Northwestern Events Calendar


CHSS Workshop: Atef Said, A Spatio-Temporal Analysis of Revolutions

When: Friday, November 15, 2019
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM CT

Where: Parkes Hall, 222, 1870 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Charlotte Rosen  

Group: Comparative-Historical Social Science Working Group

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Before changing his career to academia, Atef Said worked as a human rights attorney and researcher in Egypt from 1995 to 2004, where he practiced human rights law and directed research initiatives in different human rights organizations. He has written two books “Torture in Egypt: A Judicial Reality” (2000), published by the Human Rights Center for the Assistance of Prisoners, and “Torture Is a Crime Against Humanity” (2008), published by the Hisham Mubarak Law Center. Both organizations are based in Cairo, Egypt. He received a Master’s in Sociology and Anthropology from the American University in Cairo, as well as a Master’s and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.

In his PhD dissertation, I studied Cairo’s famed Tahrir Square as both a political space and a lens for understanding the successes and failures of the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Drawing on extensive ethnographic and historical data, he linked the square’s historical constitution as a political space to the long history of political protest in Egypt. The dissertation received the 2014 ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award at the University of Michigan. This Award is given in recognition of the most exceptional scholarly work produced by doctoral students at the University of Michigan who completed their dissertations in 2014.

Said has published articles appearing in journals such as Social Research, International Sociology and Contemporary Sociology, as well as US Amnesty Magazine, the “Immanent Frame” blog of the Social Science Research Council, as well as Oxford Bibliographies in Sociology and the influential news and commentary site of the Arab Studies Institute, Jadaliyya. He also writes for “Mobilizing Ideas,” the online blog of the Center for the Study of Social Movements of Notre Dame University.

He is currently working on my book manuscript that builds upon and expands his dissertation research. The book is tentatively titled “Revolution Squared: The Politics of Space and Time in the Egyptian Revolution." The book asks: How are revolutions defined by their spatiotemporal context? Based upon ethnographic, archival, visual arts, and social-media based research conducted between 2011–2015, he considers this question in relation to the 2011 Egyptian Revolution. Specifically, he investigates three things: 1) How and why did the Egyptian Revolution become solely associated with and, in turn, reduced to, the events in Tahrir Square?; 2) How did this naming and narrowing of attention affect events themselves? In other words, how was the spatio-temporal understanding of the revolution constitutive of what actually happened on the ground?; and 3) To what extent and how did all of these processes contribute to the dramatic expansion of political space in the immediate aftermath of the revolution, and the equally dramatic contraction of that space in the years that followed?

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