In Absence of a Hero Figure and an Ideology: Understanding New Political Imaginaries and Practices among Revolutionary Youth in Egypt

  • Dina El-Sharnouby Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, department of Political Science, Free University Berlin
Keywords: Revolution, Youth, Subjectivity, Alain Badiou, Revolutionary politics, Egypt

Abstract

One of the challenges in analyzing youth who participated in the recent Arab uprisings relates to explaining and understanding their revolutionary practices. Adopting a leaderless and cross-ideological form of mobilization, youth during the eighteen days of the Egyptian uprising managed to practice inclusion by uniting a diverse group of Egyptians. After toppling Mubarak, the revolutionary youth, however, did not present themselves as aiming to seize power, a defining feature of revolutions at least until the 1970s. To understand the meaning of these new cross-ideological and leaderless forms of mobilization, I suggest understanding youth within their time and space. Drawing on Alain Badiou and his conception of the intervallic period and the rebirth of history through the Arab revolts, this article highlights important differences among this generation in their conception of doing politics. More specifically, this paper focuses on the changed meaning of the hero figure, highlighting the importance of inclusionary politics. It will suggest that since the 2011 revolutionary event, a shift away from traditional politics based on a leader and an ideology is being contested for a more inclusionary politics as desired by the younger generation in Egypt.

Author Biography

Dina El-Sharnouby, Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, department of Political Science, Free University Berlin

is a doctoral candidate at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, department of Political Science, at the Free University Berlin. Before her PhD, El-Sharnouby obtained her Bachelors and Masters in Anthropology and Sociology from the American University in Cairo (AUC). El-Sharnouby is now about to finish her PhD which asks ‘What is the meaning of the 2011 revolution to Egyptian youth and particularly to members in the leftist Bread and Freedom party?’. El-Sharnouby has taught as an adjunct instructor at AUC and more recently assisted in teaching a course on the Arab revolutions at the Free University Berlin. She has published in form of a journal article, book chapter, and occasionally writes opinion pieces in English for open democracy and in German for Die Zeit.

email: El-Sharnouby@bgsmcs.fu-berlin.de

Published
2017-12-08
How to Cite
El-Sharnouby, D. “In Absence of a Hero Figure and an Ideology: Understanding New Political Imaginaries and Practices Among Revolutionary Youth in Egypt”. Middle East - Topics & Arguments, Vol. 9, Dec. 2017, pp. 84-95, doi:10.17192/meta.2017.9.6835.
Section
Focus