PUBLIC BOOKS | Go to current issue

Public Culture

An interdisciplinary journal of transnational cultural studies

You are viewing a news item. Join our mailing list or see more news.

Brian T. Edwards

20 July 2011

These are confusing times in Cairo … and the greater Middle East. To write from within a revolution for publication months hence, when some now dominant strands may recede and others that might prevail are barely visible at present, is necessarily perilous. Perhaps, I tell myself, it has the merit of freezing a moment, taking a snapshot from down below in the crowded square without the chance to climb to a higher vantage. Without the aperture of retrospective history, there is a kind of freedom. Narrative tahrir (liberation).

Cairo was already filled with millions of voices, almost always loud, marked by a hisa that seemed its most overwhelming characteristic. Hisa, a word from Egyptian dialect, means more than noise. It means chaos, the hectic, and the frenetic, all in one. Zahma, another crucial word, means more than traffic. It means a standstill, a blockage. In Cairo, one learns to navigate between hisa and zahma, not to become overwhelmed by the one or overly depressed by the other. It’s a dangerous opposition. Finally, in late January and February 2011, the balance shifted.

In March 2011, when I returned to Cairo for the fifth time in two and a half years, the hisa was yet more pronounced. But the zahma that had been the key to comprehending the city in the last decade of Hosni Mubarak’s rule had become unblocked by a massive will of the people. When traffic came to a standstill, which of course it still did, it no longer signified the stagnation of Egyptian society within the state of emergency.1 Now as you sat in traffic, you guessed that there was a demonstration somewhere on your route. If you were passing through downtown, you were usually correct.

Mubarak was gone, shouted out of Tahrir Square after eighteen days of mass mobilization, ending his three decades at the helm of power. Because of the midnight to 6 a.m. curfew enforced in the city, however, there was also at times an unfamiliar silence in this city of 20 million. Or a relative one anyway, to be replaced by the sound of keystrokes and mouse clicks, as a late-night city moved from the sidewalk cafés back online: reading, tweeting, linking, and updating.

A month after Mubarak’s departure, Tahrir Square had returned to its regular business as a major traffic roundabout, now decorated with revolutionary graffiti and tributes to those who died for the cause. Friends pointed out where the makeshift hospital had been set up in the grassy area near the Mugamma, the massive government office building; where they had stood on which days; and the place on the 6th October Bridge from which snipers had shot into the crowd. They showed me the missing section of sidewalk in front of the Tahrir Hardee’s and explained how the square tiles had been lifted and broken into pieces to be hurled. In the first days after my return, there were marathon conversations with old friends who had so much to tell about the previous weeks.

My conversation with Muhammad Aladdin, a prominent young novelist, moved from accounts of the exhilaration of occupying Tahrir Square to philosophizing. “There is some kind of liquidity in the world,” he told me, “of thoughts, techniques, perspectives.” We were sitting outdoors in the evening talking about circulation; we were talking about the revolution; we were talking about literature. “Our problem now is we are mixing fundamental truths, the old world and the new world, with how society is changing. We are using ideas from the old world ironically.” He paused: “Like Suleiman saying people are not yet ready in Egypt for democracy and ElBaredei saying we should postpone the elections.”2

Demonstrations were still common downtown. The state television building was the scene of daily protests. I witnessed a couple of marches outside the interior ministry, which caught fire one afternoon while I was downtown near Talat Harb Square (the initial assumption was that it was an act of arson by protesting workers, but then the official explanation was “electrical problems”). Tanks were still in place and soldiers stood behind mounted machine guns, though there were many fewer than during the crucial eighteen days from January 25 to February 11. Outside the television building, and at a demonstration of Egyptian Copts along the Nile, soldiers surrounded or cordoned off protesters with their bodies, enforced perimeters with bayonets, automatic weapons, and Tasers.

Shortly after I arrived in Cairo, the detested State Security Investigation Service (’Amn al-dawla), notorious for its harsh tactics, was suspended. Many Egyptians rejoiced, though more than a few wondered whether the security apparatus established in its place (the National Security Force) would be a new name for an old problem. On March 24, word got out that all demonstrations had been outlawed—especially those that affected traffic. On March 25, there was a demonstration against the antidemonstration law.

At the moment, writing about the revolution is everywhere: blogs, Twitter, Facebook updates, news and culture websites, and articles in the daily newspapers and weekly magazines that fill Cairo newsstands. You meet your friends in a café for breakfast, and they ask: “What have you heard? I didn’t go online this morning.”

