Paint and Politics: Analyzing the 2011 Egyptian Revolution through Graffiti

Saturday, January 6, 2018
Atrium (Marriott Wardman Park)
Nala Chehade, Virginia Tech
This poster examines the role of alternative media in resistance during the Arab Spring and subsequent political change by analyzing graffiti in Cairo. Mohamed Morsi, Hosni Mubarak, and the Supreme Council of Armed Forces quelled protests in Tahrir Square using military violence and erected barriers, while graffiti opposed media censorship and government corruption. Socio-political revolution pushes seemingly powerless citizens to create spaces of solidarity, memorialization, and critique in opposition to such constructs, thus encouraging dialogue between citizen, artist, and government. The juxtaposition of utopian graffiti against violent clashes creates an active cycle of resistance, rebellion, and radical change. While marginalized communities use graffiti to resist violence and imagine alternative modes of being, hegemonic institutions use graffiti to instigate violence and impose constructions of reality. This poster uses primary sources from Tahrir Square, the neighborhood of Zamalek, and Mohamed Mahmoud Street in the forms of graffiti created by street artists Ganzeer, Keizer, and Zeft, in addition to subsequent interviews. Furthermore, this essay uses secondary sources through blog analyses, previous literature, and news articles. By demonstrating the resilience of citizens using creative activism, this research highlights the importance of the revolution in shaping a changing national identity. This research is part of a growing body of literature on creative activism, a topic especially important in our time of tumultuous global politics and critically engaged media.
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