This semester, I asked one of my students, Rebecca Clayman ’17, to do research and write descriptions for a series of four Egyptian stickers from the Arab Spring protests for the Street Art Graphics digital archive (scroll down and click on “Egypt”). Since neither of us reads or speaks Arabic, Rebecca interviewed Gisele El Khoury, the director of St. Lawrence University’s Language Resource Center and Arabic professor. Dating from the beginning of the uprisings in 2011, the stickers are in bright bold colors: blue (“electoral process”), purple (“freedom”), green (“democracy”), and red (“social justice”). Gisele provided the Arabic script and English translations for each sticker, and Arline Wolfe, the library’s arts metadata technician, provided subject headings using her standard set of controlled vocabularies (U.S. Library of Congress, etc.). Here is one example of the team effort:
“The Arab Spring revolution in Egypt fought against the thirty-year regime of President Hosni Mubarak through anti-government and pro-democracy protests. Inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia weeks beforehand, the Egyptian protests began in January 2011. This sticker, written in Egyptian colloquial Arabic, is one in a series of four with colorful political messages. The empowering slogan at the top of each sticker من دلوقتي حاعرف حقي means ‘Starting this moment, I know my right.’ In the center, the phrase العملية الانتخابية translates to the ‘electoral process.’ At the bottom, the text يعني صوتي أنا يعيّن رئيس الجمهورية means ‘my voice (vote) will decide the president of the republic’.”
During subsequent discussions with Gisele, she showed me an amazing interactive timeline related to the Arab Spring dating between December 19, 2011, and December 17, 2012. Produced by the Guardian, The path of protest outlines “protest/government response to protest,” “political move,” “regime change,” and “international/external response” for hundreds of different events spanning 17 countries with links to full articles in the Guardian for each event.
In the fall of 2014, Gisele will be teaching a three-week course unit on the “Arab Spring through Graffiti,” and she and I are talking about various mapping techniques for our respective street art projects.
Special thanks to Rebecca, Gisele, and Arline for their work on this series of stickers.