The irony of the curfew is that it might succeed in getting people off the streets and out of downtown, but in so doing it delivers them back to the Internet. I am evidently not the only one who does not go straight to bed after curfew. Many of my friends are on Facebook through the night, as are those I follow on Twitter, a steady stream of tweets and links. Active public discussions and debates about the meaning of what is taking place during the day carry on in cyberspace long after curfew.

I arrive a week before a major referendum on March 19—whether or not to amend the constitution, as proposed by the army—and the city is abuzz with a vibrant discussion of whether to vote yes or no in what is proclaimed within Egypt to be the first free and fair voting in memory. Much of the discussion is in traditional venues: I attend a discussion of constitutional law by Egyptian legal scholars at a downtown nongovernmental organization (NGO), pick up handbills and see flyers posted on walls for both positions on the referendum, and read editorials in the daily papers. The cafés are filled and loud with debate.

But there are also 140-character arguments by members of the recently dubbed “Twitterati” and discussions in Facebook groups and on blogs. Cairene cyberspace is crowded. Sandmonkey, a newly famous Twitterati member who has identified himself as Mahmoud Salem, argues, “If the army doesn’t crack down and abides, u will have scored major points with the people, and retained ur status with them. #jan25.” And then, a minute later: “Either way, u win. But u can’t win unless u address the economy, and this is where the minimum wage is a priority. #jan25 #yarab7adyefham.” With sometimes opaque cross-references, hashtags (indicated by the symbol #) that index strands of conversations, and condensed arguments, the tweets presuppose a significant amount of knowledge of the ongoing discussion. On March 16, for example, Etharkamal (Ethar al-Katatney, another major presence on Twitter) sends a “retweet” to her list of followers, the forwarding on of a message from one of those she herself is following; it references one of her own previous arguments: “RT @tarekmmd: @etharkamal I really want to say Yay. But the 189 and 189 repeated makes it a Nay. Catch-22 that can undo everything if challenged in court.” You must be attending closely, you must be close at hand, to follow the most heated discussions on Twitter.

The role of the Internet is an aspect of the Egyptian revolution that Egyptians and outsiders alike have remarked on excessively. Yet I am determined not to fall into the trap of calling this a digital revolution. Too much blood was spilled in Tahrir; too much happened during those six days when the Internet was turned off by the government (January 27—February 2) for one to accept the account that pits the technologies of globalization against the “medieval” tactics of the Mubarak regime. BBC Arabic is pithy: “The revolution of laptops versus camels,” a phrase repeated by an Egyptian magazine in an article titled “The ‘LOL’ Revolution.” (The camel reference is to February 2—quickly dubbed “Black Wednesday”—when forces loyal to President Mubarak rode horses and camels into a crowded Tahrir Square, wielding whips and sticks, and beat demonstrators brutally.)

Putting the Internet in this privileged position, it seems to me, effaces or downplays the bravery and the spontaneous organization of Egyptian demonstrators by implicitly giving credit to the West for inventing technologies that created the wave of demonstrations in early 2011, from Casablanca to Damascus. In the several months before the Tahrir uprisings, mainstream American publications such as Foreign Affairs, the New Yorker, and the New York Times Magazine had variously discussed and debated the role of social networking media in effecting change, and reported on efforts within the US State Department to try to harness the power of these media. The winter and spring revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa seemed to confirm this technocentric understanding.

The conversation reminds me of early Cold War discussions of media, and of Daniel Lerner’s massive 1958 book, The Passing of Traditional Society: Modernizing the Middle East, in particular. Lerner, who drew on extensive Middle East field research (only some of it done by himself), traced the ways in which both “the grocer and the chief,” in his famous excerpt published in Harper’s under that title in 1955, responded to the arrival of the forms and technologies of modernity. As Middle East historian James Gelvin argued decades later, Lerner thought that democracy and prosperity would come to the region “if only everyone in the region could broaden their horizons with a transistor radio.”3 Lerner’s reduction of a complex region to its inhabitants’ response to modern communication technologies is echoed in much of the current discussion of the role of social networking media.

