A vivid ethnography of Egyptian migrants to the Arab Gulf states, Migrant Dreams is about the imagination which migration thrives on, and the hopes and ambitions generated by the repeated experience of leaving and returning home.
What kind of dreams for a good or better life drives labor migrants? What does being a migrant worker do to one’s hopes and ambitions? How does the experience of migration to the Gulf, with its attendant economic and legal precarities, shape migrants’ particular dreams of a better life? What do those dreams—be they realistic and productive, or fantastic and unlikely—do to the social worlds of the people who pursue them, and to their families and communities back home upon their return?
Based on ten years of ethnographic fieldwork and conversations with Egyptian men from mostly low-income rural backgrounds who migrated as workers to the Gulf, returned home, and migrated again over a period of about a decade, this fine-grained study explores and engages with these questions and more, as the men reflect on their strivings and the dreams they hope to fulfill. Throughout the book, Samuli Schielke highlights the story of one man, Tawfiq, who is particularly gifted at analyzing his own situation and struggles, resulting in a richly nuanced account that will appeal not only to Middle East scholars, but to anyone interested in the lived lives of labor migrants and what their experiences ultimately mean to them.
Creating Spaces of Hope explores some of the newest, most dynamic creativity emerging from young artists in Egypt and the way in which these artists engage, contest, and struggle with the social and political landscape of post-revolutionary Egypt.
How have different types of artists—studio artists, graffiti artists, musicians and writers—responded personally and artistically to the various stages of political transformation in Egypt since the January 25 revolution? What has the political or social role of art been in these periods of transition and uncertainty? What are the aesthetic shifts and stylistic transformations present in the contemporary Egyptian art world?
Based on personal interviews with artists over many years of research in Cairo, Caroline Seymour-Jorn moves beyond current understandings of creative work primarily as a form of resistance or political commentary, providing a more nuanced analysis of creative production in the Arab world. She argues that in more recent years these young artists have turned their creative focus increasingly inward, to examine issues having to do with personal relationships, belonging and inclusion, and maintaining hope in harsh social, political and economic circumstances. She shows how Egyptian artists are constructing “spaces of hope” that emerge as their art or writing becomes a conduit for broader discussion of social, political, personal, and existential ideas, thereby forging alternative perspectives on Egyptian society, its place in the region and in the larger global context.
Constructions of masculinity are constantly evolving and being resisted in the Middle East and North Africa. There is no “before” that was a stable gendered environment. This edited collection examines constructions of both hegemonic and marginalized masculinities in the MENA region, through literary criticism, film studies, discourse analysis, anthropological accounts, and studies of military culture. Bringing together contributors from the disciplines of linguistics, comparative literature, sociology, cultural studies, queer and gender studies, film studies, and history, Constructions of Masculinity in the Middle East and North Africa spans the colonial to the postcolonial eras with emphasis on the late twentieth century to the present day. This collective study is a diverse and exciting addition to the literature on gender and societal organization at a time when masculinities in the Middle East and North Africa are often essentialized and misunderstood.
Much scholarship has been devoted to debates around how global inequalities of knowledge production arise from asymmetric power relations and disparities in access to material resources, as well as values and practices that prioritize certain academic disciplines and research outputs over others. The central role played by universities in producing both knowledge and researchers is similarly acknowledged, with the doctorate increasingly recognized as a crucial phase in establishing both. Bounded Knowledge: Doctoral Studies in Egypt explores these debates from a uniquely Egyptian perspective. It provides a fresh, historical analysis of how doctoral studies evolved in Egypt and an ethnographic inquiry into the actual conditions of knowledge production in the country’s public universities, with focus on the humanities and social sciences. Although it is commonplace to speak of international collaborations in knowledge production, institutional settings and material conditions are so uneven as to make the fiction of equality impossible to sustain. The chapters in this book, by social scientists within and outside Egypt, look closely at how such academic hierarchies are reinforced in the context of the internationalization of research. They also look at the ways in which notions of socially responsible research, common the world over, are translated in the particularly Egyptian context: how research topics are discussed, how doctoral studies are organized, and ultimately, how society thinks about research.
What are the long-term structural features of the Egyptian economy? What are the factors that have facilitated or inhibited its performance? This crucial and timely work answers these questions and more by examining the most important economic decisions to have impacted the Egyptian economy since 1952 and the political factors behind them.
