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The Arts of Revolution in the Middle East events at Duke explore the relationships between politics and aesthetics, with a particular focus on  the democratic potential of popular forms of expression. The Arab Spring uprisings have been a site and source of new forms of expression, channeled through new media, written on the walls of the cities of the Middle East, performed on bodies, and chanted in streets. Freedom of speech, so long suppressed under authoritarian government, has flowered through cracks in the façade of iron rule. The dismantling of state censorship on expression—whether political, artistic, intellectual, popular, religious, digital, and journalistic—led to an effervescence of street theatre, graffiti, rap, poetry, poster art, and film. In our March 2014 conference and related events, we explore the varied expressions of spontaneous, eruptive freedom and ponder what the future might bring.
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