Not to account for the role of the digital age, and of social media, however, would be wrong too. As Tunisian youth sparked their own revolution in December 2010–January 2011, leading to the flight of longtime autocrat Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, their Egyptian peers watched on satellite TV and live Internet streams, and followed via Facebook groups and tweets from Tunisia. One young Egyptian writer tells me that he and his generation were “jealous” of Tunisia in the first weeks of January. And what had seemed impossible to many in Egypt just a few months before—despite oppositional movements and stillborn protests earlier in the decade, such as the Kefaya movement of 2004 and 2005—took flight in Egypt with a speed and energy that even those who came to Tahrir Square on January 25 did not expect.

So much seems contingent: January 25 was a Tuesday, thus normally a workday. But since January 25 is a national holiday in Egypt (Police Day), those youth who would call themselves #Jan25 (the Twitter hashtag denoting a way to follow posts or tweets on the theme) could call for a protest against the very police who were to be honored on a national day of rest. And there was just the right amount of time—not more, not less— for the demonstrations that began on the first Tuesday to build until Friday (the first day of the weekend in Egypt), and from there to grow exponentially.

“January 25 was a surprise for everybody,” Hamdi Abu Golayyel, an Egyptian novelist born in 1967, tells me at the offices of his publisher, Dar Merit, just a block from Tahrir Square. “It’s hard to trace to specific elements. I was in Tahrir from the beginning and I was surprised. This is the greatness of it. It had no leader. Each person was a leader.”

When the Internet was shut off by an anxious regime on Thursday, January 27, it did not kill the movement. Instead, the sense of being cut off from their sources of information led many back out to the street, and especially to Tahrir. With the Internet down, several told me, there was nowhere else to go but outdoors. Anyone who has experienced the frustration of a slow Internet connection can understand what digital zahma—a total blockage—might do to provoke physical motion.

In the US media, however, social networking media and digital technologies were championed as pivotal. This extended the interpretation that had been used to explain the so-called Green Movement in Iran in 2009, when American commentators highlighted the use of Twitter and cell-phone videos published on Facebook by young Iranians protesting the legitimacy of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory in the June presidential election. In February 2011, writing about Cairo, the New York Times ran a story on its front page about an Egyptian who named his newborn daughter “Facebook” to celebrate the role of the site in the new revolution. Another front- page story lionized Google’s Egyptian chief, Wael Ghonim, and his authorial role in staging the revolution via Facebook groups.

There is some important truth about the role that the technologies of the digital revolution played in the series of uprisings that spread from Tunisia, to Egypt, and then quickly around the Arab world, from Libya to Morocco and Syria to Yemen. The digitally mediated circulation of images, rhetoric, and advice across the region indeed played a significant role. Egyptian activists told me that their Tunisian counterparts had posted on Facebook groups practical advice about how to combat tear gas and other tips useful for effective revolutionary activity.

Unwittingly, however, by telling the story this way, American commentators were taking a stand in a debate that has been played out in the pages of Public Culture for nearly a decade, and one that may help us see the interplay of global and local with more nuance. Let me reduce that debate to a sentence: should cultural critics who are attentive to the rapid and transnational circulation of images, ideas, and public forms focus on the circulation itself, how it happens, what circulates, and so forth, or on the more local meanings that adhere to or emerge from, or are hidden by, these forms in motion. For me, a reader of literary works, it is difficult to give up the text, even while I am persuaded that the ways in which cultural forms are abstracted and move exceptionally rapidly in the digital age must delimit or put pressure on its “meaning.”

Benjamin Lee and Edward LiPuma argued here, in 2002: “Circulation is a cultural process with its own forms of abstraction, evaluation, and constraint, which are created by the interactions between specific types of circulating forms and the interpretive communities built around them.”4 These “structured circulations,” as Lee and LiPuma called them, allowed for a way toward understanding forms of collective agency that emerge from within a “new stage in the history of capitalism,” namely, circulation-based capitalism, or what many call simply globalization.5

Responding to this argument, Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar and Elizabeth A. Povinelli suggested in 2003 that the analysis of cultural texts and public events and practices should be recalibrated if circulation is to be taken seriously (which they believe it must be). They warned that critics might be tempted to interpret for their meanings texts that are imbued with the social—the great Durkheimian tradition of reading culture as a text that, decoded, might explain its society—but that they should instead pay attention to the “dynamic transfiguration of forms across circulatory matrices.”6 The “temptation of reading for meaning” should be resisted, Gaonkar and Povinelli argued, and in its place critics ought to pay greater attention to “the proliferating copresence of varied textual/cultural forms in all their mobility and mutability.”7 This insight seems especially pertinent as a way to interpret the use of Twitter by the #Jan25 Egyptians. With all their embedded hashtags, cross-references, and compressed arguments, one cannot read their tweets merely for meaning. There are arguments, of course, positions taken, sometimes extended over multiple tweets in sequence. Personalities emerge, and information is shared. But it is impossible to read these tweets without attending to the 140-character form in which they are composed and circulated. Gaonkar suggests that the movement and the motion of these tweets is an “effect of the compression of meaning.” That the tweet is “a form that calls forth an immediate, almost unmediated response, point, counterpoint, and so on.”8

