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Towards the production of meaning : Visualising, Enacting and Writing Histories in times of political upheaval

Alia Mossallam;

Moments of political upheaval often stir the dust on questions of political struggles of the past. Are these movements truly unprecedented, and what invisible legacies could they be pulling through? Historical research and historical writing - particularly in the fields of politics and struggle - thus acquire a different significance, they become a task of unearthing legacies, of making accessible the possibilities (if often unrealised) of change and the strategies of achieving them.

In this presentation, I will raise the main questions (ethical and theoretical) faced by historians of popular struggle today, and how these questions have been tackled by Public History Projects of historians of Egypt, South Africa and the Atlantic. Bringing forth various theses on the philosophy of historical research and writing in moments of struggle.

Alia Mossallam holds a PhD in Political Science. Her dissertation explores a popular history of Nasserist Egypt through stories told and songs sung by people behind the 1952 revolution. She has taught at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS), and holds the series of workshops ‘Reclaiming Revolutionary Histories’ with students, activists and artists in governorates all over Egypt, an experiment in history-telling. From 2017 to 2019 Mossallam is a EUME-FU Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien with a fellowship of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.

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