Drawing on Khalid Ikram’s extensive knowledge of economic policymaking at the highest levels, The Political Economy of Reforms in Egypt lays out the enduring features of the Egyptian economy and its performance since 1952 before presenting an account of policymaking, growth, and structural change under the country’s successive presidents to the present day. Topics covered include agrarian reforms; the Aswan High Dam; the move towards Arab socialism and a planned economy; the reversal of strategy and the infitah; fiscal, monetary, and exchange-rate policies; consumer subsidies; external debt crises; negotiations between Egypt and international donors and financial institutions; privatization; labor and employment; and poverty and income distribution. The analysis concludes with an examination of institutional reforms and development strategies to tackle the Egyptian economy’s structural problems and lay the foundation for sustained and rapid growth.
The enormous influence of the Egyptian film industry on popular culture and collective imagination across the Arab world is widely acknowledged, but little is known about its concrete workings behind the scenes. Making Film in Egypt provides a fascinating glimpse into the lived reality of commercial film production in today’s Cairo, with an emphasis on labor hierarchies, production practices, and the recent transition to digital technologies. Drawing on in-depth interviews and participant observation among production workers, on-set technicians, and artistic crew members, Chihab El Khachab sets out to answer a simple question: how do filmmakers deal with the unpredictable future of their films? The answer unfolds through a journey across the industry’s political economy, its labor processes, its technological infrastructure, its logistical and artistic work, and its imagined audiences. The result is a complex and nuanced portrait of the Arab world’s largest film industry, rich in ethnographic detail and theoretical innovations in media anthropology, media studies, and Middle East anthropology.
There is a great deal to be said about ideas and imaginations of the “future” when one does not have the luxury of maintaining a slot in the present. In the midst of acute conditions of precarity and structural violences and vulnerabilities of different forms (political, economic, social, infrastructural) and magnitudes, Egyptians find ways to adapt and adjust, even experiment, with different arrangements and forms of connectedness.
By following, tracing, and accompanying friends and networks of friendship in and across Egypt’s two biggest cities, Cairo and Alexandria, this ethnographic account aims to highlight some of the contemporary meanings, forms, and purposes of friendship among young Egyptians with the aim of renewing and reviving the question, “What can friendships do?”
Against a backdrop of conditions of precarity and the ruins of finance capitalism, this study examines the manifestations of how the relationship of friendship manages to re-invent and re-define itself. Moreover, it asks whether new modes of relationality, companionship, and intimacy can be cultivated and practiced given the current neoliberal conditions of living. The questions that this study attempts to open up are focused on the re-workings, reconfigurations, and re-makings of practices of sociality and intimacy between friends.
This compelling volume examines important and cross-cutting themes in the study of contemporary Middle East and North African politics and international relations in the current climate. Drawing together contributions from scholars based within the region and beyond, it weaves together essential interdisciplinary, conceptually rich, and forward-looking content. Chapters cover population and youth, civil–military relations, soft power and geopolitical competition, regionalization and internationalization of conflict, the role of oil in reconstruction efforts, extra-regional actors, environmental politics, and specifically, the Israel–Palestine conflict. Students are supported with an extended and innovative glossary, including key concepts, actors and abbreviations. New Perspectives on Middle East Politics serves as an ideal primer and companion volume for scholars of contemporary Middle East Studies, as well as for policy professionals, journalists and the general reader engaging and re-engaging with the region.
Mohamed Abdelraouf, Gulf Research Centre, Jeddah, United Arab Emirates
Dina Arakji, Carnegie Middle East Center, Beirut, Lebanon
Eyad AlRefai, Lancaster University, Lancashire, England and King Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia
Philipp Casula, University of Basel, Switzerland
Ishac Diwan, Paris Sciences et Lettres and Ecole Normale Superieure, Paris, France
Seif Hendy, American University in Cairo, Egypt
Simon Mabon, Lancaster University, Lancashire, England
Robert Mason, Lancaster University, Lancashire, England
Where do people meet, form relations of trust, and begin debating social and political issues? Where do social movements start? In this fascinating collection, scholars and activists from a wealth of disciplinary backgrounds, including sociology, anthropology, history, and political science, take a fresh look at these questions and the factors leading to political and social change in the Arab world from a spatial perspective. Based on original field work in Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, and Palestine, Spaces of Participation connects and reconnects social, cultural, and political participation with urban space. It explores timely themes such as formal and informal spaces of participation, alternative spaces of cultural production, space reclamation, and cultural activism, and the reconfiguring of space through different types of contestation. It also covers a range of spaces that include sports clubs, arts centers, and sites of protest and resistance, as well as virtual spaces such as social media platforms, in the process of examining the relationships and tensions between physical and virtual space. Spaces of Participation underlines the temporal and transformative quality of participatory spaces and how they are shaped by their respective political contexts, highlighting different forms of access, control, and contestation.
A bold firsthand account of one of the persistent Arab uprisings, in Yemen
At its beginning in 2007, the Southern Movement in South Yemen was a loose merger of different people, most of them former army personnel and state employees of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen (PDRY) who were forced from their jobs after the war in 1994, only four years after the unification between the PDRY and the Yemen Arab Republic.
This bold ethnographic account of a persistent Arab uprising, in a rarely studied corner of the Middle East, explores why the Southern Movement has grown so tremendously during the last decade, and how it developed from a primarily social movement demanding social rights into a mass protest movement claiming independence for a state that had long vanished from the world map. Anne-Linda Amira Augustin asks why so many young people born after 1990 joined the movement and demanded the re-establishment of a state that they had never themselves experienced.
At the core of South Yemeni resistance lies the transmission from generation to generation of a dominant counternarrative, which may be seen as the continuation and rehabilitation of the PDRY’s national narrative. This narrative, amplified through everyday communication in families and neighborhoods, but also by media-makers, journalists, school and university teachers, civil society actors, and by the movement’s activists, opposes the national-unity narrative of the Republic of Yemen and intensifies the demands for an independent state.
The everyday practices, policy ideas, and ideological and political battles that have shaped Egyptian education, from the era of nation-building in the twentieth century to the age of digital disruption in the twenty-first
From the 1952 revolution onward, a main purpose of formal education in Egypt was to socialize children and youth into adopting certain attitudes and behaviors conducive to the regimes in power. Control by the state over education was never entirely hegemonic. Egyptian education came increasingly under pressure due to a combination of the growing privatization of the education sector, the growth of political Islam, and rapidly changing digital technologies.
Educating Egypt traces the everyday practices, policy ideas, and ideological and political and economic contests over education from the era of nation-building in the twentieth century to the age of global change and digital disruption in the twenty-first. Its overarching theme is that schooling and education, broadly defined, have consistently mirrored larger debates about what constitutes the model citizen and the educated person. Drawing on three decades of ethnographic research inside Egyptian schools and among Egyptian youth, Linda Herrera asks what happens when education actors harbor fundamentally different ideas about the purpose, provision, and meaning of education. Her research shows that, far from serving as a unifying social force, education is in reality an ongoing battleground of interests, ideas, and visions of the good society.
An essential study of parliamentary politics in postwar Iraq and Syria, before the consolidation of authoritarian rule under the Ba’th Party
When Parliaments Ruled the Middle East explores three main interrelated issues to clarify what happened between 1946 and 1963 in Iraq and Syria: how and why a parliamentary system prevailed in both countries in the aftermath of the Second World War; what social effects this system triggered, and, in turn, how these changes affected the system; and finally, why the elites in both countries were unable to overcome the unrest that brought an end to both a liberal era and to a certain kind of political game.
Drawing on a vast array of sources and rich archival research in French, English, and Arabic, Matthieu Rey highlights the processes of the parliamentary system in the modern era, which are very common to post-independence countries and to any representative regime. He tackles the intersection of multifaceted political phenomena that were present in that moment in Iraq and Syria, including regular elections, the implementation of emergency law, the freedom of the press, the open expression of opinions, the formation of new political parties, frequent military coups, and the joint exercise of power by members of the old classes and reformist newcomers.
Treating this period as neither an epilogue of the liberal order nor a prelude to authoritarianism, and stressing the contingent, improvisatory aspects of political history, Rey fundamentally questions the transitional nature of the period and in doing so proposes new ways and tools of examining it.
A study of how the city of Port Said was created, and its spaces mutually produced and transformed through the practices of both dwellers and the state
Founded in 1859, as part of the Suez Canal project and named after Khedive Said, the city of Port Said has always stood at the juncture of global, national, and local networks of forces, the city itself a reflection of many layers of Egypt’s modern history, from its colonial past through to the eras of national liberation and neoliberalism.
Drawing on Bruno Latour’s and Henri Lefebvre’s conceptual works, this study examines how the ‘social’ (encompassing all aspects of human life—the political, the economic, and the social) of the city of Port Said was created, and how its spaces were mutually produced and transformed through the practices of both dwellers and the state. Looking also at the temporality of these processes, Mostafa Mohie examines three key moments: al-tahgir (the forced migration that followed the outbreak of the 1967 war and remained until 1974, when Port Saidians were permitted to return to their homes following the 1973 October War); the declaration of the free trade zone in the mid-1970s; and the Port Said Stadium massacre in 2012.