SOAS University of London

Centre for Media Studies, School of Arts

Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso

BA (McGill), MA (AUC), MA (SOAS, University of London)
  • Overview
  • Research


Rounwah Bseiso
Rounwah Adly Riyadh Bseiso
Email address:
Thesis title:
Revolutionizing Art, Remaking Politics: Narratives of Cultural Producers on Cairo’s Streets post-2011
Year of Study:
Internal Supervisors

PhD Research

This thesis explores the debates surrounding the meaning and role of art, its processes, and its relationship to “doing politics” and understanding the political through the narratives of cultural producers on the streets of Cairo. Through a series of conversations and active interviews in the aftermath of the Egyptian uprising (during the time period after Mohammad Morsi’s ouster and up until Abdel Fattah El-Sisi’s election) with twenty five artists and non-artists alike, this research proposes an alternative (and localized) discussion of the informal world of art outside the institutional (and nation centered) framework from below (the streets of Cairo), within a very specific moment in time in Egyptian history.

By using the Egyptian revolution as backdrop in which to examine individual narratives of lived experiences before and after the uprising, it focuses on the street as the a key site of cultural struggle in which to examine the contestations over meaning of art and its relationship to politics during and after the Egyptian uprising. The thesis argues that while the actual art works produced on the street are significant as visible products of the revolutionary imaginary, we should avoid over-romanticizing the art of the revolution, and instead turn a critical eye behind the visible art object towards the invisible dynamics of its production, through the experiences and encounters which manifest in its creation.

The inclusion of rich narratives from cultural producers provides critical insight regarding the experiences and encounters with culture and politics in the informal cultural domain, both during and after the Egyptian uprising. The street remains an intense battleground and a key site of contestation and struggle in cultural producers attempt to re-define dominant understandings of art by acting as interveners and mediators in order to make art more accessible and relevant to the everyday realities of ordinary Egyptians - the majority of which are already marginalized by the state dominated cultural scene. In this way, this thesis aims to highlight the importance of individual narratives in understanding how they creatively constitute “new” meanings of art by altering its dynamics, and how it relates to “doing politics” in novel and unconventional ways in the cultural field.

PhD Publications

  • Book Chapter (forthcoming), entitled 'Making Art Relevant: The Cultural Politics of the Egyptian Street after the Uprising'
  • Journal article (forthcoming), entitled 'Revolutionizing Art and Locating its Potential for Liberation on Cairo’s Streets'

PhD Conferences

  • Troubled Contemporary Art Practices in the Middle East: Post-colonial conflicts, Pedagogies of Art History, and Precarious Artistic Mobilization, June 2016. Presenter on the Political Art Panel – “Revolutionizing Art on Cairo’s Streets” (Organized by Birkbeck University of London and the University of Nicosia, and held at the University of Nicosia, Cyprus).
  • Techniques of Art and Protest, King’s College London, September 2015. Presenter on the Art, Activism, & Institutions Panel - “Contesting the Role and Relationship of Art and the Political in the Streets of Cairo”. Organised by the Politically Led Art & Networked Knowledge (PLANK) research group, and supported by the Graduate School at Goldsmiths College, and the Department of Culture, Media & Creative Industries, King’s College London.


  • London Middle East Institute (LMEI)
  • Membership with the British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES)


  • Cultural Studies
  • International Development
  • Media Studies
  • Contentious Politics
  • Political Communication
  • Politics
  • International Human Rights Law
  • Refugees
  • Palestine
  • Middle East Studies
  • Middle East Politics
  • Visual Culture