The power of nonsense: humour in Egypt’s counter/revolution

Jessica Winegar*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


This article analyzes a popular Mubarak era film series (al-Limby) and a post-uprising satirical television programme (al-Bernameg) to show how humour has a powerful capacity to create nonsense out of the ‘sense’ that authoritarian regimes attempt to impose on society. In the Mubarak years, such films presented criticism of rising economic inequalities and state oppression. Post-2011 uprising satire similarly became a primary site for criticism of state oppression and regime politics. They were examples of a redistribution of the nonsensical (drawing on Rancière) and gradual creative insurgency (drawing on Kraidy). Yet at the same time, even seemingly revolutionary humour can reproduce hegemonic ‘common sense’ that upholds broader social hierarchies, particularly those related to gender, class, and religion. Thus, this article argues that humour can be critical to both revolutionary and counter-revolutionary sense-making.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)44-58
Number of pages15
JournalBritish Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • History
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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