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Human resiliency, creative insurgency, and The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Review of The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative insurgency in the Arab world. (Review)

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Review of The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative insurgency in the Arab world, by Marwan M. Kraidy, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2016, 304 pp., $39.93 (hardcover), ISBN 9780674737082 (The book review author's original given title of
  Full Terms & Conditions of access and use can be found at Text and Performance Quarterly ISSN: 1046-2937 (Print) 1479-5760 (Online) Journal homepage: The naked blogger of Cairo: creative insurgency inthe Arab world Shane T. Moreman To cite this article:  Shane T. Moreman (2017) The naked blogger of Cairo: creativeinsurgency in the Arab world, Text and Performance Quarterly, 37:3-4, 283-285, DOI:10.1080/10462937.2017.1332774 To link to this article: Published online: 14 Jun 2017.Submit your article to this journal Article views: 47View Crossmark data  Chambers-Letson, Joshua Takano.  A Race So Different: Performance and Law in Asian America . New York:New York UP, 2013.Houston, Velina Hasu.  “ Tea. ”  Unbroken Thread: An Anthology of Plays by Asian American Women . Ed.Roberta Uno. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993.Kogawa, Joy.  Itsuka . New York: Anchor Books, 1992.Lee, Josephine.  Performing Asian America: Race and Ethnicity on the Contemporary Stage . Philadelphia: TempleUP, 1998.Lin, Justin (Dir.).  Better Luck Tomorrow  . MTV Films, 2003.Shimakawa, Karen.  National Abjection: The Asian American Body Onstage . Durham: Duke UP, 2002.Smith, Anna Deavere.  Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 . New York: Anchor Books, 1994.Wilder, Thornton.  Our Town: A Play in Three Acts . New York: Harper Collins, 2003.Wong, Elizabeth.  “ Kimchee and Chitlins. ”  But Still Like Air, I  ’   ll Rise . Ed. Velina Hasu Houston. Philadelphia:Temple UP, 1997.Yee, Lauren.  “ Ching Chong Chinaman. ”  Asian American Plays for a New Generation . Eds. Josephine Lee, DonEitel, and R.A. Shiomi. Philadelphia: Temple UP, 2011. Kelly I. Chung  Northwestern University, Evanston, IL, USA © 2017 Kelly I. Chung The naked blogger of Cairo: creative insurgency in the Arab world , by MarwanM. Kraidy, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press, 2016, 304 pp., $39.93 (hardcover),ISBN 9780674737082 In  The Naked Blogger of Cairo: Creative Insurgency in the Arab World  , Marwan M. Kraidy starts by quoting Michel Foucault: What on earth is it that can set off in an individual the desire, the capacity, and the possibility of an absolute sacrifice without our being able to recognize or suspect the slightest ambitionor desire for power or profit? Foucault ’ s question concerns the Tunisian riots of March 1968. Then Kraidy transitions focusto a more contemporary example of absolute sacri fi ce  –  that of Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed al-Bouazizi ’ s self-immolation which became the catalyst for the Arab uprisings (known in theWest as the Arab Spring). Throughout  The Naked Blogger of Cairo , and within the contextof the Arab uprising, Kraidy harmonizes high theory, wide-ranging research and gracefulwording, transforming Bouazizi and key others into agentic beings who are both humanand humane. In fl uenced by Merleau-Ponty, Kraidy grants new insight into an establishedtheme in performance studies: bodies are our sources of creative possibilities out of impossiblelogics.Kraidy  ’ s contribution to theorizing the body never feels clichéd nor derivative  –  indeed hisideas bring fresh insight into how bodies can be theorized in contemporary times. An evolve-ment from his foundational work in critical media studies and cultural hybridity research,  TheNaked Blogger of Cairo  utilizes the historical moment of the Arab uprisings and the modernmoment of our digital lives to re-think how the contemporary body enters into and alterspublic discourse within a digitally-linked world via tried-and-true artistic formats. Researching within three national contexts  –  Tunisia, Egypt, and Syria  –  Kraidy acknowledges a world inwhich internet access is not necessarily universal but in which political protest is. To do so, he  TEXT AND PERFORMANCE QUARTERLY 283  coins the term  “ creative insurgency  ”  and then explores application of that concept with realworld examples within real world events that are continuing even into the real experiencesof today. As he states,  The Naked Blogger of Cairo develops the notion of creative insurgency to explore the mixture of activism and artistry characteristic of revolutionary expression and tracks the social transformation of activismin Art and ensuing controversies. At the heart of these processes is the human body astool, medium, symbol, and metaphor. (5) The main three exemplars for creative insurgency are three activist performances: Burning Man, Laughing Cow, and the person for whom the book is titled,  The Naked Blogger of Cairo .Written in five parts, the book could be divided up with any or all parts being used to teachcontemporary activist techné ’ s relationship to theories of performance and/or of communi-cation. Studying the entirety of the  The Naked Blogger of Cairo  book in my graduate-levelCommunication Theory course, my students quickly took to Kraidy  ’ s body-as-aesthetic-resist-ance sensibility. Over his academic publishing career, Kraidy has perfected a writing voice thatis crisply analytical but with a tone that is charmingly fun. He adds personal narrative at all theright moments and spins high theory at all the necessary times. He is the accessible professorwho gracefully lays out Arabic etymologies while also playfully provides blue-noted parables.However, for all his