynab. 2011. "The Army and the Economy in Egypt." Jadaliyya. December 23. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3732/the-army-and-the-economy-in-egypt
Agrama, Hussein Ali. 2012. "Reflections on secularism, democracy, and politics in Egypt." American Ethnologist 39(1): 26-31
Ambrust, Walter. 2011. "The Revolution Against Neoliberalism." Jadaliyya. February 23. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/717
Beeman, William O. 2011. "Why an Islamic Government in Egypt Might Not Be So Terrible." New America Media, February 1. http://newamericamedia.org/2011/02/islamic-government-in-egypt-might-not-be-so-terrible.php
Ghannam, Farha. 2012. "Meanings and Feelings: Local interpretations of the use of violence in the Egyptian revolution." American Ethnologist 39(1): 32-36.
Ghannam, Farha. 2011. "Space and resistance." The Immanent Frame. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/02/08/space-and-resistance/
Gilman, Daniel. 2011. "Why Tamer Hosny Won't Go Away." Jadaliyya, April 19. www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1290/
Hafez, Sherine. 2012. "No Longer a Bargain: Women, masculinity, and the Egyptian uprising." American Ethnologist 39(1): 37-42.
Hamdy, Sherine. 2012. "Strength and vulnerability after Egypt’s Arab Spring uprisings." American Ethnologist 39(1): 43-48.
Hania, Sholkamy. 2011. "Days in Cairo: Thoughts from the Midan." Anthropology of the Middle East 6(1): 98-102(5).
Hirschkind, Charles. 2012. "Beyond Secular and Religious: An intellectual genealogy of Tahrir Square." American Ethnologist 39(1): 49-53.
Hirschkind, Charles. 2011. "From the Blogosphere to the Street: The Role of Social Media in the Egyptian Uprising." Jadaliyya, February 9. www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/599/
Kazam, Azza. 2011. "Reclaiming Dignity: Arab Revolutions of 2011." Anthropology News, 52: 19.
Iskander, Adel. 2012. "A Year in the Life of Egypt’s Media: A 2011 Timeline." Jadaliyya. January 26. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/3642/a-year-in-the-life-of-egypts-media_a-2011-timeline
Leins, Stefan. 2011. "Pricing the Revolution: Financial Analysts Respond to the Egyptian Uprising." Anthropology Today 27(4): 11-14.
Lindsay, Ursula. 2012. "Egyptian Scholars Struggle to Protect Country’s History Amidst New Violence." The Chronicle of Higher Education, January 15.
Mahmood, Saba. 2012. :Sectarian conflict and family law in contemporary Egypt." American Ethnologist 39(1): 54-62.
Mahmood, Saba. 2011. "The Architects of the Egyptian Uprising and the Challenges Ahead." Jadaliyya, Februrary 14. www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/645/
Mikadashi, Maya. 2011. "Neoliberalism’s Forked Tongue." Jadaliyya, May 17. www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1606/
Mikdashi, Maya and R.M. 2011. "Gays, Islamists, and The Arab Spring: What Would a Revolutionary Do?" Jadaliyya, June 11. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1836/
Rashed, M.A. and Islam El Azzazi. 2011. "The Egyptian Revolution: A Participant’s Account From Tahrir Square January and February 2011." Anthropology Today 27(2): 22-27
Saad, Reem. 2012. "The Egyptian Revolution: A Triumph of Poetry." American Ethnologist 39(1): 63-66.
Schielke, Samuli. 2011. "You’ll Be Late for the Revolution!’ An Anthropologist’s Diary of the Egyptian Revolution." http://samuliegypt.blogspot.com/
Schneider, Nathan. 2011. "Religious liberty, minorities, and Islam: an interview with Saba Mahmood." The Immanent Frame. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/08/17/religious-liberty-minorities-and-islam/
Schneider, Nathan. 2011. "The suspicious revolution: an interview with Talal Asad." The Immanent Frame. http://blogs.ssrc.org/tif/2011/08/03/the-suspicious-revolution-interview-with-talal-asad/
Shahine, S.H. 2011. "Youth and the Revolution in Egypt." Anthropology Today 27(2): 1-3.
Shenoda, Anthony. 2011. "Reflections on the (In)Visibility of Copts in Egypt." Jadaliyya, May 18. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1624/
Sholkamy, Hania. 2012. "The Jaded Gender and Development Paradigm of Egypt." IDS Bulletin 43: 94–98.
Swedenburg, Ted. 2011. "Troubadours of Revolt." Middle East Report 41(258): 18-19.
Tabishat Mohammed. 2011. "وما نيل الطالب: ربيع العرب في زمن اختلاف المواسم." Jadaliyya. June 9. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1807/ (accessed September 8, 2011).
Waked Mohamed. 2011. "الانتخابات اولا: شعار مفرغ من المضمون." Jadaliyya. June 29. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/2005/ (accessed September 8, 2011).
Waked Mohamed. 2011. "المجلس الاعلى يقر قانون طوارئ اضافي". Jadaliyya. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/1320/ (accessed September 8, 2011).
Waked Mohamed. 2011. "حملة الصويت ب نعم بين الجهل و تدليس الثورة المضادة." Jadaliyya. March 18. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/941/ (accessed September 8, 2011).
Waked Mohamed. 2011. "محمد محسن, شهيد غير عادي." Jadaliyya. August 19. http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/2429/ (accessed September 8, 2011).
Winegar, Jessica. 2012. "The Privilege of Revolution: Gender, class, space, and affect in Egypt." American Ethnologist 39(1): 67-70.
Winegar, Jessica. 2011. "Egypt: A Multi-Generational Revolt." Jadaliyya, February 21. www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/703/ (accessed September 4, 2011).
Winegar, Jessica. 2011. "Taking Out the Trash: Youth Clean Up Egypt After Mubarak." Middle East Report 41(259): 32-35.