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Commentary: Art and the ‘Arab Spring’: Repression and Resistance in Images of the Body.

The commentary should involve the comparative and analytical discussion of at least two primary source texts studied in this course.
The diverse manifestations of what came to be known collectively as the ‘Arab Spring’ produced a complex range of icons, from Samuel Aranda’s photograph of a fully veiled Yemeni woman holding her injured son to the widely circulated image of ‘The Girl in a Blue Bra’ taken in Egypt in 2011. Yet, alternative corporeal means of exploring the violence of the revolutions exist. This seminar will ask: how do artists use images of the body to evoke victimhood yet also agency, repression yet also resistance? To what extent do they avoid constructing further clichés? How can art interpolate its diversely located (and travelled) spectators to encourage a more nuanced understanding of the revolutions? We will discuss works including Lalla Essaydi’s photographic series exploring women’s participation in the ‘Arab Spring’ (Bullets and Bullets Revisited, 2012 – present), Mouna Karray’s evocation of the Tunisian Revolution through photographs of her own body (Noir, 2012), and an online video combining a painting-performance and footage of demonstrations in Syria by Philip Horani (Liberté, 2011).
Aim to find out as much as you can about the works of art listed above.
The works by Essaydi and Karray can be found on their websites: lallaessaydi.com; mounakarray.com. Philip Horani is a pseudonym; the video can be found at: https://vimeo.com/45661752
Key Secondary Reading
Hafez, S. (2014) The Revolution Shall Not Pass Through Women’s Bodies: Egypt, Uprising and Gender Politics. The Journal of North African Studies. 19.2, pp. 172-185
Khalil, A. (2014) Tunisia’s Women: Partners in Revolution. The Journal of North African Studies. 19.2, pp. 186-99 (see also A. Khalil’s introduction to this special issue, ‘Gender Paradoxes of the Arab Spring’)
Edward Said, On Orientalism
Georges Sorel, Reflections on violence
Hannah Arendt, On Violence

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