Abstract by Ottoman History Podcast:
History often reaches us in visual forms: documents, books, images, monuments, and so forth. But the experiences of past people encompassed all of the human senses. Visceral moments do not always have a verbal dimension, and our most indelible memories are often tied to touch, smell, and sound. In this mini-series, we explore the sonic history of modern Egypt through four episodes about pivotal moments in Egypt's political history. In doing so, we use sound as a gateway onto the experiences of ordinary Egyptians whose voices have often been excluded from the sources and dominant narratives of academic history.
Our series on “The Sound of Revolution in Modern Egypt” covers a century of history from the First World War to the present day. We feature the songs and memory of Egyptian laborers in the British army and consdier how they offer a different narrative of the 1919 Egyptian Revolution. We explore the soundscape of interwar Cairo and the class politics that played out on the level of sensory experience. We analyze the triumphant music that accompanied the construction of the Aswan High Dam during the Nasserist period and the subaltern songs of Nubian communities displaced in the process. And we enjoy some treasures of the cassette era, during which new recording technology created an underground for personal, artistic, and political expression. We conclude with a brief reflection on the sounds of revolution from Tahrir Square in 2011 and the echoes of modern Egyptian history contained within them.