Our lives can become targeted, and the world events can break our innocence of time and space. The political turmoils in many areas of the Middle East have evidently shown us that our imagination of cultural space can change rapidly. International media has been ‘good’ in influencing our views of the significance of recent political turmoils.
Once undergoing a radical process from being a state under oppressive powers, Egypt took a route for re-branding its image in the world. The sequence of events towards a revolution in Egypt took place in Cairo’s Tahrir Square in February 2011. This political performance became a testimony of a new type of nation branding, which operates with the help of global testimony. The advertising value of the events in the international media is in the question of, how did the revolution realize itself through the use of contemporary technologies? The revolution was not only local in terms of its impact, but it was simultaneously taking place in the various surrounding regions, and ultimately it took notice of the entire world through the modern telecommunications devices. SMS messaging, the use of Twitter and Facebook became channels for branding a new and globally more attractive appearance for Egypt. Men and women, young and old, came out from their homes bringing their radical presence, and fighting for the better future.
As a political performance, Tahrir Square stands as an utmost example of branding a nation. The sequence of events radicalized some common ideas that usually stand for the images of Egypt as an ancient, and merely an anti-modern state. The representations of the region’s backwardness, as it comes to people, its ruling power, and even the medieval imaginary created around the cultural artifacts (use of camels etc.), has been holding a strong place in our imagination. These representations were crashed and set in turmoil. Yet, the immediate surface and media representation, the use of stereotypes by the international media, as it discusses Egypt, still seemed to continue.
I went to Egyptian novelist Ahdaf Soueif’s lecture on March 3rd in 2011, as she was lecturing at the Edward W. Said memorial lecture at Columbia University. Her view on the local peoples’ communal actions that gave Egyptians new voice throughout the world, was very moving. It seems now that in today’s global world, nation branding involves voicing that promotes both uniqueness and difference. From the cultural political points of view, critical consciousness started building itself in Egypt, that perhaps elsewhere would transform itself to a milder forms of ‘re-imagining our new nations’. Yet, Egypt’s cultural space became an example of nation building that carries across national borders. Its new imagination has become contested in the global space.