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The Egyptian Revolution and its Historical Context
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Organizing Committee:

This class will begin with a group discussion of the current egyptian uprising.

We will then join the LA public school via skype for the lecture listed below:

 

This class (at the LA public school) will be a special presentation by Ethan Pack, who studies Middle East literature and politics, on the revolution underway in Egypt:

 

The class will consist of a talk putting the Egyptian revolution into a few relevant contexts. Hopefully, this will ground people's understanding of the dimensions through which these events may be viewed. I will add some of my own analysis along the way, and perhaps some relevant video footage (or photography) from the protests if a projector can be set up. The main themes – and major guiding questions – will be as follows:

  • Egypt on the eve of the demonstrations: What was the political situation? Why didn’t anyone see this coming?
  • Tunisia, by way of Beirut and Baghdad: Why one man’s self-immolation was the most important event in 60 years for the Arab world.
  • Egypt’s Revolutionary History: Why Egypt has mattered, from Nasser to the present.
  • What’s next: Information on the relevant factors at play if/when Mubarak is overthrown.

 

Throughout, I will give attention to America’s role in Egypt and the Middle East. I will conclude with my own analysis for what individual Americans might do in light of the events. Ideally, we can have a lengthy discussion on the issues raised by the talk. This can be free-flowing, or I can prepare questions to guide it.   

Obviously, by next Saturday, the situation in Egypt could be fundamentally altered. This class will center on an explanation of contexts that led up to the mass demonstrations. Whether or not Mubarak’s regime is still in power, the class will help situate people with the relevant background to enrich discussion of these dramatic events and their significance.  

- Show quoted text -

 

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Hey Everyone-

For those interested in social media, etc. - here's a nice take from Frank Rich in the NYT:

"Three days after riot police first used tear gas and water hoses to chase away crowds in Tahrir Square, CNN’s new prime-time headliner, Piers Morgan, declared that “the use of social media” was “the most fascinating aspect of this whole revolution.” On MSNBC that same night, Lawrence O’Donnell interviewed a teacher who had spent a year at the American school in Cairo. “They are all on Facebook,” she said of her former fifth-grade students. The fact that a sampling of fifth graders in the American school might be unrepresentative of, and wholly irrelevant to, the events unfolding in the streets of Cairo never entered the equation.

The social networking hype eventually had to subside for a simple reason: The Egyptian government pulled the plug on its four main Internet providers and yet the revolution only got stronger. “Let’s get a reality check here,” said Jim Clancy, a CNN International anchor, who broke through the bloviation on Jan. 29 by noting that the biggest demonstrations to date occurred on a day when the Internet was down. “There wasn’t any Twitter. There wasn’t any Facebook,” he said. No less exasperated was another knowledgeable on-the-scene journalist, Richard Engel, who set the record straight on MSNBC in a satellite hook-up with Rachel Maddow. “This didn’t have anything to do with Twitter and Facebook,” he said. “This had to do with people’s dignity, people’s pride. People are not able to feed their families.”

No one would deny that social media do play a role in organizing, publicizing and empowering participants in political movements in the Middle East and elsewhere. But as Malcolm Gladwell wrote on The New Yorker’s Web site last week, “surely the least interesting fact” about the Egyptian protesters is that some of them “may (or may not) have at one point or another employed some of the tools of the new media to communicate with one another.” What’s important is “why they were driven to do it in the first place” — starting with the issues of human dignity and crushing poverty that Engel was trying to shove back to center stage.

Among cyber-intellectuals in America, a fascinating debate has broken out about whether social media can do as much harm as good in totalitarian states like Egypt. In his fiercely argued new book, “The Net Delusion,” Evgeny Morozov, a young scholar who was born in Belarus, challenges the conventional wisdom of what he calls “cyber-utopianism.” Among other mischievous facts, he reports that there were only 19,235 registered Twitter accounts in Iran (0.027 percent of the population) on the eve of what many American pundits rebranded its “Twitter Revolution.” More damning, Morozov also demonstrates how the digital tools so useful to citizens in a free society can be co-opted by tech-savvy dictators, police states and garden-variety autocrats to spread propaganda and to track (and arrest) conveniently networked dissidents, from Iran to Venezuela. Hugo Chávez first vilified Twitter as a “conspiracy,” but now has 1.2 million followers imbibing his self-sanctifying Tweets.

This provocative debate isn’t even being acknowledged in most American coverage of the Internet’s role in the current uprisings. The talking-head invocations of Twitter and Facebook instead take the form of implicit, simplistic Western chauvinism. How fabulous that two great American digital innovations can rescue the downtrodden, unwashed masses. That is indeed impressive if no one points out that, even in the case of the young and relatively wired populace of Egypt, only some 20 percent of those masses have Internet access."

here's the link:
http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/06/opinion/06rich.html?_r=1

Anne-Marie will be joining us for about half hour from 4 pm, and she will also listen part way to the lecture in LA. I'll skype her in around that time.

hi everyone--

we need to change the time to 4pm tomorrow. hope that's ok with you all!

the plan is to chat for 30 minutes, listen to the lecture via skype at the public school los angeles, and then talk some more.

currently, we don't have anyone that will lead discussion, so we'll all have to help each other out!

I've asked three people but because of the quantity of events going on now (and there will be an international solidarity protest globally tomorrow, Feb 5), all could not make it. But one of them, who is in the UK, Anne-Marie Angelo, says that she could skype in. Whether she leads or just join in the conversation, I've asked her if she wants to skype in between 2:45 to 3 pm our time.

This is happening at UNC on Monday. Perhaps one of these people could come on such short notice to participate?
http://alumni.unc.edu/article.aspx?sid=8089

That's fantastic!

Oops, I am ahead of myself. Just received word that she'll be in the UK this Sat. She asked if she could skype in and she will also recommend someone who happens to be here. Also, still waiting to hear from the second party I've spoken to.

Here is hoping what I am not getting too much ahead of myself.
Anne-Marie Angelo, Graduate Student with the History Dept working on the Middle East is excited about leading a discussion on such a hot topic. She is en route from Cairo (she's been there for quite a bit) and has just arrived in the UK. Here is hoping she makes it back for this Sat.

Have asked two people, including a friend who was one of the speakers at the tunisia/egypt teach-in. Will let all know what they decide. The friend has shown inclination but still working out if she has the time.

I'll ask around and let you guys know what happen

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