Translating the Egyptian Revolution

Activist use of translation to connect with global publics and protest movements.

Screenshot from the introductory video About Mosireen
Screenshot from the introductory video About Mosireen

This AHRC Fellowship, awarded to Professor Mona Baker, examines the language-based practices that allow Egyptian protestors to contest dominant narratives of the Revolution and, importantly, to connect with, influence and learn from global movements of protest.

The study focuses on the use of subtitling and other forms of translation by various groups of well educated Egyptians who have the language resources to provide an alternative interface with global audiences, one that projects a different account of the events in Egypt than can be found in mainstream sources and simultaneously questions hegemonic, patriarchal narratives circulating within Egyptian society.

A cornerstone of the political activities of such groups is the production and circulation of audiovisual material – documentary video clips which are made available on the internet, shown in activist events, and often screened in street gatherings.

Some of the videos document police and army abuse, others analyse areas of social inequality, and others still feature interviews with a diverse range of women who have been involved in street protests, to document the central role they played in the uprising.

This documentary material is then subtitled, primarily into English, in order to reach a wider global public and intervene in shaping narratives of the Revolution that circulate internationally.

Based on interviews, analysis of video material and participant observation, the study aims to offer a nuanced, empirical account of how citizen media groups connected with the Egyptian Revolution function, how they mobilise volunteer translators, and what their modes of practice, including the selection of texts and audiovisual material to translate, might reveal about the extent to which they are embedded in the culture of global movements of collective action.

In doing so, it hopes to demonstrate that translation is a key and pervasive mode of interaction that exercises significant influence on the way we come to understand the events unfolding around us at any moment in time.

Find out more information about Professor Mona Baker using the link below: