In the light of the escalation of sectarian tensions during and after Mubarak’s reign, the predicament of the Arab world’s largest religious minority, the Copts, has come to the forefront. This book poses such questions as why there has been a mass exodus of Copts from Egypt, and how this relates to other religious minorities in the Arab region; why it is that sectarian violence increased during and after the 2011 Revolution, which epitomized the highest degree of national unity since 1919; and how the new configuration of power has influenced the extent to which a vision of a political order is being based on the principles of inclusive democracy. The book examines the relations among the state, the Church, Coptic citizenry, and civil and political societies against the backdrop of the increasing diversification of actors, the change of political leadership in the country, and the transformations occurring in the region. An informative historical background is provided, and new fieldwork and statistical data inform a thoughtful exploration of what it takes to build an inclusive democracy in post-Mubarak Egypt.
Based on unstructured interviews with thirteen Romanian–Egyptian couples presently living in Cairo, this study focuses on three interrelated aspects of these mixed marriages: the contexts that allowed the formation of the mixed families; the practices in which the couples engage in terms of household organization, gender relations, and kinship; and the role of religion in the lives of the mixed couples and how both the men and women position themselves in this regard. Cairo Papers Vol. 28, No. 1
This monograph centers on the effort to understand the issue of return migration to Palestine from a sociological point of view. Six papers examine various human situations among Palestinians, ranging from villages that have been divided by borders such as the Green Line to populations of Palestinian origin that have been cut off from their roots in Palestine and are now seeking to establish their lives elsewhere. The common theme is the role of borders and boundaries—those that people seek to cross and those that the wider political processes establish around existing populations. Cairo Papers Vol. 29, No. 1.
From the politics of food to images in the media, this double issue of Cairo Papers in Social Science focuses on a wide array of emerging cultural patterns in modern-day Egypt and their social, political, and economic ramifications. All the contributions are based on papers delivered at the Cairo Papers Thirteenth Annual Symposium in May 2004, and cover four broad areas: media and language, Islamic marketing, taste and public space, and food and markets. Contributors include Ray Bush (‘Staying Hungry: Food Politics in Egypt and the Near East’), Sami Zubaida (‘Food: Egypt and the Middle East’), Lilia Labidi (‘Truth Claims in the Cartoon World of Nagui Kamel’), Madiha Doss (‘Cultural Dynamics and Linguistic Practice in Contemporary Egypt’), Huda Lutfi (‘Mulid Culture in Cairo: The Case of al-Sayyida A’isha’), Maha Abdelrahman (‘Divine Consumption: Islamic Goods in Egypt’), Iman A. Hamdy (‘Watch for the Devil: Israel in Egyptian Movies and Soap Operas’), Malak S. Rouchdy (‘Food Recipes and the Kitchen Space: The Construction of Social Identities and New Frontiers’), and Reem Saad (‘Transforming the Meaning and Value of Traditional Crafts in Egypt’). Cairo Papers Vol. 27, nos. 1 & 2.
This pioneering, multidisciplinary volume, explores a rich constellation of ideas about the natural environment in the Middle East and their philosophical, political, historical, and gendered roots. It does this through close textual analyses of the Epic of Gilgamesh (Sharif Elmusa), Hayy Ibn Yazan and Robinson Crusoe (Robert Switzer), the Letter of the Animals (Elizabeth Sartain), and modern Egyptian fiction (Maysa Hayward). These are framed by an editor’s introduction and an article by John McNeill, winner of 2001 World History Association Book Award. Cairo Papers Vol. 26, no. 1.
There have been few attempts to understand contemporary Egyptian society, in particular growing internal pressures for change and their implications for the Middle East and the wider world. This book presents a series of analyses of politics, culture, and society, addressing the turmoil created by imposition of neo-liberal economic policies, the increasingly fragile nature of an authoritarian regime, the influence of movements for democratic opening and popular participation, and the impacts of Islamism. The authors argue that Egypt has entered a period of instability and assess the ability of the state to resist the new movements and the latters’ capacity to fulfill their aims. Contributors: Anne Alexander, Joel Beinin, Ray Bush, Aida Seif El-Dawla, Rabab El-Mahdi, Philip Marfleet, Ahmed El-Sayed El-Naggar, Sameh Naguib.
No chapter in Egypt’s contemporary history has been more turbulent and unpredictable than the past three years. In a very short period of time, the Arab world’s most populous country has seen a transition from rule by an iron-fisted dictatorship to a populist uprising to military omnipotence to Islamist electoral victory to constitutional turmoil to societal polarization. Egypt’s iconic revolution has been neither victorious nor defeated. Egypt in Flux is a collection of essays on the political, social, economic, and cultural dimensions of change in the country’s ongoing revolutionary current. While written over a span of several years, the essays are timeless in the historical context they provide and their ability to chart the country’s trajectory in the period ahead. From the conditions that precipitated the uprising and the eruption of national dissent to the derailing of the revolution, the author reflects on the pressing topics of the day while being mindful of the counterrevolutionary movements and the continuation of the unending uprising. From discussions about the illusion of fair and free elections, social inequities, and labor disparities to examinations of religion, sports, literature, and sexuality, the essays in this valuable and intellectually stimulating volume chart both the broad lines and the nuances of an unfinished revolution.
Galal Amin once again turns his attention to the shaping of Egyptian society and the Egyptian state in the half-century and more that has elapsed since the Nasserite revolution, this time focusing on the era of President Mubarak. He looks at corruption, poverty, the plight of the middle class, and of course, the economy, and directs his penetrating gaze toward the Mubarak regime’s uneasy relationship with the relatively free press it encouraged, the vexing issue of presidential succession, and Egypt’s relations with the Arab world and the United States. Addressing such themes from the perspective of an active participant in Egyptian intellectual life throughout the era, Galal Amin portrays the Mubarak regime’s stance in the domestic and international arenas as very much a product of history, which, while not exonerating the regime, certainly helps to explain it.
Egypt has placed its hopes on developing its vast and empty deserts as the ultimate solution to the country’s problems. New cities, new farms, new industrial zones, new tourism resorts, and new development corridors, all have been promoted for over half a century to create a modern Egypt and to pull tens of millions of people away from the increasingly crowded Nile Valley into the desert hinterland. The results, in spite of colossal expenditures and ever-grander government pronouncements, have been meager at best, and today Egypt’s desert is littered with stalled schemes, abandoned projects, and forlorn dreams. It also remains stubbornly uninhabited. Egypt’s Desert Dreams is the first attempt of its kind to look at Egypt’s desert development in its entirety. It recounts the failures of governmental schemes, analyzes why they have failed, and exposes the main winners of Egypt’s desert projects, as well as the underlying narratives and political necessities behind it, even in the post-revolutionary era. It also shows that all is not lost, and that there are alternative paths that Egypt could take.
Looking at encounters of European travelers with Egypt in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this collection of essays focuses on the experience of the less well known travelers and institutions. Contributors include: Lisa Bernasek, Briony Llewellyn, A.J. Mills, Charles Newton, John David Regan, John Rodenbeck, John Ruffle, Sarah Searight, Nicholas Warner. Vol. 23 No. 2
This ethnographic study of the Egyptian underground hip-hop scene examines the artists who collectively molded the scene and analyzes their practices and explores how these artists have interacted with and responded to political and social upheaval and change. It reveals how rappers approached and reformulated the genre in times of revolution and stasis to reveal how rap acts as a multi-layered form of expression. More specifically, it examines the location of the art form within the broader history of oppositional cultural expression in Egypt, outlining the artists’ oppositions to various hegemonic structures and critically deconstructing them to reveal that they often reflect dominant ideology.
In a collection of articles originally published between 1995 and 2011 in Cairo’s Al-Ahram Weekly and Ahram Online (as well as in The Guardian and on Salon.com), Egyptian journalist Hani Shukrallah examines his own culture and society during what he terms “a tempestuous period of history for the region and for its relations with the rest of the world.” He makes unflinching observations and asks difficult questions in his attempts to reveal underlying truths about democracy, human development, regional power relations, and the demonization of Arabs and Muslims in the west. While most of the articles in this collection were written in what Shukrallah describes as the Arabs’ “age of ugly choices,” it ends on a high note: the Egyptian Revolution and the promise of a long-awaited Arab spring. In a 7000-word introduction, Shukrallah reexamines the period in question from the perspective of the Revolution, which he admits took him completely by surprise. An epilog includes a collection of articles written on the very eve of the Egyptian Revolution and as it was taking place.
This groundbreaking work presents original research on cultural politics and battles in Egypt at the turn of the twenty-first century. It deconstructs the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘low’ culture, drawing on conceptual tools in cultural studies, translation studies, and gender studies to analyze debates in the fields of literature, cinema, mass media, and the plastic arts. Anchored in the Egyptian historical and social contexts and inspired by the influential work of Pierre Bourdieu, it rigorously places these debates and battles within the larger framework of a set of questions about the relationship between the cultural and political fields in Egypt.
Considering the paradoxical position of al-raqs al-baladi or “belly dance” in Egyptian social life, as both a vibrant and a contested cultural form, this issue of Cairo Papers in Social Science considers the impact of wider socio-cultural and political forces on the marginalization of professional performers, on the one hand, and in defining the parameters for non-professional performances on the other hand. Through interviews with professional and non-professional female dancers in Egypt, it explores the relationship between al-raqs al-baladi and the dynamic cultural repertoire that produces notions of femininity and normative personhood in Egypt. As a dance that Egyptians learn in childhood, it exposes the cardinal relationship between culture and body movement. The study received the Magda al-Nowaihi Award for best graduate work on gender studies in 2010. Cairo Papers in Social Science 32/3
For many Egyptians in the early twentieth century, the biggest national problem was not British domination or the Great Depression but a marriage crisis heralded in the press as a devastating rise in the number of middle-class men refraining from marriage. Voicing anxieties over a presumed increase in bachelorhood, Egyptians also used the failings of Egyptian marriage to criticize British rule, unemployment, the disintegration of female seclusion, the influx of women into schools, middle-class materialism, and Islamic laws they deemed incompatible with modernity. For Better, For Worse explores how marriage became the lens through which Egyptians critiqued larger socioeconomic and political concerns. Delving into the vastly different portrayals and practices of marriage in both the press and the Islamic court records, this innovative look at how Egyptians understood marital and civil rights and duties during the early twentieth century offers fresh insights into ongoing debates about nationalism, colonialism, gender, and the family.
The Horn of East Africa is one of the driest regions on the continent, where competition for water and land can be extremely violent. As a result, conflict and hunger have followed each other for centuries, leading to forced migrations and thousands of refugees from Ethiopia, Eritrea, and other countries in the region. As gateways to the west, Egypt and Sudan have absorbed thousands of refugees from these countries, in communities ranging from makeshift refugee camps to crowded urban neighborhoods. In this groundbreaking study, historian Fabienne Le Houérou examines the complex interactions between these refugees and their hosts, as well as the struggles that shape their daily lives. From Sudanese families in Cairo tenements to Ethiopian farmers fleeing war and famine, Le Houérou draws on years of field research to offer fresh insights into some of world’s most vulnerable populations.
In 1933 the German anthropologist Hans Alexander Winkler came across a ‘spirit medium’ named ‘Abd al-Radi in a village near Luxor in Upper Egypt. ‘Abd al-Radi was periodically possessed by the ghost of his uncle, and in that state passed messages to those who came to seek help. In an intense study, Winkler lays out the construction of the world shared by the rural people, with its saints and pilgrims, snake charmers and wandering holy men, all under the overarching power of God. Winkler’s book was ahead of its time in analyzing a single institution in its social context, and in showing the debates and disagreements about the meaning of such strange events. “This multilayered study from the 1930s was precocious in its method and conclusions, and thus it retains its relevance today not only for Egyptian folklore but also for the history of anthropology in Egypt.” —from the Introduction by Nicholas S. Hopkins
In Egypt’s modern history, reform of personal status laws has often formed an integral part of political, cultural, and religious contestations among different factions of society. From the beginning of the twenty-first century, two significant reforms were introduced in Egyptian personal status laws: women’s right to petition for no-fault judicial divorce law (khul‘) and the new mediation-based family courts. Gender Justice and Legal Reform examines the interplay between legal reform and gender norms and practices. It examines the processes of advocating for, and contesting the khul‘ and new family courts laws, shedding light on the agendas and strategies of the various actors involved. It also examines the ways in which women and men have made use of these legal reforms; how judges and other court personnel have interpreted and implemented them; and how the reforms may have impacted women and men’s understandings, expectations, and strategies when navigating marriage and spousal roles. Drawing on an extensive four-year field study, Al-Sharmani highlights the complexities and mixed impacts of legal reform, not only as a mechanism of claiming gender rights but also as a system of meanings that shape, destabilize, or transform gender norms and practices.
Gender-based violence (GBV) affects women throughout their lives and occurs in different forms including physical, psychological, sexual and economic abuse. GBV has a diverse impact on women and may result in homicides, suicides, and many adverse health problems. It occurs as a result of gender roles and cultural norms, which influence the expression of violence within intimate relationships. In Palestinian society such violence is about exertion of control and a sanctioned way of life, a way of life that is legitimized by religion and culture. The level of violence experienced is heightened by the on-going violent conflict in Palestine, which adds to the level of violence against women due to increased feelings of despair, loss of control and emasculation among Palestinian men. Regardless of their age, religion or social economic status, Palestinian women are rarely heard. They have loud voices and they are outspoken; yet the culture requires that they are not to be seen or heard outside the confines of the home. This book, a collection of voices of Palestinian women victimized both by the ongoing violent conflict and at the hands of their husbands, is intended to redress this balance.