Death lies at the beginning of the Arab uprisings, and death continues to haunt them. Most narratives about the 'Arab Spring' begin with Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian fruit vendor who set himself on fire. Egyptian protesters in turn referred to Khaled Said, a young man from Alexandria whom the police had beaten to death. This book places death at the centre of its engagement with the Arab uprisings, counterrevolutions, and their aftermaths. It examines martyrdom and commemoration as performative acts through which death and life are infused with meaning. Conversely, it shows how, in the making, remembering, and erasing of martyrs, hierarchies are (re)produced and possible futures are foreclosed. The contributors argue that critical anthropological engagement with death, martyrdom, and afterlife is indispensable if we want to understand the making of pasts and futures in a revolutionary present. This book was originally published as a special issue of Ethnos: Journal of Anthropology.
Amira Mittermaier is an Associate Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations at the University of Toronto, Canada. She is the author of the award-winning book Dreams that Matter: Egyptian Landscapes of the Imagination (2010).
Introduction: Death and Martyrdom in the Arab Uprisings Amira Mittermaier
1. Civics Lesson: Ambivalence, Contestation, and Curricular Change in Tunisia Joel Rozen
2. Technologies of Immortality, 'Good Endings', and Martyrdom in Urban Egypt Farha Ghannam
3. To Die is Gain: Singing a Heavenly Citizenship among Egypt's Coptic Christians Carolyn M. Ramzy
4. Reckoning with the Inevitable: Death and Dying among Syrian Christians during the Uprising Andreas Bandak
5. The Martyr Pop Moment: Depoliticizing Martyrdom Daniel J. Gilman