Feminine Plural: Representations of Vulnerabilities and Vulnerabilities of Representations - Narratives of Women in Contemporary Egyptian Cinema
Ahmed Assaad, Jacinthe
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Huda Shaarawi’s purposeful unveiling in 1919 and the violent undressing of the girl in the blue bra in 2011 trace a narrative arc that begins with the birth of the Egyptian nation and end with the collapse of the state. These representative moments are engulfed by a nationalist discourse that appropriates the female figure to raise sentiments of loyalty, solidarity and belonging, a discourse that has resurfaced in and since the 2011 Egyptian revolution. National narratives come to replace personal female narratives. Feminine Plural explores the patterns of signification implied between both iconic moments, through a critical examination of four contemporary Egyptian films, in order to understand how various, and often divergent, representations of women’s modalities affect the marked social and political positions of women in Egyptian society. What meanings does cinema as cultural production articulate, negotiate and ultimately project of women’s identities and modes of being? How can we account for the complex patterns of subjectivity that we have a moral duty to understand, and simultaneously explain the connections between the visual reproduction of women and their systematic political marginalization? I examine the narratives constructs of female identities and subjectivities, and the complex patterns of social and political relations that four exemplary films offer: Scheherazade Tell Me A Story directed by Yousry Nasrallah (2009), Cairo 678 directed by Mohamed Diab (2010), This Is Chaos directed by Youssef Chahine and Khaled Youssef (2007), and finally The Yacoubian Building directed by Marwan Hamed (2006). The content of these films provide considerable imaginative insight into the social and cultural inscriptions of gender roles and relations in society.