Notes on revolution and locality: a focus on Egypt in 2011
The unravelling of massive protests and forms of spontaneous and organized dissent across the MENA region in 2010-2012 has brought critical theorists and political and cultural scholars to confront, and possibly re-interpret, the concept of ‘revolution’, widely re-circulating in the media, but also claimed and upheld as the ultimate goal by most of these movements (notwithstanding the success or failure of such objectives as of today). This article proposes a reading of the cultural construction of ‘revolution’ with a specific focus on the Egyptian uprising of 2011. Revolution is read as anchored to locality, through Arjun Appadurai’s definition of “the production of locality” as a work of the imagination, as much as a work of material social construction. If, still following Appadurai, we consider imagination “a collective tool for the transformation of the real” then the production of locality is closely linked to revolutions, and the “right to participate in the work of the imagination” is crucially claimed by the (collective) subjectivities who fought in the revolutions of 2010-12, and who are (though in different forms and with extremely less media coverage) still fighting today.
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