Salon 4: May 12, 2020: Re-Weaving Digital Textualities with Amira Hanafi’s “A Dictionary of the Revolution"

Critical Writing
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Abstract (in English): 

A Dictionary of the Revolution by Amira Hanafi was the first Arabic e-lit piece to come to my mind when thinking of what to present in the ELO salon. It is available in English and Arabic so, the English-speaking audience will be able to engage in the reading process. This piece is based on the idea of the January 25th revolution in Egypt, which is a special event to all Egyptians. I thought that the Western audience would be interested in knowing more about this glorious revolution. Most importantly, the technique of weaving different voices into one text and visualizing it in a wheel-shaped dictionary is unique. In addition to all these causes that make A Dictionary of the Revolution a good fit to the ELO salon’s presentation, this piece is the winner of the New Media Writing Prize and The Public Library Prize for Electronic Literature.

The process of creating this piece is interesting. The digital artist Amira Hanafi did meetings with 200 persons from 6 Egyptian governorates: Alexandria, Aswan, Cairo, Mansoura, Sinai, and Suez in the time period from March to August 2014. She asked those people to choose a card from a vocabulary box containing 160 words in Egyptian colloquial related to the Egyptian revolution. People were required to speak about the chosen word namely, its definition and the related accounts. The interviews’ recordings were transcribed and woven by the artist to end up with multi-voiced storytelling on the Egyptian revolution.

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Hannah Ackermans