Abstract

University on the Square Documentation Project: A glimpse into the Economic and Business History Research Center’s Contribution

RANDA KALDAS

American University in Cairo

On January 25, 2011 thousands of Egyptians marched on the streets of all major cities chanting ‘eesh, horreya, ‘adala egtema’eya (bread, freedom, social justice) leading to the toppling down of the then president of Egypt, Hosni Mubarak, on February 11. It wasn’t long till several projects to document the January 25 revolution were conceived.  This is a critical examination of the Economic and Business History Research Center (EBHRC) of the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) contribution to the university-wide documentation project “ University on the Square: Documenting Egypt’s 21st Century Revolution”.    EBHRC staff collected approximately 70 hours of oral narrative from more than 40 interviewees, the majority of which are AUC faculty, staff, students, and alumni while also holding very few interviews with non-AUC community.  The value and use of this collection in and of itself is multi faceted. For the purpose of this research, it is used as an attempt to shed some light on the identity of Egypt’s revolutionaries using oral histories collected by EBHRC as the main research tool.  While interviewees are by and large affiliated to AUC, it may be argued that they are representative of different constituencies within Egyptians, the youth, political activists, the intellectuals, and the working class. Having said so, it is vital to acknowledge the difficulties associated with defining the constituencies coupled with the fact that they may not be mutually exclusive.  It is equally important to recognize the individuality of each person within each constituency. An overview and analysis of a selection of these interviews will give us an insight into the Egyptian revolutionary’s identity.

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