Voicing Change. The Popular Subject of Protest Music in Revolutionary Cairo (2011-2013)


Abstract


Since the outbreak of protests in January 2011, arts have been central to the ongoing Egyptian revolution. In this article, I focus on protest music in Cairo in between 2011 and 2013 as a way to capture a specific interplay of popular culture and political engagement. Through examples of popular protest music and chants, I unpack the cultural and political construction of el sha'ab (the people) as a process in flux throughout the ongoing protests. Performances of popular protest music and chants in the square voiced grievances and pride, built solidarity, and helped shape the ideal of a unified and leaderless collective "we" against the oppressive regime. Older and newly composed protest songs articulated a genealogy of the revolutionary popular subject that was at once cultural and political. The last section reflects on the post-2013 era, focusing on the different political genealogy deployed by the state to redirect the revolutionary "popular will" into an authoritarian project.

Keywords: Egypt; Populism; Popular Music; Protest; Revolution

References


Abdalla K. (2013), “Masmou3: Audible/Heard/Listened to”, Jadaliyya, modified September 3, 2013, retrieved January 20, 2020 (https://www.jadaliyya.com/Details/29447).

Abd El Hameed Ibraheem D.A. (2015), Ultras Ahlawy and the Spectacle: Subjects, Resistance and Organized Football Fandom in Egypt (unpublished master’s thesis), Cairo: American University in Cairo.

Anderson B. (2006), Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism, London: Verso.

Anderson L. (2018), “Bread, Dignity and Social Justice: Populism in the Arab World”, Philosophy and Social Criticism, 44(4): 478–490, doi: 10.1177-0191453718757841.

Armbrust, W., 1992. “The National Vernacular: Folklore and Egyptian Popular Culture”, Michigan quarterly review, 31 (4), 525–542.

Armbrust W. (1996), Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Bayat A. (2000), “Social Movements, Activism and Social Development in the Middle East”, Civil Society and Social Movements Programme Paper 3, Geneva: United Nations Research Institute for Social Development .

Canovan M. (1999), “Trust the People! Populism and the Two Faces of Democracy”, Polit-ical Studies, 47 (1): 2–16, https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9248.00184.

Chalcraft J. (2016), Popular Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

De Certeau M. (1988), The Practice of Everyday Life, Berkeley: University of California Press.

El Hamamsy W. and M. Soliman (2013), Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, London: Routledge.

Gerbaudo P. (2012), Tweets and the Streets: Social Media and Contemporary Activism, London: Pluto Press.

Grippo, J. (2006), “The Fool Sings a Hero’s Song: Shaaban Abdel Rahim, Egyptian Shaabi, and the Video Clip Phenomenon”, Arab Media & Society, modified June 01, 2006, retrieved January 20, 2020 (https://www.arabmediasociety.com/the-fool-sings-a-heros-song-shaaban-abdel-rahim-egyptian-shaabi-and-the-video-clip-phenomenon/. Retrieved: 01/09/2019).

Gunning J. and I.Z. Baron (2013), Why Occupy a Square? People, Protests and Movements in the Egyptian Revolution, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jacob W.C. (2011), Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870–1940, Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Kandil H. (2016), “Interview: Sisi’s Egypt”, New Left Review, 102: 5–40.

Kandiyoti D. (2013), “Fear and Fury: women and post-revolutionary violence”, Open Democracy, modified January 10, 2013, retrieved January 20, 2020 (https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/5050/fear-and-fury-women-and-post-revolutionary-violence/).

Kunreuther L. (2014), Voicing Subjects: Public Intimacy and Mediation in Kathmandu, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Kunreuther L. (2018), “Sounds of Democracy: Performance, Protest, and Political Subjectivity”, Cultural Anthropology, 33(1): 1–31, doi: 10.14506-ca33.1.01.

Laclau E. (2005), On Populist Reason, London: Verso.

LeVine M. (2008), Heavy Metal Islam: Rock, Resistance, and the Struggle for the Soul of Islam, New York: Crown/Archetype.

LeVine M. (2012), “Music and the Aura of Revolution”, International Journal of Middle East Studies, 44(4): 794–797, doi:10.1017/S002074381200092X.

