Signs and Signifiers: Visual Translations of Revolt

Lewis Sanders IV

in Translating Egypt's Revolution

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9789774165337
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781617971303 | DOI:
Signs and Signifiers: Visual Translations of Revolt

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Reads and translates the throng of revolutionary banners and signs whose visual immediacy both established the demands of protesters and responded to the emerging political discourse as it unfolded thereby becoming, in and of themselves, a translation of the awakening of public consciousness and a remarkable and fearless articulation of the right to language. The authors trace how these visual public signs inscribed a narrative of resistance that drew on various symbols and layers of historical, cultural, and political memory to write the story of a people in revolt. As the authors correctly point out, “a palpable sense of guilt, responsibility and complicity underwrote many of these banners, drawing on a collective memory of censorship and participation in silence, and paving the way for a new moral economy.” Through a translation of the unprecedented politics of display in Tahrir that combined humor, satire, and creative energy, the authors show how Egyptians used their individual and collective bodies as canvases to represent the demands of the revolution, to dismantle and expose a history of empire and global complicities, and to celebrate solidarities, exceptional valor, and enormously tragic sacrifice.

Keywords: Humor and satire; Revolution banners and signs; Political translation; Intertextuality; Roland Barthes; Censorship; Martyrs; Cultural memory; The people's ownership of Tahrir

Chapter.  10850 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Society and Culture

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