I thought the Cairo to Drive documentary was an interesting take on the changes in Egypt. I was amazed to see how populated Egypt actually is and I was also able to appreciate the documentary even more knowing all the time and effort that was put into filming and producing it. I thought it was unique how the change in Egypt was mirrored through the imagery of the traffic. I also like how there was a lot of b-footage when interviews were being conducted. In class Sheriff had mentioned that he didn’t use titles for people when they spoke and when I was watching the documentary I paid attention to this. Not only did the lack of title make the documentary feel more natural but I was better able to listen to what the speakers were saying because I wasn’t tempted to read what was on the screen instead.
When the documentary starts talking about the dangers of the streets of Cairo it made me realize how dangerous the city was. The interview in which the man tells about how his daughter was hit and killed by a bus was particularly disturbing and sad. It made me concerned about the kids that were shown riding on the back of their parents motorcycles. When the film ended I felt unsure about what would happen to Egypt after the elections. I hope that the corruption within the government will be solved and maybe some better traffic laws could be made.
The cinematography was done nicely I liked how most of the shots were very clean and I liked how the pacing of the shots increased after the comical car interviews. The switching of pace helped keep and spark my interest in the interesting topics that were discussed. Overall I thought the documentary was very well done and taught me a lot about what is going on in Cairo and within Egypt.
The revolutionary events within the Arab world weren’t necessarily the cause of the issues within the rest of the Saudi World. Instead they all believed that the rest of Saudi Arabia needed change as well. Change that they saw taking place with others of the same orientation. The Sawha are credited with the most change within Saudi Arbia due to their lack of governmental control. Those with a lot of government freedom have more ability to be mobile with change. The Muslim Brotherhood is a movement that was popular among the Saudi youth.
Another movement that was popular was the petition “Towards the State of Right and Institutions.” This one was about the election of the prime minister and was important to the youth for many reasons. One of the reasons was because is put a lot of pressure on the regime. The reading explored many other issues as well and emphasized the importance of the different movements. Saudi Arabia was divided into two, the Liberals and the others. They didn’t believe in many of the same ideas but they both had one common goal. They both believed that Saudi Arabia needed to change. Many of the issues that the author talked about was from the 1990s and she addressed how the people are still currently fixing some of the issues they had and still are facing.
Most of the bloggers had come out of the Middle East and Africa according to the site DigiActive. The article suggests that the reason for more bloggers in these areas is because of their repressive regimes. I think that this is true as well. Since people don’t feel conferrable saying what they believe they rely on posting anonymously. They still face the risk of imprisonment as mentioned in the article, however they are accredited with fighting for freedom of speech. Not only do they inspire the people in Arab but they inspire people around the world as well thanks to the “fluidity” of the web.
Many of bloggers met in a conference and a common theme of the conference was solidarity. Which is when a group of people stand together for similar cause. Many also talked about the issue of how bloggers acted. They believed that if they acted more like journalists than they would be more respected. However many bloggers believe that they need to push the boundaries in order to make social change. They don’t want anything to take away their freedom of speech when they blog so they have even turned down a bloggers code of ethics. They also reject the idea of being called a journalist because they believe that they are more active in the Media. Not only because they report what is happening but because they are the ones that are making changes in the first place.
The second article was about Bassel, a man who invented software that advanced cultural movements in his country. People even claimed that his software had opened the internet up in Syria. However even though he received praise for his software it is also what lead to his disappearance. There is a FreeBassal campaign on Twitter because people are concerned about where he is. I think it is important for bloggers to keep blogging in order to be aware of the oppression they are facing.
This week the reading focused on different aspects of the Arab government. The first article talked about the privatization of public spaces in Beiruts. The government wanted to privatize a park in particular because he thought that it would be used from inappropriate activities. By privatizing public spaces the government is able to better control the people which adds to the centralized government. The author of the first article refers to the state as the ‘sovereign’ which was defined for us in the beginning of the reading. When the author refers to the state as the ‘sovereign’ he is that the state utilized violence and fear in order to gain control. The second article, Evicting Sovereignty: Lebanons Housing Tenants From Citizens to Obstacles, focusses on the change in legislation that lead to many evictions. Basically minimum wages and rent costs didn’t line up. So landlords thought there buildings were worth more than tenants were paying. Many people believed that the rent control laws were unjust and unfair. Which then put the security of housing in the hands of the state instead of private landlords.
The final reading was about the escalation of rioters whom infiltrated the, what was supposed to be peaceful, protest against the Lebanon’s government. Overall all of the readings made me realize the amount of power the government has by making things private. When something is made private it is able to be better regulated. However, it does upset some because it takes away freedom from the public. As far as the debate of Sovereignty goes I do believe that it needs to be re looked at because most study of it hasn’t included other aspects of the middle east such as mobilizing practices. I also thought it was interesting how space in Lebanon was associated with weaponry because of the civil war. It is similar to the divide of the North and the South in the American Civil War.
The Egyptian Insurgency Short Film Festival was the first film festival I had ever attended and I really enjoyed it. I liked how each of the films varied from each other because it made the festival interesting to watch. I also appreciated how the festival started with a 30 second clip from Kallenberger in which workers are depicted and then the festival concluded with a 30 second clips of workers. I think this method of matching clips created good bookends which tied all the films together.
