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Turning ‘defeat’ into ‘victory’: The Power of Discourse on the 1973 War in Egypt

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/11/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Middle Eastern Studies
Issue number6
Volume52
Number of pages20
Pages (from-to)897-916
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date18/08/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The article examines the construction of the 1973 war as a legitimating discourse in Egypt. After an analysis of formal texts (for example, school textbooks), semi-formal texts (for example, the Ahram newspaper) and informal texts (for example, songs scripted to commemorate the event), the article finds a pattern which constructed the war as a ‘massive, consistent and unquestionable’ victory for Egypt under the rule of Anwar Sadat (1971–81). Based on critical discourse analysis of these previously untapped texts over the eight years of Sadat's rule after the war and drawn on primary sources and interviews, the article traces the genealogy and operationalization of discourse through exploring linguistic and extra-linguistic features synchronized towards the efficacy, durability and credibility of this process. The essay finds that the discourse retains an appearance of coherence, since it is always so closely attuned to its broader state-controlled political context. Rather than inferring from this coherence that the discourse is as historically ‘truthful’ as any other, this study provides hard evidence that it relies instead upon intentional falsehoods.