“Meticulous scholarship” & “very provocative”


About the book:

Egypt’s Housing Crisis takes presidential speeches, parliamentary reports, legislation, and official statistics as the basis with which to investigate the tools that officials have used to ‘solve’ the housing crisis—rent control, social housing, and amnesties for informal self-building—as well as the inescapable reality of these policies’ outcomes. Yahia Shawkat argues that wars, mass displacement, and rural–urban migration played a part in creating the problem early on, but that neoliberal deregulation, crony capitalism and corruption, and neglectful planning have made things steadily worse ever since. In the final analysis he asks, is affordable housing for all really that hard to achieve?


“An erudite, comprehensive, and impressively presented study of meticulous scholarship….very highly recommended.”—Midwest Book Review

“Shawkat’s book does not only offer a detailed and thoroughly referenced history of housing policies in Egypt since their introduction in the 1940s, but it also gives a thorough mapping of many elements of the housing problem, especially those related to affordability and finance.”—Al-Ahram Weekly

“Very provocative”—Karim Malak, Borderlines, a journal of Comparative Studies of South Asia Africa and the Middle East (CSSAAME)

“Finally, a tour de force that explains, historicizes, and critiques Egypt’s poorly targeted, ineffective, and unfair housing policies which have excluded those in need from decent housing while producing millions of vacant apartments in rural and urban areas. Shawkat’s seminal contribution convincingly unpacks the complex but traceable legislative, financial, social, economic, and political roots of this untenable housing environment over eight decades.”—Diane Singerman, American University

“A great deal has been said and written about Egypt’s perpetual housing ‘crisis’ over the past three decades. This book offers the first comprehensive examination of the housing question from the historical, political, economic, and spatial outlooks. Written by one of the most erudite observers in the field, it addresses a critical question that lies at the heart of the social-policy crisis and popular contention.”—Asef Bayat, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

“Egypt’s Housing Crisis provides novel insights into the historical evolution of the varied causes and consequences of Egypt’s housing problems, focusing primarily on the vicissitudes of successive postcolonial regimes’ ideologies, discourses, and policies in contexts of unprecedented urbanization and heightened demand for housing. Shawkat combines superb archival research with critical analyses to lift the veil on a multi-layered and apparently opaque housing system, characterized by capricious assertions of power at all levels of society. Ordinary Egyptians’ experiences of informality and insecurity, particularly in times of neoliberalism, are constantly foregrounded to give a human face to an apparently intractable housing crisis.”—Noor Nieftagodien, University of the Witwatersrand

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