Egypt is not for Sale! Harnessing Nationalism for Alliance Building in Egypt’s Tiran and Sanafir Island Protests
Jannis Grimm – 2019
Adopting a discourse-theoretical perspective on contentious politics in Egypt, this article investigates how in early 2016 the transfer of the archipelago of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia became a catalyst for oppositional subject formation and the emergence of an unlikely protest coalition. Drawing on a combination of protest event analysis and discourse analysis, it explores how the land swap provided the opposition with an opportunity to challenge the state’s nationalist prestige, and produced relations that favoured cross-movement mobilisation. The so-called ‘Popular Campaign to Protect the Land’ brought together leftists, liberals and nationalists, and thus enabled the articulation of broader socio-political demands in an otherwise closed context. The case study illustrates how dissonance between the discourse and practices of nationalist regimes can trigger cross-ideological collaboration. It furthermore shows how the emergence, as well as the trajectory and goals of such alliances, are shaped by interaction with the state.