One of the shorts that stood out to me the most was The Camel Battle by Omar Robert Hamilton. This film stood out to me because I thought it was disturbing to see people throwing bricks at one another. The short film was explaining the step down of Mubarak. It was interesting because it was shot amongst the chaos of the rioters in the streets which put us, the audience, in their perspective. I noticed that in the short there was almost no women, and that most of the people protesting were young men. After The Camel Battle short there was a short about Gandhi called Ghandi in Egypt by Linda Herrera. I thought this was a good contrast to The Camel Battle because The Camel Battle depicted unrest and riot while Gandhi depicts peace.
Another short that I really enjoyed was Women and Youth of the Arab Revolutions because it didn’t depict just young men which dominated many of the other short films. The short film takes into perspective the opinions of the women and their views on the protests within the square. The first woman interviewed in the short also wanted rights like the men but it was interesting too see that she didn’t like the fact that she didn’t personally participate in protesting with the other people in the square. In a way it shows the gender differences. Overall, I enjoyed all the shorts from the Film Festival and thought it was well put together.
Listening to the speakers was really interesting. I went to the 1:30-3:00 session and a couple of speakers really stuck out too me. Omnia Khalil made some really interesting points. Her thesis included the people, the city space, the labor and power. She believes that space reflects the everyday life of the people and that identification and militarization is happening within these spaces. Basically what she is saying is that the government is trying to take the spaces of the residents. She rephrases this by claiming that the “government wants to change the landscape of Egypt.” She points out how Tahir Square used to be full of people but has been empty since 2013 due to an increase is security. The government not only increased the amount of security within Tahir Square but they also put up a post with the Egyptian flag on it. Now there are no more Vendors within the square along with cafes and other commodities. The government also increased the rent for the buildings so other businesses had to leave the square as well. Not only did the government change the business side of Tahir Square but they also forced residents to move out as well. She concludes her talk by saying that the government is taking over the country in the claim of modernization.
Another interesting speaker was the one that followed right after Omnia. I don’t remember her name because there was a change in the program but she was also very interesting. She talked about the two different groups in Egypt. They were the groups that were on the revolutionary scene and were either viewed as heroes or very negatively. They used huge flags and were experienced in street fights. And had unfortunately suffered from two different massacres. She said that the police were scared of these big youth organizations because they had an issue with ‘fun’. She believes that the state has an issue with fun because it makes culture and practices less legitimate. Ranwa, the speaker after her makes a similar statement. She says that Egypt is experiencing a new culture, due to the internet, that the government is interfering with.
Herrera refers to our generation as the “wired generation” as well as the “We generation.” Now instead of focusing on the individual we instead are becoming more collectivist. We don’t just receive information from the media anymore but we are able to produce it as well. This is what Herrera refers too as “symmetrical participation.” Because we are able to participate in media practice, Media can no longer be called ‘mass communications.’ I believe that participation in media has been a good thing for our generation because we get to see the views of many different people rather than just the people who control the media. However, Herrera brings up the negative effects media has on our society. She claims that our generation is lacking skills in long term visions and planning, that we have short attention spans and that we are constantly seeking gratification. I do agree that attention spans are becoming increasingly smaller because we are constantly stimulated with technology, however, I don’t believe that our generation is lacking skills in creating long term visions and goals based on media.
I find it interesting that Herrera believes that a generation become conscious of itself when the members are aware of their common interests. She also claims that it is huge social shifts or social traumas that speed up the tempo of creating a generation. This proves her first point because people do bond over common issues. For example, the ‘GI generation’ experienced WWII together while the “Baby Boomers” experienced space exploration together.
The second reading “Feminist Insurrections and the Egyptian Revolution.” made me appreciate the freedom we have with media. When the story came out about the sexual harassment the women faced it wasn’t all accurate and people were able to post accounts of what had actually happened. When Fox News had picked up the story they had framed the protestors as sex crazed males which wasn’t an accurate representation of what really happened.
Overall the reading talked about how technology united the youth in Egypt, and helped them take an active role in human right protests. Under the leader Mubarak, Egypt, had a youth ‘bulge’ in which over 60 percent of the population was younger than thirty. However, this demographic of people was overlooked by the government and treated as problems. Due to this the majority of youth were unemployed and remained living with their parents. They were also mistreated. With the use of technology the youth were able to ban together about human rights issues.
A particular issue that was important to the Egyptian youth regarded the emergency law, which made it legal for officers to search your home without a search warrant. The movement began with the death of Said due to police brutality. Then began a Facebook page. The Facebook page made it possible for the demographic to unite and discuss with little government interference. Unfortunately the Facebook page only discussed the issues of police brutality and ignored other issues the youth were facing at the time. Another person that was the face of police brutality was Kabir. Kabir was a boy whom was also brutally beat by police. He was a better face to the anti-police brutality campaign because he was part of the middle class, unlike Said who was lower class, and he also wasn’t apart of any other movements. Because of his economic status and lack of movement he wasn’t an easy target to pinpoint thus proving that police brutality could occur to anyone.
Facebook was a powerful connector for the youth because it gives power to the individual. By blogging or posting of the internet you are able to reach more people. Also there is a diminished sense of consequences to what you say, so people are able to freely speak there minds. Also unlike mail, there is a sense of urgency because you are talking in “real time.” Also more people can use social media because it is low cost. The only thing one has to be able to afford is a computer or any other device that receives the internet. Because it can be accessed from all different types of devices it is always accessible as well. Because the internet is difficult to monitor there is little authorial figures disrupting information, however people in power can also have better interactions with a broader range of people. Not only did Facebook allow the youth in Egypt to have a voice but it also united them due to its lower cost of group formation, group joining and group sharing. By people being able to see there family and friends on the page they are more likely to participate.