Orientalising the Egyptian uprising, take two: response to Rabab el-Mahdi and her interlocutors.

Czajka, Agnes (2011). Orientalising the Egyptian uprising, take two: response to Rabab el-Mahdi and her interlocutors. Jadaliyya

URL: http://www.jadaliyya.com/pages/index/2016/oriental...

Abstract

Published by Jadaliyya on April 11 2011, Rabab el-Mahdi’s “Orientalising the Egyptian Uprising” precipitated a spirited discussion both in online comments on the article and offline discussions among Jadaliyya readers. While it is impossible to do justice to the article and the debates it has generated, the crux of el-Mahdi’s argument is that the Egyptian uprising – as distinguished from revolution – has been “orientalised” by international and local media, academics, politicians and the local elite. El-Mahdi argues that the “grand-narrative” of Arab Awakening, through which the aforementioned groups are narrating the uprising, does not differ fundamentally from the previously dominant orientalist narrative of Arab Exceptionalism. Both narratives are equally orientalist as they are both grounded in the same “bases of representation” and supported by the same “fundamental pillars”: “othering,” which el-Mahdi defines as the simultaneous construction of the categories of “us” and “them” and the normative privileging of the former, and “romanticisation and exoticisation,” defined as the construction of the oriental other (i.e. the “they”) as “mystical and mythical.”

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