1/ Images of revolt, spaces of projection (23 January 2023)

Session 1 of the DREAM Seminar “Temporalities of
Revolts. Hopes, Projection and Visions”
with Dina Heshmat, Josepha I. WESSELS and Leyla Dakhli
Monday 23 January 2023, from 01:00h to 03:30 PM (GMT + 1)

In the opening session  of the DREAM Seminar 2023 Images of revolt, spaces of projection we look forward to the contributions from Dina HESHMAT (AUC Egypt, IEA Nantes) based on her book Egypt 1919: The Revolution in Literature and Cinema (Edinburgh University Press, 2020) and from Josepha I. WESSELS (MU Sweden) with a talk on “Subversive documentary cinema and people in concert prior to the Syrian Revolution”.
The moderation and the discussion will be led by Leyla DAKHLI (CNRS, CMB).

> the seminar will be held in english


Dina HESHMAT is Associate Professor of Arabic literature at the American University in Cairo and is currently a fellow at the Nantes Institute for Advanced Study in France (2022-2023), with a project focusing on autobiographical narratives by women who were involved in the 1919 anticolonial revolution in Egypt. It is a follow-up project on her book, Egypt 1919: The Revolution in Literature and Film (Edinburgh University Press, 2020, translated into Arabic at Dar al-Shuruq, 2021). She is also the author of Cairo in Modern and Contemporary Egyptian Literature (Cairo, Supreme Council of Culture, 2007, in Arabic). She has contributed to a variety of publications, including Arabica, Alif, The Encyclopedia of Islam, Jadaliyya, Orient XXI and Akhbar al-Adab.

A still from the play Hawa al-Horriya (Whims of Freedom). © Ruud Gielens.

In her book, Dina Heshmat analyzes literary and cinematic narratives dealing with 1919, highlights processes of remembering and forgetting that have contributed to shaping what she calls a dominant imaginary about this key moment of the anti-colonial struggle, coined by successive political and cultural elites. In this talk, she will focus on two narratives written and produced in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution in Egypt: a play by Laila Soliman, Hawa al-Hurriyya, translated as Whims of Freedom and a novel by Ahmed Mourad, titled 1919. She argues that these narratives both benefit from, and engage in the cultural dynamics that accompanied the 2011 revolution. Furthermore, she contends that their different articulations of 1919 -and of its defeat- can be explained by the specific ways both authors engaged in those dynamics, from two different positions in the post-revolutionary cultural field.

Josepha I. WESSELS is Associate Professor in Media and Communication Studies at the School of Arts and Communication (K3) of Malmö University, Sweden. She has 25 yrs of experience in international development, academia and ethnographic filmmaking in the Arab world. In 2019, she published a landmark book entitled “Documenting Syria: Film-making, Video Activism and Revolution” with IB Tauris/Bloomsbury UK. She lived between 1997 and 2002 in Syria, working as an applied anthropologist for an international agricultural research institute in Aleppo. She has a MA in Visual Anthropology from Leiden University (1996) and wrote her PhD in Human Geography/Development Studies at the University of Amsterdam (2008) based on longterm ethnographic film- and fieldwork in northwestern Syria. For over a decade she worked outside of academia as an independent freelance environmental and social documentary filmmaker and media producer with Television trust for the Environment, BBC World, Al Jazeera English among others. Between 2011 and 2016, she conducted postdoctoral research at Lund University on hydropolitics in the Jordan River Basin and at the Centre for Resolution of International Conflicts (CRIC) and Department of Cross Cultural Studies (ToRS) at the University of Copenhagen on the role of digital media, video activism and YouTube in the Syrian Revolution. Most recently she also has carried out fieldwork and research in relation to the Syrian diaspora and environmentalism and aesthetic activism in the 2019 Sudanese revolution.

Bassel Shehadeh filming in Syria in 2010 © F. Deeb.
Rami Farrah holding up a picture of Basel during a demonstration in Paris © Rami Farrah

In her talk, Josepha Wessels will focus on the development of subversive documentary cinema in Syria since the early 1970s which is part of the multidimensional foundations for the popular uprisings and artistic protests that emerged in the streets of Syria in 2011. She argues that the subversiveness of Syrian documentary cinema is directly

linked to the emergence of critical exchanges between Syrian and Palestinian filmmakers who collaborated artistically and experimentally on cinema and political dialogues in Damascus (Damascus Cinema Club) and Amman (Palestinian Film Unit). This nexus continued to influence a younger generation of Syrian filmmakers throughout the first decade of the rule of Bashar al Assad of whom some became icons and martyrs of the Syrian Revolution. She will exemplify this cinematic development with the works and final film by Basel al Shehadeh, “Streets of Freedom” (production year 2013) and the 2021 film by Abdallah al Khatib “Little Palestine, Diary of a Siege” filmed in the biggest Palestinian refugee camp – Yarmouk, in Damascus, Syria.

Leyla DAKHLI is the Principal Investigator of the ERC-founded program DREAM. She is historian in the French Center for National Research (CNRS) and associated in the Marc Bloch Center in Berlin. Her work deals with the study of Arab intellectuals and social history of the South Mediterranean region, with a particular focus on the history of women and the question of exiled intellectuals and activists. She is a member of the editorial committee of the International Review of Social History (Amsterdam) and Le Mouvement social (Paris), and of the Scientific Committee of the MuCem (Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée, Marseilles).

> Please register at dream@cmb.hu-berlin.de
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