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CIRCLING THE SQUARE: ARCHITECTURE AND REVOLUTION IN CAIRO

When millions of protesters gathered in Tahrir Square in Cairo this winter, they were linked as much by communications technologies as by the sheer spaces that surrounded them. Indeed, if the revolutionary movements sweeping across the Middle East and North Africa have been framed largely in terms of texts and tweets, the protesters’ momentous actions are no less inseparable from the very sites through which they moved and in which they assembled. Tahrir Square, in particular, is a densely layered territory in which the modern meets the Mamluk, Haussmannian vistas meet cold-war brutalism, and networked paths meet the open agora. The facades and structures of the square’s built environment carry an intense political and cultural charge. Artforum asked renowned architectural historian and critic Nasser Rabbat to shed light on this extraordinary public arena, its historic energies, and its

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