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


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.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i20356609v13i1p232

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


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