Gender and Tahrir Square: contesting the state and imagining a new nation

Kadry, Ahmed (2014). Gender and Tahrir Square: contesting the state and imagining a new nation. Journal for Cultural Research, 19(2) pp. 199–206.



This article argues that the concepts of ‘State’ and ‘Nation’ should be treated as separate from one another, hence, more than one image of the nation is possible at one given time. During the early days of the January 2011 Egyptian revolution, a contestation emerged between Mubarak’s state and the protesters in Tahrir Square over the image and notion of the Egyptian nation. Both the state and the protesters attempted to exclude one another from their respective discourse of the Egyptian nation. While reflecting back on a number of women’s voices who joined the early days of the Tahrir Square protests and using qualitative fieldwork interviews with Cairo-based feminist and political activists, this article points to the complexity of a newly forged image of Egyptian nationhood. In Tahrir Square, this image appeared to be largely framed within gendered criteria where notions of manhood and hyper visible gender equality were intrinsically linked to the broader objective of removing Mubarak and his regime. This raises the question of whether new gender paradigms of equality can continue to exist beyond Tahrir Square’s imagination of a ‘new’ nation.

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