|My work focuses on popular youth magazines and adult comics as sites of resistance to authoritarianism and assertion of youthfulness in the face of a patriarchal social order. The former really came into their own in the mid-2000s, while the latter burst upon the cultural scene just as the Egyptian uprising started in early 2011. These publications are interesting for several reasons. First, they give voice to young people from the middle class, a marginalized group in contemporary Egypt. Second, they address and criticize a number of political and social phenomena: authoritarianism, social alienation, and sexual harassment. Third, they offer a grassroots and often creative interpretation of current affairs in Egypt. |
These qualities make the publications interesting in and of themselves, but they acquire added importance in the light of the chaotic political process post-2011. This process has so far resulted in a regime that cracks down on civil society groups and independent media, producing an engineered public sphere. Few other voices than that of the regime are allowed to be heard, and the information from the government and most media is difficult to trust.
In this situation the magazines and comics I study become parts of an alternative archive. They self-archive most back issues, and to some extent, they are also readily available in digitized format at very affordable prices. Reading the editorials, interviews and stories in these publications offer us valuable insights into how Egypt is seen and experienced from the vantage point of young people: those who cheered on or joined the revolutionaries and whose voice seldom makes it to mainstream media, much less any national archives.