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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.


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Affiliations: 1: University of Pennsylvania, USA and American University of Beirut, Lebanon Email:


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