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Lecture | LUCIS What's New?! Series

Longing to the Gray: Nostalgia, Nationalism and Social Media

Thursday 3 March 2022
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What's New?! Spring Lecture Series 2022
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

What does it mean to remember together in the digital age? How do social media platforms foster the production of alternative imaginaries of the nation and nationalism? And what roles do vintage photographs and memorabilia play in the formulation of nostalgic narratives? This lecture examines nostalgic discourses of al-zaman al-gamīl (the good old days) as they appear across mainstream Arab social media platforms a decade after its uprisings. It focuses primarily on discourses that present themselves as “apolitical” refraining from defining the “golden era” to political projects or historical periodizations. Instead, this discourse is bound to, and expressive of, an ideal of a conservative “good life” that is pitted against an “ugly” and “immoral” present. Against the tendency of public intellects to dismiss nostalgia as form of escapism that risks falsifying historical consciousness, this lecture aims to take nostalgic narratives seriously and to unpack the imaginaries of the ideal and utopian worlds ingrained in them. As such, it contributes to current debates on time, temporality, and representations of history in the present.

About Nermin Elsherif

Nermin Elsherif is currently finishing a PhD in Cultural Studies in Amsterdam School for Heritage, Memory and Material Culture (UvA) where she is a MSCA-INT fellow of the project CHEurope. Her work stands at the intersection of media studies with heritage and memory studies. Before joining the University of Amsterdam, Nermin taught between the Arab Academy for Science and technology and the German University in Cairo.

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