It seems worthwhile to remind ourselves of this debate in the context of Egypt in 2011 not only because it has not yet registered outside academic discussions, but also because we have still to grapple with how to read the text—and as I’ll suggest below, contemporary literature—in the context of cultures of circulation. Twenty-first-century Egyptian fiction provides a compelling case for what we might learn in the process.

Whether to read for motion or read for meaning? A familiar quandary for literary scholars interested in adaptations of texts in new national or temporal contexts (Shakespeare in Korea, Lolita in Tehran).9 How to do both? As a teacher, I have been trying for some time to make sense of how literary texts function in the context of globalization—to develop an account of the use of literary or cultural forms developed in one part of the world but adapted, sampled, or remade in another. I have been particularly drawn to new Egyptian writing of the 2000s. For the past couple of years, I have been coming to Cairo to try to understand literary creativity within zahma, that metaphor for the social and political blockage of Egypt in the first decade of this century. Formally, borrowing from global forms and language (the graphic novel, the serious comic, the vocabulary and spelling of TXT messaging, as recalibrated in Arabic), much new Egyptian literature seems to refract circulation- based capitalism in startlingly original ways. But in so doing, the strongest texts express a young Egyptian consciousness, mediated by the technologies and landscapes of global culture yet at the same time local—by which I mean stubbornly national—and difficult to translate.

What are the ends of circulation? Does the digitally enabled circulation of revolutionary images, ideas, and even advice—and in literary production of forms, genres, motifs—end in places like Cairo, where it is incorporated into a local idiom and national context? Or is it precisely the abstraction and compression of representations of local meanings—a necessary precondition for forms to make their way across publics, from one node in the circulatory matrix to another—that allows them to flow globally, where they might achieve various ends?

There is a play of words in my title, a pun on the ends of circulation, since I cannot yet resolve this question. This lack of resolution—the double meaning of “ends”—is of course my point. In Egypt, global forms in circulation often meet an endpoint, a dead end, from which they are difficult to translate back into global circulation. In the summer of 2009, when I suggested to the Cairo dialect poet and young literary essayist Omar Taher that I might translate for American publication the opening chapter of his influential Shaklaha bazet—a work several young Cairo-based writers had informed me was so important to their work—he told me it would be impossible to translate; no one outside Egypt would understand it, loaded with references to both transnational cultural products and unfungible local Egyptian ones. (I did so, anyway, and included it in the “Cairo Portfolio” I edited for A Public Space in fall 2009, heavily annotated, killing the humor in the process.)10 Creativity such as this may end in Egyptian fiction—it may not be able to circulate beyond it—yet it surely has an end: it has been useful, even productive, in creating a new Egyptian reading public.

Within the zahma of Cairo in the 2000s, the references to and borrowings from global culture and its forms became literary techniques and modes of survival. A cohort of young writers—and their readers—figured the balance between zahma and hisa, stasis and a noisy mobility, and eventually shifted that balance. These writers were not the central players in this revolution with no heroes, but neither were they outside it.

And so, a month after Mubarak resigned I returned to Cairo to talk to the Egyptian writers and comic artists I had profiled fifteen months earlier, a young generation that came of age with the explosion of digital media. In the late summer of 2009, I had written about what one of them (Ahmed Alaidy) had called “the ‘I’ve-got-nothing-left-to- lose generation’” and the mix of political satire, ironic rapportage on daily life of Cairene youth, and literary innovation that was issuing from writers in their midtwenties to midthirties. Their youths were marked by what Taher called the “shock of multimedia.”11

Writers like Alaidy (b. 1974) brought cyberpunk and text messaging into the Arabic- language Egyptian novel, upsetting previous generations of Egyptian novelists and literary critics, while speaking clearly to a young generation of readers. The comic artist Magdy El Shafee, whose 2008 Metro was by most accounts the first graphic novel in Egypt, subjected to a ban and a long censorship trial, conjoined a transnational visual vocabulary (part manga, part Alan Moore, part Egyptian urban punk), offering in the process a dark vision of the corrupt metropolis.

