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The Amāra on the Square

Connective Agency and the Aesthetics of the Egyptian Revolution

Ayman El-Desouky

Keywords: aesthetics; amāra; connective agency; Egyptian revolution; literature; politics

During and immediately after the Egyptian revolution of 2011, the creative impulse that accompanied social and political demands shifted toward a collective sense of regained agency, or “connective agency.” The spontaneous acts of mobilization, artworks from found objects, street performances, the reshaping of slogans and chants into sustained musical composition—these all tap into cultural memory, offering radical and socially cementing modes of communication. The agency of this artistic expression and collective action lies in the production of ama¯ ra forms: the specifically Egyptian cultural practice of producing signs and narrative tokens of shared identity and fate, in this case in a socially transformed public sphere. My reflections here move from the political to the aesthetic, from the return of the people through collective and solidaristic action to the forms of resonance and of connective agency that such actions have evinced.

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