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EFFERVESCENT EGYPT: Venues of Mobilization and the Interrupted Legacy of 2011

EFFERVESCENT EGYPT Venues of Mobilization and the Interrupted Legacy of 2011Download Publication

The 2011 uprising opened opportunities to Egyptians from all walks of life to mobilize and organize in order to demand their rights. These opportunities proved ephemeral, and mobilization efforts have been interrupted by the shrinking space for social mobilization during al-Sisi’s presidency. This collection of research papers and studies provides a glimpse of how these social movements organized, their challenges, and their achievements during the period between 2011 and early 2014. 

As Egyptians mark the seventh anniversary of the January 2011 uprising, the Arab Reform Initiative is launching a series of studies that capture the spirit of the Tahrir gatherings and the social mobilization that flourished during the window of opportunity that briefly opened.

The studies, published in two volumes in Arabic and one in English, and titled Effervescent Egypt: Venues of Mobilization and the Interrupted Legacy of 2011, offer a rare and broad snapshot of an ephemeral moment in Egypt, when autonomous mobilization, organizational experimentation, and the demand for rights and equality were generalized across the enlarged public sphere.

Based on extensive field research, including hundreds of interviews, ethnographic methods, and participant observation, as well as action-research dialogues between activists and researchers, the publication provides an exceptionally rich picture of Egyptian civil society between 2011 and early 2014. The papers present a wide array of movements ranging from the organizing efforts of street vendors to the Tahrir Doctors Society, from anti-sexual harassment to urban rights and workers movements.

The opportunities that opened post-2011 were interrupted following the arrival of President al-Sisi and ensuing shrinking space for fundamental freedoms and public mobilization.

Although this moment of opportunity was short-lived, the studies provide timely insight for social and political actors in Egypt and further afield, with reflections on what worked and what didn’t, as well as new strategies for the achievement of rights, including cause lawyering and strategic litigation.


Photo: Pyramid of Crisis © Munir Sayegh. Art by Hanaa El Degham.