These writers—in addition to Taher, Alaidy, and El Shafee, I am referring to Mansoura Ez Eldin, Ahmed Nagy, Muhammad Aladdin, Khalid Kassab, and others— both created and addressed a young readership that was tired to death of Egyptian social zahma. To be sure, the new technologies of the digital age played a starring role, one that both fueled the portrayal of urban stagnation and brought a range of global influences into narratives that were particularly Egyptian in concerns and audience. Both the young generation of writers and their young readers emerged from a shared fund of Egyptian and global culture that marked their youth (and which Taher catalogs in the “untranslatable” manifesto that opens his most famous book). The Mickey Mouse comics they read as children, and the spy and sci-fi novels by Egyptian writers Nabil Farouq and Ahmed Khaled Toufiq they read as adolescents, led to a common set of references (both generic and formal) that allowed for the creation of a public, in Michael Warner’s sense of it.12 Their public has now come of age powerfully.

Without the Internet, Nagy says, this generation wouldn’t have been anything. Nagy, born in 1985—the author of Rogers (a novel, organized around verses from Pink Floyd’s The Wall, that he tells me tried to “represent the imagination of the teenager,” by which he surely means a teenager obsessed with global culture but also stuck in Cairene reality) and a book on new media called Blogs from Post to Tweet—sits with me at a café near the Cairo stock exchange. He stresses that the Internet should not get all the credit for the revolution, but that it did allow a new generation to broaden its cultural palette. “Egypt is controlled by the social, the traditional,” he tells me. “But the only time you could be alone, to state your opinion, was on the Internet, using a nickname.” He wisely reminds me that such freedom empowered more conservative voices as well, such as Islamists, but that nonetheless it serves the function of connecting like-minded individuals who might not otherwise meet.

Nagy was one of the writers of the generation of the 2000s who were active in the revolution, he more so than many of his peers, via an important and well-read blog. Still, as we speak, and despite his youth, he wonders whether the generation that follows his own might find the same space for dialogue that he and his cohort found on the Internet. Justin Bieber—the Canadian pop star whose fame grew exponentially because of his use of Twitter and social networking—is a big star in Egypt, he notes, and Nagy’s younger siblings use the Internet for online video games and celebrity worship. Nagy sees this as a sign that the Internet may not have the same liberating effect on his younger siblings’ generation that it did on his own. Still, he finds reason to be optimistic: “Finding other people is the most important thing.”

Nagy’s comment makes me recall the comment that Fadi Awad, a young critic and editor, one of Nagy’s contemporaries, relayed to me a few days earlier. He told me of walking to Tahrir with a prominent blogger on January 28, when it had become clear that something big was happening. “I guess our job is over,” the blogger told Awad, by which, the latter explained, he meant that the job of encouraging young people to revolution had succeeded. This was a blogger speaking, yet Awad connects it to the literary work of the 2000s writers.

Several of the writers of the 2000s generation admit to now pausing, reconsidering what their literary work of the future may look like. Revolution is not always conducive to the composition of novels. Some of these writers did contribute editorials or short essays to newspapers, and many were active on Facebook and Twitter, where they already had large followings.13 El Shafee published a one- page comic online commemorating the action in its immediate aftermath.14 But it is a time to take stock. Ez Eldin, a celebrated young novelist born in 1976, tells me, “I stopped writing my new novel.” She explains why: “The protagonist is a young woman in her twenties. This means she is from the generation that made the revolution. I now see this generation in a new way. I need more time to rebuild the character.” In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on February 6, 2011, Alaidy made a similar comment: “I had been working on a novel about a future revolution, picturing the day the people finally went against the regime. I imagined crowds, how the regime would provoke people and how the people would snap, step by step. Pure fiction. I will have to rewrite it.”15

On the evening of the constitutional referendum, I sit again with Aladdin, in a downtown café called Horreya. Waiting for the results of the historic referendum, we learn that ElBaradei has been pelted with stones at his polling station, and then that the United States has begun bombing Libya. “I am pessimistic; I am optimistic,” he has been telling me for days. I know that he is pessimistic tonight. Then he adds, “But these are the best days for Egypt.” Let us hope that by the time this essay is published, they have not receded.

