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Full Access The Revolutionary Body Politic: Preliminary Thoughts on a Neglected Medium in the Arab Uprisings

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The Revolutionary Body Politic: Preliminary Thoughts on a Neglected Medium in the Arab Uprisings

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When Aliaa al-Mahdy, a 20-year old student in communication at the American University in Cairo, posted nude photographs of herself on a blog she called “A Rebel’s Diary,” she unleashed one of the most heated polemics to come out of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25, 2011 and deposed Hosni Mubarak less than one month later. This essay, written in the days after the scandal broke in November 2011, raises preliminary questions about what responses to Aliaa’s defiant act might reveal about revolutionary politics. In the essay I argue that the polemic surrounding Aliaa can be understood in the contexts of other incidents of the Arab uprisings, beginning with Bouazizi’s self-immolation, that invite us to consider, explore and theorize the human body as a vital medium in the Arab uprisings.

Affiliations: 1: University of Pennsylvania, USA and American University of Beirut, Lebanon Email: mkraidy@asc.upenn.edu

10.1163/187398612X624382
/content/journals/10.1163/187398612x624382
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When Aliaa al-Mahdy, a 20-year old student in communication at the American University in Cairo, posted nude photographs of herself on a blog she called “A Rebel’s Diary,” she unleashed one of the most heated polemics to come out of the Egyptian revolution that began on January 25, 2011 and deposed Hosni Mubarak less than one month later. This essay, written in the days after the scandal broke in November 2011, raises preliminary questions about what responses to Aliaa’s defiant act might reveal about revolutionary politics. In the essay I argue that the polemic surrounding Aliaa can be understood in the contexts of other incidents of the Arab uprisings, beginning with Bouazizi’s self-immolation, that invite us to consider, explore and theorize the human body as a vital medium in the Arab uprisings.

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1. ‘Abdu Ahmad ( 2011). "To Aliaa al-Mehdy". Al-Masry al-Youm . Accessed 12 December 2011, , 17 November 2011.
2. Abu Ghazal Sara Emiline ( 2011). "Who is Afraid of Aliaa’s Nudity?" Sawt al Niswa . Accessed 12 December 2011, . 18 November 2011.
3. Al-Sayyed Samir ( 2011). "April 6 Denies any Connection with an Activist who Published a Photograph of herself Completely Naked on her Private Blog". Al-Ahram . .aspx, 17 November 2011.
4. Elmahdy Aliaa Magda ( 2011, October 23). "Diaries of a Rebel". Accessed 12 December 2011, http://arebelsdiary.blogspot.com/?zx=5a146ca445563623 , 23 October 2011.
5. Mikdashi Maya ( 2011). "Waiting for Aliaa". Jadaliyya . Accessed 15 November 2011, , 23 November 2011.
6. Muhammad Hussameddin ( 2011). "Fadwa Slayman Makes History on al-Jazeera and Blogger Aliaa Lays Bare Both Government and Society". Al-Quds al-Arabi. 16 November 2011.
7. Sabry ‘Adel ( 2011). "An Invitation to View the Body of an Egyptian Girl". al-Ahram . Accessed 21 November 2011, 114127.aspx, 21 November 2011.
8. Salamah Khodr ( 2011). "Why … O Aliaa?" Available http://jou3an.wordpress.com/2011/11/16 , Accessed16 November 201.
9. Tantzizi ( 2011). "Men Wear the Hijab Heeding Aliaa al-Mehdy’s Call"(2011). Television Tantzizi . Accessed 12 December 2011, , 17 November 2011.
10. Armbrust W. ( 2005). "What would Sayyid Qutb say? Some Reflections on Video Clips". Transnational Broadcasting Studies 14. Accessed 1 January 2006, .
11. Berlant L. ( 1997). The Queen of America Goes to Washington City: Essays on Sex and Citizenship . Durham: Duke University Press.
12. Foucault M. ( 1990). The History of Sexuality: An Introduction . New York: Vintage.
13. Göle Nilüfer ( 1997). "The Gendered Nature of the Public Sphere". Public Culture ( Vol 10) 1: 6181. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/08992363-10-1-61
14. Kraidy M. M. ( 2010). Reality Television and Arab Politics: Contention in Public Life . New York: Cambridge University Press.
15. Peters J. D. ( 1999). Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication . Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
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/content/journals/10.1163/187398612x624382
2012-01-01
2016-12-05

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