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Martyrs and TrickstersAn Ethnography of the Egyptian Revolution$
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Walter Armbrust

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691162645

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691162645.001.0001

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Zizo’s Suicide Letter

(p.239) Postscript
Martyrs and Tricksters

Walter Armbrust

Princeton University Press

This postscript reflects on the ambiguous political song posted by Zizo—the young man the author used to know in Cairo who worked for him all the way to the end of his apartment renovations—on Facebook. It then argues that the existence of the hoped-for subterranean progressive political consciousness spreading beneath everyday oppression is frustratingly intangible. To be sure, previously unpoliticized people who lost friends or witnessed death experienced the revolution as a life-changing event, whether or not it “succeeded” in political terms. Many youths who were already politicized on the eve of the January 25 Revolution remained politicized but were either broken or biding their time in a state of political hibernation—or out of the country if they had the means to leave. The notion that from beneath a state of malaise a transformed generation would emerge to demand its rights is seductive and comforting. But this is a generational proposition. In the short term, militarism ran rampant. Ultimately, the defining feature of a liminal crisis is pure contingency. To put it differently, one can never be entirely sure what will emerge from the void.

Keywords:   political consciousness, oppression, unpoliticized people, revolution, youths, January 25 Revolution, political hibernation, militarism, liminal crisis

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