Creating Spaces of Hope

Creating Spaces of Hope

Young Artists and the New Imagination in Egypt

Caroline Seymour-Jorn


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An exploration of how young artists imagine and maintain hope in post-revolutionary Egypt

Creating Spaces of Hope explores some of the newest, most dynamic creativity emerging from young artists in Egypt and the way in which these artists engage, contest, and struggle with the social and political landscape of post-revolutionary Egypt.

How have different types of artists—studio artists, graffiti artists, musicians and writers—responded personally and artistically to the various stages of political transformation in Egypt since the January 25 revolution? What has the political or social role of art been in these periods of transition and uncertainty? What are the aesthetic shifts and stylistic transformations present in the contemporary Egyptian art world?

Based on personal interviews with artists over many years of research in Cairo, Caroline Seymour-Jorn moves beyond current understandings of creative work primarily as a form of resistance or political commentary, providing a more nuanced analysis of creative production in the Arab world. She argues that in more recent years these young artists have turned their creative focus increasingly inward, to examine issues having to do with personal relationships, belonging and inclusion, and maintaining hope in harsh social, political and economic circumstances. She shows how Egyptian artists are constructing “spaces of hope” that emerge as their art or writing becomes a conduit for broader discussion of social, political, personal, and existential ideas, thereby forging alternative perspectives on Egyptian society, its place in the region and in the larger global context.


Caroline Seymour-Jorn:
Caroline Seymour-Jorn is associate professor of comparative literature and Arabic translation at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the author of Cultural Criticism in Egyptian Women's Writing: Anthropological and Literary Perspectives (2011).