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The Cities Seminar 'Revolutionary Enactment'

Friday 29 January 2016
Vondelzaal, UB
Singel 425

Revolutionary Enactment: Pedagogical Interventions on the Streets of Cairo

The Cities Seminar of the University of Amsterdam is hosting Dr. Mark Westmoreland who will deliver the lecture “Revolutionary Enactment: Pedagogical Interventions on the Streets of Cairo”.

In his talk, Westmoreland will discuss an experimental pedagogical video project, made in the wake of the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, that draws upon the emerging mobile aesthetics of cellphone filmmaking and public encounters with revolutionary spontaneity. The ubiquitous presence of mobile cameras during the protests in Tahrir Square, among other places, became indicative of a new visual culture, in which the street offered new opportunities for public modes of witnessing and political participation.

Given the historic precedent of these events, this project responded to the urgent methodological possibilities afforded by publicly engaging people on the streets with a modest video camera. Inspired by the landmark cinéma-vérité film, Chronique d’un été (Rouch & Morin, 1960), in which participants asked people on the streets of Paris if they were happy, several of my students at the American University in Cairo in the fall of 2012 became mobile film units, asking people the same innocuous question, “Inta mabsoot? / Inti mabsoota?” – Are you happy? Are you content?

This seemingly benign exercise belies a variety of conceptual and methodological frictions, but it is precisely within the context of these challenges that productive pedagogical possibilities emerged. This project thus intended to arrive at new forms of knowledge by both attuning to the emergent image-making practices of the region and drawing upon the street’s generative energy. Accordingly, this talk explores the re-enactment of critical video practices and the kinds of affective knowledge produced for those on screen, behind the camera, and viewing from a distance.

The Cities Seminar - University of Amsterdam

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