—Cairo, March 27, 2011

I would like to thank Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, Stephen Twilley, Plaegian Alexander, and Eric Klinenberg for reading a late draft of this essay and providing helpful editorial comments and suggestions. In Cairo, my thanks to Hamdi Abu Golayyel, Muhammad Aladdin, Nadim Audi, Fadi Awad, Humphrey Davis, Magdy El Shafee, Nael Eltoukhy, Mansoura Ez Eldin, Ahmed Nagy, Leri Price, and Bahaa Taher, among many others, for discussing the events preceding my trip to Cairo in March 2011, and for helping me understand what was happening while I was there.

    1. I was not alone in associating the experience of driving through Cairo with Cairo’s political stasis. See Khaled al Khamissi, Taxi, trans. Jonathan Wright (London: Aflame, 2008); originally published in 2007 in Cairo br Dar El Shorouk. Taxi, a series of vignettes composed by the Egyptian journalist as he spoke to Cairo’s taxi drivers, was a best seller in Egypt. See also Charles Hirschkind, The Ethical Soundscape: Cassette Sermons and Islamic Counterpublics (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). The latter offers a powerful account of patterns of attention among drivers as they layered a range of sound tracks over Cairo’s hisa.
    2. Omar Suleiman was named vice president of Egypt on January 29, 2011. On Monday, February 7, he was quoted as saying that Egypt was not ready for democracy. Mohamed ElBaradei, the Egyptian-born Nobel Peace Prize winner and former director of the United Nations International Atomic Energy Agency, returned to Egypt from his home in Vienna on January 27, 2011. He was considered a leading advocate for reform and potential presidential candidate.
    3. James Gelvin, “Globalization, Religion and the State in the Middle East: The Current Crisis in Historical Perspective,” Global Development Studies 3, nos. 3–4 (2003–4): 2.
    4. Benjamin Lee and Edward LiPuma, “Cultures of Circulation: The Imaginations of Modernity,” Public Culture 14 (2002): 192.
    5. Ibid., 210.
    6. Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar and Elizabeth A. Povinelli, “Technologies of Public Forms: Circulation, Transfiguration, Recognition,” Public Culture 15 (2003): 388.
    7.Ibid., 391.
    8. Dilip Parameshwar Gaonkar, personal communication, April 16, 2011.
    9. I take this question up in Brian T. Edwards, “Logics and Contexts of Circulation,” in A Companion to Comparative Literature, ed. Ali Behdad and Dominic Thomas (Oxford: Blackwell, 2011), 454–72.
    10. Brian T. Edwards, “Cairo 2010: After Kefaya,” introduction to “Cairo Portfolio,” A Public Space, no. 9 (2009): 127–32. The portfolio (127–75) included work by Muhammad Aladdin, Ahmed Alaidy, Ibrahim El Batout, Mansoura Ez Eldin, Mohamed El Fakhrany, Khalid Kassab, Magdy El Shafee, and Omar Taher.
    11. The first quote is from Ahmed Alaidy, An takun ‘Abbas al-‘Abd (Being Abbas el Abd), trans. Humphrey Davies (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2006), 36. The second is from Omar Taher, Shaklaha bazet (Looks like It’s Falling Apart) (Cairo: Atlas, 2006); a partial translation appears in “Looks like It’s Falling Apart: An Introduction,” translated by Brian T. Edwards, A Public Space, no. 9 (2009), 135–38. Quotation on p. 138.
    12. Michael Warner, “Publics and Counterpublics,” Public Culture 14 (2002): 49–90.
    13. Mansoura Ez Eldin, “Date with a Revolution,” Op-Ed, New York Times, January 31, 2011. Ahmed Alaidy, “I Didn’t Think Egypt’s Revolution Was Possible. But Here We Are,” Washington Post, February 6, 2011.
    14. Magdy El Shafee, “Two Million People in the Square: Scenes from the Revolution,” trans. Humphrey Davies, n.d.; published online by Words Without Borders, February 2011,
    15. Alaidy, “I Didn’t Think Egypt’s Revolution Was Possible.”


About the Journal

Public Culture is a reviewed interdisciplinary journal of cultural studies, published three times a year in Fall, Winter, and Spring for the Institute for Public Knowledge by Duke University Press. The journal's full archives are available online at

© Copyright 2006–2009 Public Culture and Duke University Press. All Rights Reserved.

Contact Info

Public Culture

20 Cooper Square, Suite 517 New York, NY 10003


212-998-8468 Fax