The Cry for Human Rights: Violence, Transition, and the Egyptian Revolution
Abstract

This paper interrogates moments in which American corporate media, the U.S. government, and U.S. academic discourses have relied upon what we call a liberal-Orientalist “cry for human rights” to represent the Egyptian revolution. We focus on U.S. public discussions regarding: 1) the process of transition following the Egyptian revolution, and 2) violence—specifically, gendered sexual violence and torture in Egypt. We are particularly concerned with how this framing of human rights both relies upon and reinforces global neoliberalism and its attendant forms of violence. We argue that analyses framed as a “cry for human rights” fail to account for the complex and dynamic historical and political contexts in which violence and transition take place, and the multiple, interconnected structures of power that impact revolutionary change. Far from questioning the value of protecting women’s rights or human rights, our goals are to examine the limitations inherent to liberal-Orientalist epistemological frameworks and highlight the connections between interpersonal violence, Egyptian state violence, and U.S.-led imperial practices in Egypt.


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