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Documenting defiance: Women film-makers in Tahrir Square

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This article discusses the work of national and transnational women film-makers who contributed to the discourse on the Egyptian Revolution in the three years that followed the fall of Mubarak and who documented forms and expressions of female defiance through the lens of their camera. I argue that, in women-made documentaries, the social and political defiance vis-à-vis systems of governance and instances of authority (familial, religious and political) is shaped through the representation of a far-reaching form of disobedience, breaking the rules of social patriarchy and political paternalism, destabilizing the common knowledge on oppressed women and defying the overarching essentialist views on women’s conditions in Egypt. I argue that civic defiance cannot be understood without examining the more radical epistemic defiance to the established régime du savoir (regime of knowledge) informed by power relationships, and the way in which knowledge circulates and functions in relation to power centers and authoritarian elites.
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Keywords: Egyptian Revolution; Egyptian cinema; becoming-revolutionary; cultural resistance; documentary film; secularism; women film-makers

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Ottawa

Publication date: 01 March 2016

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  • The Journal of African Cinemas will explore the interactions of visual and verbal narratives in African film. It recognizes the shifting paradigms that have defined and continue to define African cinemas. Identity and perception are interrogated in relation to their positions within diverse African film languages. The editors are seeking papers that expound on the identity or identities of Africa and its peoples represented in film.
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