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The Art of Archiving an Uprising

Maj B. Ørskov | PDF

Abstract: As argued by scholars such as Lina Khatib, Ariella Azoulay and W. J. T. Mitchell, the production and circulation of images recorded by citizens played a crucial role during the 2011 Egyptian
uprising. The use of images attracted global attention, mobilized action and actively performed the
protests’ crucial aims to renegotiate the country’s body and image politics. The inherent act of protest
in citizen photography and the “war of presence” spilled over into the act of archiving the protests as
a form of resistance in itself. Consequently, a large number of online archive projects were launched
during the 2011 uprising. What role does this large body of visual material and the online archives
that store it play today, eight years after the outbreak of the uprising? With a focus on Egypt, this
paper asks whether the dynamics of these archives “died” with the violent crackdown on public protest and the increased censorship imposed on citizens by the current military regime. Through an
examination of archive “858: An Archive of Resistance” by Mosireen Collective, I propose ways in
which digital archives containing images produced by civilians serve as sites on which the “war of
presence” can continue to be fought within present-day Egypt.

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