'More Powerful than Politics’: Affective Magic in the DIY Music Activism after Egypt’s 2011 Revolution

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Abstract

With a return to authoritarian rule only a few years after the initially successful 2011 revolution, some Egyptian DIY musicians have made it a point to avoid the political. These musicians consider the ordinary politics of discursive critique and public protest to be ineffective and have opted to continue the revolution by appealing to the ineffable properties of listening as a less ideologically driven way to produce social change. This article explores how and why the sonic ineffable is believed to be a more utopian form of politics. It argues that mobilizing ‘magic’ is a particularly positioned solution to political failure that obscures the relations of power it perpetuates. Building from 30 months of ethnographic research conducted in Egypt among DIY musicians between 2010 and 2017, it avoids a romanticisation of the ineffable, showing instead how utilising the ambiguity between the conscious and subconscious aspects of sonic experience is a political tool not removed from power.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)54-72
JournalPopular Music
Volume38
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2019

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