convivial seductions, he still demands the reader to confront complex ideasby challenging readers to consider creative insurgency outside of U.S. logics and beyondWestern orientalism. Importantly, these complex ideas are grounded in situations that stillcontinue around us today. Thus, there is a timeliness to his book that makes it both revealing and relevant.After reading   The Naked Blogger of Cairo , I had the opportunity to travel throughout upperand lower Egypt. Looking out over the Nile River from the center of the Aswan High Dam, Istood with Omar [name changed], a late-twenties father from Alexandria. Also having a careerin a national company, Omar supplements his income by using his academic training in Egyp-tian history and politics to be a cultural guide. For this particular part of my Egyptian sightsee-ing, Omar was educating me on the modern engineering feat of damming the Nile River.Shifting conversation, I began to ask him questions about Alexandria in 2010 and the resulting protests that had spread throughout the country. Omar shepherded me away from the othersso that we could talk openly about Egyptian politics without being reported to any authorities.His story was laced with the ways that communication spread through social media; and itended with a discomfort that el-Sisi is now in power. We both groped for a way to concludethe conversation in a positive way, eventually discussing the Arabic influence on the Spanishlanguage, specifically with the words  “ ojalá ”  and  “ insha ’ Allah ” What Omar articulated and what Kraidy amplifies is that those rebellions were moments of brittle sacrifice with no guarantees of pay off. Seeking to answer Foucault ’ s question, Kraidy states: Even if the specter of death is the ultimate adversary of the rise of the revolutionary person,creative insurgency endures, for the struggle to reclaim popular sovereignty from the body of the tyrant is ongoing, however tortuous and arduous a path it follows. (223) Listening to Omar, I was reminded that seeking to understand Burning Man, Laughing Cow,and the Naked Blogger of Cairo, we need to circle back to bodies  –  real bodies  –  pursuing thedignity of being human. Throughout his book, Kraidy spares little detail in how dif  fi cult revo-lution is. Omar ’ s story con fi rmed those dif  fi culties, bringing them to fore with a candid mate-riality. And like Kraidy, Omar still  fi nds optimism in human resiliency. For Omar, an ancient 284 BOOK REVIEWS  history is empirical evidence that humans persevere; and for Kraidy, creative insurgency is themethod for such perseverance.Shane T. Moreman California State University, Fresno, USA © 2017 Shane T. Moreman Tourist attractions: performing race & masculinity in Brazil ’ s sexual economy , byGregory Mitchell, Chicago, IL and London, England, University of Chicago Press, 2016,274 pp., $30.00 (Paperback), ISBN-13:978-0-226-30910-1 Tourist Attractions: Performing Race & Masculinity in Brazil  ’   s Sexual Economy   written by Gregory Mitchell examines how the homosexual/bisexual/transgendered sexual economy of Brazil operates within the social fabric of Brazilian culture and though accepted, on thesurface, as an integral piece of that fabric  –  on an economic and social level  –  there are stillareas where the sexual trade for money is not openly spoken of widely throughout Brazil.Mitchell ’ s extensive and lengthy ethnographic work and amount of time he invested in his par-ticipant observation of the society and culture of the garatos and their families, their life stylesand the various working conditions of the garatos provides the reader a comprehensive pointof view of the garatos life. Mitchell ’ s dedication to maintaining an objective point of view, alsoenhances the credibility of his work.The chapters of this book delves into the experiences and obstacles faced by the garatos whoare mainly Brazilian men, though some are of African descent, or can be from Africa or theUnited States or Europe, who are active in the tourist sex trade of Brazil and work in the saunas  (i.e. bathhouses or bagnio). Many of these men profess to be straight men asopposed to homosexual, bisexual or transgendered; however throughout the course of theirlives of working in the various  saunas,  there are a few straight men who will  “ come out ”  asgay, which when they   “ come out ”  actually changes how they interact with their clients andother garatos. The garatos, and their customers who can be expatriates (specifically fromthe United States) or part of the burgeoning homosexual tourist sex business, face many obstacles and challenges that need to be overcome in order to assimilate into the cultural pat-terns and expected norms of the community in which the garatos and their customers occupy.The chapters continuously highlight how the garato, and customer, adapt to the masculine andsexual environment while at the same time maintaining their own culture and identity. By incorporating the voice of the garato the intricate level of relationship between the garatoand their clients is revealed.The vivid vignettes portrayed explore the intricate levels of relationships experienced by thegaratos and their customers. There is the layer of relationship between the two men  –  garatoand customer. Some garatos hope to become boyfriends or kept men of their customer and livetheir life style. Conversely, the garatos also endeavor to maintain their own family life (wife,children, and parents) and know that the work-life they are employed in creates a duality within them  –  to play the sex partner and to play the role of parent, wife and son. The custo-mer ’ s role in this complex relationship teeters between simply wanting the experience of thesexual act (especially if the customer professes to be straight and is looking for the homosexual  TEXT AND PERFORMANCE QUARTERLY 285
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