Panel 2e The Egyptian Revolution: Slogans, Symbolism and the Sisters

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Chair: Dr Ahmed Ali, Assistant Professor of Translation, American University of Sharjah

Paper 1Humour,Translation and Revolutionary Slogans: The Egyptian Model
Dr Ahmed Ali, Assistant Professor of Translation, American University of Sharjah

To many, the 25th January revolution in Egypt was an eye-opener. The spirit of revolution, however, manifested itself in both traditional as well as innovative ways. This paper attempts to shed light on how translation/interpretation, in its various forms, has played a significant role in rendering the message of the Egyptian people loud and clear during the uprising. The utilization of Arabic together with another language in the slogans, signs, comic sketches acted by protestors, etc. were powerful tools that reflected the inner desires of the Egyptians for change, aspiration for a better life, frustrations over decades of corruption and their ability to derive humor out of a desperate situation. The paper will look into the use of intralingual, interlingual and consecutive translation/interpretation by the protestors of Tahrir Square. The emphasis will be only analyzing how translation had been used in such a socio-political context. >> download the paper

Paper 2: 1001 Images from Tahrir Square: An analysis of Intertextuality and Dialogicality  in Protest Messages
Mariam Aboelezz, PhD candidate, Department of Linguistics and English Language, Lancaster University

The wave of pro-democracy protests which swept through the Arab world in 2011 has afforded a unique opportunity for researchers from a wide array of academic disciplines including linguistics. During the January 25 revolution in Egypt, the extensive media attention on Tahrir Square as the epicentre of anti-government protests has yielded a rich collection of images which capture what can only be described as an astounding volume of protest messages. These messages were often visually and linguistically innovative. In this paper, I take a quantitative approach at studying a key feature of the protest messages; namely intertextuality. To do this, I rely on an annotated visual corpus of over 1000 images where the messages were recorded and then statistically analysed to investigate the role of intertextuality as a tool for linguistic innovation. To cover the horizontal dimension of intertextuality, intertextual references were divided into three types: material, structural and constitutive. Statistical analysis reveals the relationship between these three types of intertextuality and elements such as code, theme and humour. Supplementary qualitative analysis reveals how the messages in the corpus were also related vertically, continuing an overarching dialogue between the anti-government protesters and Mubarak’s regime. This dialogicality illustrates how the protest messages were informed by previous discourse and informed future discourse, which links closely to the principles of geosemiotics – that signs must be interpreted in the context of how, when and where they are displayed.  >> download the paper

Paper 3: Cairo’s Graffiti post-January 25th: A critical analysis
Elisabeth F. Jaquette, Graduate Student, Department of Anthropology, Columbia University

Prior to January 25th, graffiti was rare in Cairo. During the uprising, protesters painted slogans like ‘Down with Mubarak,’ and afterward there was an outpouring of nationalistic imagery. Yet as protests continue, artists have diversified their tactics, framing their work within the protest movement of reclaiming public space. The emerging graffiti speaks to the communication needs and anxieties of a movement without central leadership; a means of voicing individual demands in a public forum sanctioned by the success of Mubarak’s removal. This paper argues that the graffiti movement is a channel for communication. Different pieces speak to a variety of audiences: to SCAF, demanding punishment of former regime members; to other protesters, calling them to action; and to voters, supporting specific candidates. This  paper examines how contestations of public space and evocations of the national and the global expand from the streets to the walls of Cairo, shaped by the partial success of the revolution and protesters’ changing communication needs.

These are abridged versions of the abstracts submitted by  the presenters.
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