Flanked by the Museum of Antiquities on one side, blocked from the Nile by the symbolic bulk of an American hotel, Tahrir Square in Egypt remains an inspiring traffic-ringed expanse. With Tienanmen Square it is one of the world’s great political squares symbolic of tragedy and unity. It became synonymous with the Arab Spring occupation and inspired uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Although the occupation was a punctuation point it demonstrated the power of social media to mobilize populations. Cut up by parking infrastructure that makes it inaccessible and inhospitable to anyone on foot, its emptiness is striking. However, the flag pole in one corner remains a point of orientation, memory and assembly.
-Rob Shields (Univ. of Alberta)