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The Egyptian Revolution and its Historical Context

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This class 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.  

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