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Polygence Scholar2021
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Geetika Mahajan

Irvington High SchoolClass of 2022

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Projects

  • Emancipatory Politics during the Arab Spring in Connection with Literature and the Arts with mentor Anne-Marie (Aug. 22, 2021)

Geetika's Symposium Presentation

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Emancipatory Politics during the Arab Spring in Connection with Literature and the Arts

Abstract or project description

The Arab Spring references the string of loosely-connected uprisings that occurred in much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. In many countries, such as Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Libya, hundreds of thousands of civilians participated to object to their respective governments and demand a fairer democracy. While many expressed their discontent by participating in physical protests, others turned to art and literature as an act of defiance and rebellion. From award-winning documentaries such as *The Square* to the short, handmade clips produced by Syrian video collection Abounaddara to novels that explore themes of trauma and autocratic governments, works that express such revolutionary ideology can fulfil a broad spectrum of purposes. Some serve to inform global audiences about the events of the revolution, while others bring light to and attempt to heal the trauma that protestors may experience. This phenomenon is not a new one; recent pieces of literature written during the Arab Spring echo the sentiments of novels published during previous revolutions as well. Yet, contemporary works in this genre may be more complex due to the rise of social media and increased access to film and literature production tools. It is vital to discuss these works, their distinct exigence, and the benefits that they have on a local and global scale, to understand the key roles that art can play in a revolution today. Through analyzing various works that arose during and in the aftermath of the Syrian and Egyptian revolutions, I will categorize documentary films and novels based on their purposes, proposing three broad categories that revolutionary art may fall into. Throughout the paper, I draw on key secondary literature in history, sociology, literary studies, and film critique, as well as newspaper editorials and social media sites to support my argument. My analysis demonstrates the complexities of revolutionary art as well as its prevalence in the modern day. Thus, the reader is able to see how it can reflect the sentiments of a society as a revolution progresses and falters- or how it can dictate the disposition and become the epicenter of such revolutions altogether.