LeVine M. (2015), “When Art is the Weapon: Culture and Resistance Confronting Violence in the Post-Uprisings Arab World”, Religions, 6(4): 1277-1313, doi: 10.3390/rel6041277.

LeVine M. and B. Reynolds (2016), “Theater of Immediacy: Performance Activism and Art in the Arab Uprisings”, in K. van Nieuwekerk, M. LeVine, and M. Stokes (eds.), Islam and Popular Culture, Austin: University of Texas Press, pp. 58-77.

Manabe N. (2015), The Revolution Will Not Be Televised: Protest Music after Fukushima, New York: Oxford University Press.

Manabe N. (2017), “Responses to Peter Manuel’s ‘World Music and Activism Since the End of History’ [sic]”, Music and Politics, 11(1): 5–12, doi: 10.3998-mp.9460447.0011.102 .

Manabe N. (2019), “Chants of the Resistance: Flow, Memory, and Inclusivity”, Music and Politics, 13(1): 1–19, doi: 10.3998-mp.9460447.0013.105.

Mazzarella W. (2015), "Totalitarian Tears: Does the Crowd Really Mean It?”, Cultural Anthropology, 30 (1): 91–112, doi: 10.14506/ca30.1.06.

Mazzarella W. (2019), “The Anthropology of Populism: Beyond the Liberal Settlement”, Annual Review of Anthropology, 48(1): 45-60, https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-anthro-102218-011412.

Mehrez S. (2012), Translating Egypt's Revolution: The Language of Tahrir, Cairo: The American University in Cairo Press.

Mitchell T. (1991), Colonising Egypt: With a New Preface, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Navaro-Yashin Y. (2002), Faces of the State: Secularism and Public Life in Turkey, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Ostiguy P. (2017), “Populism: a socio-cultural approach”, in C.R. Kaltwasser, P.A. Taggart, P.A., P.O. Estejo, P. Ostiguy (eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Populism, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 73–97.

Peterson J. (2008), “Remixing songs, remaking Mulids: The merging spaces of dance music and saint festivals in Egypt”, in: G. Stauth, S. J. Schielke (eds.), Dimensions of Locality: Muslim Saints, Their Place and Space, Yearbook of the Sociology of Islam 8, Bielefeldt: Transcript Verlag, pp. 67-88.

Postill J. (2017), "Remote Ethnography: Studying Culture from Afar", in L. Hjorth, H. Horst, A. Galloway, G. Bell (eds.), The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography, New York and London: Routledge, pp. 61-69.

Sabry T. (2010), Cultural Encounters in the Arab World: On Media, the Modern and the Everyday, London: I.B.Tauris.

Samet R. (2019), “The Subject of Wrongs: Crime, Populism, and Venezuela’s Punitive Turn”, Cultural Anthropology, 34(2): 272–298, doi: 10.14506-ca34.2.05.

Sonevytsky M. (2016), “The Freak Cabaret on the Revolutionary Stage: On the Ambivalent Politics of Femininity, Rurality, and Nationalism in Ukrainian Popular Music", Journal of Popular Music, 28(3): 291–314, doi: 10.1111/jpms.12174.

Swedenburg T. (2012a), “Egypt’s Music of Protest”, Middle East Report, 265: 39–43.

Swedenburg T. (2012b), “Hip-Hop of the Revolution (The Sharif Don’t Like It)”, Middle East Report Online, retrieved January 20, 2020 (https://merip.org/2012/01/hip-hop-of-the-revolution/).

Tripp C. (2013a), “Art of the Uprisings in the Middle East”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, 19(2): 185–199.

Tripp C. (2013b), The Power and the People: Paths of Resistance in the Middle East, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Turino T. (2008), Music as Social Life: The Politics of Participation, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Turner V. (2017) [1969], The Ritual Process: Structure and Anti-Structure, London: Routledge.

Valassopoulos A. and D.S. Mostafa (2014), “Popular Protest Music and the 2011 Egyptian Revolution”, Popular Music and Society, 37(5): 638–659, doi: 10.1080-03007766.2014.910905.

Winegar J. (2006), Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt, Stanford: Stanford University Press.


Full Text: PDF

Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribuzione - Non commerciale - Non opere derivate 3.0 Italia License.