Not the Only Revolution: Cultural Production in the Wake of Tunisia and Egypt

الأربعاء 02 آذار 2011

Written by Ramsey Tesdell

Culture is a loaded term. Academics, politicians, and journalists whack each other of the head with the word, and I strongly doubt that any of them have a clue as to what the other means by it.

In many Arab countries you have a ministry of culture, where the post is as political as it is cultural. Ministries commission work, oversee artists unions, and generally serve as a patron to the arts. Sometimes an obstacle, other times a useful organization in supporting artists, ministries play a different role in each country.

Elliot Colla in Jadaliyya Magazine discusses the role of ‘culture’ in Egyptian politics with this interesting post. M. Lynx Qualey, who writes on Arabic Literature (in English), also details the events of the cultural ministry in Egypt as a new minister was appointed and then resigned as the regime in Egypt crumbled.

The events even inspired a poetry slam in New York.

My aim here isn’t to give a detailed history of the impact, development, or role of official and un-official ‘culture’ in Arab history. Nor am I going to attempt to define, what the Keywords: A Vocabulary of Culture Society by Raymond Williams describes as “one of the two or three most complicated words in the English language.”

What I will try to do in this post is to aggregate and highlight some of my favorite examples of ‘cultural production’ during and after the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt. I use cultural production here to describe the production of ‘the arts’ or anything remotely artistic, created from material or experiences of the political uprisings, which have been led not by academics or artists, but by people who suffered most under the regimes.


Mostly videos and songs, the quality of the material and the amount that has been created during and after the uprising has been by far some of the best work I’ve seen.

In the post below I share some of my favorite pieces and not an exhaustive list. Some are individuals, some are groups or collaborations between different artists, but all are working with material from the fallen regimes. If you know of others that deserve recognition, do share them in the comments below.

Omar Offendum, The Narcicyst, Freeway, Ayah, Amir Sulaiman – #Jan25 (Produced by Sami Matar) (English)
Sout Al Horeya صوت الحريه Amir Eid – Hany Adel – Hawary On Guitar & Sherif On Keyboards (Arabic)

خطاب حسني مبارك
Hosni Mubarak Speech (Arabic)

أغنية اطردوا حسني مبارك Expell Hosni Mubarak Song (Arabic)

One of my favorite mixes by far: Rap from Egypt and Tunisia (Arabic) – Khalas Mixtape Vol 1 Mish B3eed

And Finally, the Egyptian Rapper Deeb with a great video and song (Arabic) :