Supplements to The History of Afghanistan
Politics, Economy and Society South of the Sahara in 2017
Various Authors & Editors
Racializing Qaddafi in the Visual Output of the 2011 Libyan Revolution
During the 2011 uprisings, artists and cultural agents unleashed biting pictorial forms of ridicule in Libya’s public domain. Their chief target was Muʿammar Qaddafi, the ‘Brother Leader’ of the Libyan Arab Republic and the so-called ‘King of Kings of Africa’. After failing to win support from Arab governments, Qaddafi campaigned for African unity, fashioning himself as a traditional sub-Saharan chief during the decade leading up to the ‘Arab Spring’. His bombastic African title, his Afro-like (shafshufa) hairstyle and his eye-catching robes made him an easy target for visual satire, which turned visibly more racist when he and his son, Sayf al-Islam, resorted to using mercenaries from the Sudan, Chad, Niger and Mali to violently suppress street demonstrations. Throughout the uprisings, anti-government actors sought to degrade Qaddafi through the use of ethnic stereotypes, revealing that, in the particular case of Libya, satirical contentions during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ were not just transgressive and factional, but instrumentally racist as well.
This special issue of Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, entitled ‘Creative Dissent: Visual Arts of the Arab World Uprisings’, explores the artistic modes of dissent that have marked the uprisings during and in the aftermath of the so-called ‘Arab Spring’. Scholars working in various fields of the humanities consider the 2011 uprisings’ more creative—and rather fleeting—manifestations, from lived environments activated on the ground to imagined spaces generated by online platforms. Collectively, the contributors underscore that the visual arts of the Arab world uprisings should not be considered by-products or afterthoughts to social and political action. Instead, they are located at the core and at the vanguard, propelling the energetic dimension of crowds both in the streets and in cyberspace.
Bahrain’s 2011 Pearl Roundabout Protests
On the morning of 18 March 2011, Bahrain’s state television broadcast the razing of the Pearl Roundabout and its iconic sculpture. This event, unsurprisingly, failed to quell the struggle between activists and the ruling elite. Rather, the destruction of the Pearl Monument (Luʾluʾ) and Bahrain’s ‘Pearl Square’ offered demonstrators a readymade symbol embodying the traumatic and violent days of the 2011 demonstrations and the ongoing government suppression of reform movements. Rematerializations of the Luʾluʾ through photographs, graffiti, digital art, sculptural maquettes and even costumes echo the physical structure in miniature and continue to regenerate and multiply the monument like a viral meme. Through such manifestations and reanimations the now-vanished monument continues to occupy Bahrain’s public spaces and civic memory, enduringly resisting the state’s efforts to erase it and all it represents. In examining the ‘lifecycle’ of the Luʾluʾ, this article explores how an act of iconoclasm can result in an outpouring of new creative activities.
This Part 2018-5 of the Third Edition of Brill’s Encyclopaedia of Islam will contain 49 new articles, reflecting the great diversity of current scholarship in the fields of Islamic Studies.
The Performance Art of Adham Hafez
This article explores the art of Adham Hafez, an Egypt-based performer, choreographer and music composer, in relation to the political and social turmoil in Egypt leading up to and following the 2011 uprising. Hafez’s work through and on the body highlights how the uprisings themselves were a rejection of various assaults on the body rendered by the Egyptian state, colonialism and global capitalism. By focusing on the ways that Hafez’s performances reconfigure the senses, and relations between the body and language, this article shows how performance can be a site of dissensus that creates potentially transformative resonance between bodies—in Tahrir Square and beyond.