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Hikāyāt sha‛b - stories of peoplehood: Nasserism, popular politics and songs in Egypt, 1956-1973

Mossallam, Alia (2012) Hikāyāt sha‛b - stories of peoplehood: Nasserism, popular politics and songs in Egypt, 1956-1973. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This study explores the popular politics behind the main milestones that shape Nasserist Egypt. The decade leading up to the 1952 revolution was one characterized with a heightened state of popular mobilisation, much of which the Free Officers’ movement capitalized upon. Thus, in focusing on three of the Revolution’s main milestones; the resistance to the tripartite aggression on Port Said (1956), the building of the Aswan High Dam (1960-­1971), and the popular warfare against Israel in Suez (1967-­1973), I shed light on the popular struggles behind the events. I argue that to the members of resistance of Port Said and Suez, and the builders of the High Dam, the revolution became a struggle of their own. Ideas of socialism and Arab nationalism were re-­articulated and appropriated so that they became features of their identities and everyday lives. Through looking at songs, idioms and stories of the experiences of those periods, I explore how people experimented with a new identity under Nasser and how much they were willing to sacrifice for it. These songs and idioms, I treat as an ‘intimate language’. A common language reflecting a shared experience that often only the community who produces the language can understand. I argue that songs capture in moments of political imagination what official historical narratives may not. Furthermore, I argue that these songs reveal silences imposed by state narratives, as well as those silences that are self-­imposed through the many incidents people would rather forget. The study contributes to an understanding of the politics of hegemony, and how an ideology can acquire the status of ‘common sense’ through being negotiated, (re)-­articulated, and contributed to, rather than enforced on a people suppressed. It also contributes to our understanding of popular politics, and the importance of exploring the experiences and intentions of people behind historical and political milestones; understanding politics beyond the person of politicians and the boundaries of the nation state.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Alia Mossallam
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
J Political Science > JA Political science (General)
Sets: Departments > Government
Supervisor: Chalcraft, John

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