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The Tahrir Square meme: a series of events at the University of East London

openDemocracy in conjunction with the University of East London is organizing a three-part event series on ‘The Tahrir Square Meme’ to be held at UEL's Dockland Campus. All the events are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

openDemocracy in conjunction with the University of East London is organizing a three-part event series on ‘The Tahrir Square Meme’ to be held at UEL's Dockland Campus. All the events are free and the public is encouraged to attend.

The series will explore the ways in which the tactics and symbols of the Arab Spring are spreading from east to west memetically, part of a semi-conscious linking of different struggles. The series will explore ‘links’ borne out of the Arab Spring and seek to understand the Spring’s global incarnations.

Our first event is Rap and the Arab Spring and it will be held on the 29th of February at 6:30pm in Lecture Theatre WBG.02. In the midst of the millions of Arab voices calling for change are the haunting subversive melodies of a group of increasingly vocal young Arab rappers. Their music appeals to the sense of dignity and hope the Arab Spring inspired, but they also continue to voice the demands of the people.

This event will explore the questions: What ways did rap inspire the revolutionaries and how are the revolutions inspiring Arab rappers? With no real Arabic hip hop industry to speak of, how do we account for the genre's popularity and influence? Has Arab rap transcended its regional boundaries and made its impact global?

The second event in our series is entitled - "Translating the revolution" - and it will feature AUC professor Samia Mehrez and Laura Gribbon who are collaborators on a new book due out by Oxford University Press "Translating Egypt's Revolution: The Language of Tahrir".

The book and the event is the culmination of research and translation work conducted by American University in Cairo students of different cultural and linguistic backgrounds who continue to witness Egypt's on-going revolution. The chapters focus on the relationship between translation and semiotics, issues of fidelity and equivalence, creative transformation and rewriting, and the issue of target readership. This mature collective project is in many ways a re-enactment of the new infectious revolutionary spirit in Egypt today."

The event will be held on Thursday, March 15th and more info can be found on our homepage.

In April 2012 we will also be hosting an event on human rights in the Arab Spring. Details will be anounced in due course.


About the authors

Although Ibn Thabit is largely unknown by the Western media, he's almost universally known among the Libyan diaspora. Since 2008, he has wage an underground rap struggle to overthrow Muammar al-Gaddafi; and when Gaddafi finally fell, Ibn Thabit abruptly announced his retirement.

Ibn Thabit has always distributed his music for free.

The Narcicyst (or Narcy), is an Iraqi journalist and Hip Hop MC. His work focuses on the experiences of Arabs in North America. He uses hip-hop as a way to explore a range of issues, including race, colonialism, ghettos, religion, the history of art and personal identity.

Egyptian rapper and poet Mohamed El Deeb is in the vanguard of resuscitating rap as a viable means of expression, working to channel the political and cultural power of the hip-hop generation into mainstream socio-political activities.

Samia Mehrez obtained her BA and MA degrees at the American University in Cairo and completed her Ph.D. at UCLA where her dissertation focused on the works of the Egyptian writer Gamal al-Ghitani. She taught at Cornell University from 1984-1990 in the Department of Near Eastern Studies before she came to AUC where she currently teaches modern Arabic literature. She has published several articles in the fields of modern Arabic literature, postcolonial literature, translation studies, gender studies and cultural studies. She is the author of Egyptian Writers between History and Fiction: Essays on Naguib Mahfouz, Sonallah Ibrahim and Gamal al-Ghitani, AUC Press, 1994 and 2004. She has completed a manuscript entitled The Battle for Culture: Egypt at the Turn of the 21st Century that is forthcoming in 2006.



Laura Gribbon is a graduate in Middle East Politics from the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. She has been living in downtown Cairo for extended periods of time since January 2011. Laura is a contributor to the volume ‘Translating Egypt’s Revolution’, edited by Samia Mehrez (AUC Press, 2012), and has been writing more recently about narrative and visual constructions and deconstructions of Egypt’s political martyrs. 

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