The reputation of the 25th January Revolution as a “media revolution” is in many ways warranted. The capacities of new media to confer agency on oppositional movements is prominent in the emerging historiography of 2011’s “Facebook Revolution.” While this label is not completely wrong, it also happens to be very incomplete. In fact, no single form of media played a determining role in the Revolution. It was interaction between a diverse range of media, both digital and traditional, from word of mouth to cinema and television, played a role in both the build-up to the Egyptian revolution and the event itself. Cultural messages played a significant role in the revolution, in diverse forms including protest songs, political jokes, cartoons, street chants and placards. Some of these messages drew on past struggles for dignity and social justice by invoking musicians and poets of previous generations to mobilize the current generation in the present struggle.
I will provide an overview of the ways a diverse range of media utilities were used as tools in paving the road to the fall of Mubarak, and to mobilize and shape the processes of the Egyptian revolution. I will focus on three media forms: Satellite TV, political cartoons and social media, exploring their capacity in engaging people, for or against the ruling regime. I will also discuss the role of cultural forms such as political jokes as expression of opposition and protest songs as expressions of inspiration, nostalgia and solidarity.
My talk is based on a part of my dissertation, “Media and Political Transitions in Egypt (2010 – 2013), submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in world history, Shandong Normal University, China.
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The speaker will present a 45-minute paper, followed by discussion and Q&A.