Reframing the ‘Arab Winter’: The Importance of Sleep and a Quiet Atmosphere after ‘Defeated’ Revolutions

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4 Citations (Scopus)


This article offers an alternative approach to the study of atmosphere by examining the relative absence of Egyptian independent music following the military’s return to power in 2014. It argues that periods of quiet, what the Western media has labelled the ‘Arab Winter’, are not reducible to defeat, inactivity, or repression. Instead, they comprise the exploration of third spaces, alternative imaginations, to pre-existing frameworks. Treating the creative work of two Egyptian artists as political theory, it defines a quiet atmosphere as a period composed of nearly-inaudible activity, the relative absence of particular sounds and the illegibility of certain ways of acting, thinking, and speaking in relation to dominant frameworks. The ‘quietness’ of the independent music scene, then, is an indication not that the music has stopped but that it is enacting meaning in ways it had not previously during the revolutionary period (roughly 2011– 2014). Treating sonic absence as meaningful and productive, this article broadly suggests an ethnomusicology of the inaudible, which decentres sound in order to be better attuned to the affects of (sonic) absence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-266
JournalCulture, Theory and Critique
Issue number2-3
Publication statusPublished - 31 Jan 2020


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