Cinematic Cairo

Egyptian Urban Modernity from Reel to Real

Edited by Nezar AlSayyad
Heba Safey Eldeen

A history of urban modernity in Cairo through cinema The relationship between the city and cinema is formidable. The images and sounds of the city

English edition
7 October 2022
432 pp.
74 b&w illus.
ISBN 9781649031334
For sale worldwide


A history of urban modernity in Cairo through cinema

The relationship between the city and cinema is formidable. The images and sounds of the city found in movies are perhaps the only experience that many people will have of cities they may never visit. Films influence the way we construct images of the world, and accordingly, in many instances, how we operate within it. Cinematic Cairo: Egyptian Urban Modernity from Reel to Real offers a history of Cairo’s urban modernity using film as the primary source of exploration, and cinematic space as both an analytical tool and a medium of critique. Cairo has provided rich subject material for Egypt’s film industry since the inception of the art form at the end of the nineteenth century. The “reel” city—imagined, perceived, and experienced—provides the spatial domain that mirrors change and allows for an interrogation of the “real” city as it encountered modernity over the course of a century.

Bringing together chapters by architects and art and literary historians, this volume explores this parallel and convergent relationship through two sections. The first uses films from the 1930s to the end of the twentieth century to illustrate the development of a modern Cairo and its modern subjects. The second section is focused on tracing the transformation of the cinematic city under conditions of neoliberalism, religious fundamentalism, and gender tensions. The result is a comprehensive narrative of the urban modernity of one of the most important cities in the Arab world and Global South.

Ahmed H. AbdelAzim, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA
Khaled Adham, Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin, Germany
Kinda AlSamara, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
Nezar AlSayyad, University of California, Berkeley, USA
Doaa Al Amir, October 6th University, Cairo, Egypt
Farah Gendy, Raef Fahmi Architects, Cairo, Egypt
Hala A. Hassanien, Architect, Wasl, Cairo, Egypt
Tayseer Khairy, Arab Academy for Science Technology & Maritime Transport, Cairo, Egypt
Mariam Marei, The American University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt
Ameer Saad, Architect, Dar Al-Handasa, Cairo, Egypt
Heba Safey Eldeen, Misr International University, Cairo, Egypt
Mohammad Salama, San Francisco State University, San Francisco, USA
Nour Sobhi, Misr International University, Cairo, Egypt
Sherin Soliman, Misr International University, Cairo, Egypt
Mirette Aziz, Misr International University, Egypt

To read an excerpt, click here.

For the Table of Contents, click here.

Nezar AlSayyad

Nezar  AlSayyad is emeritus professor of architecture, planning, urban design, and urban history at the University of California, Berkeley, where he also served as chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies. He was founder and past president of the International Association for the Study of Traditional Environments. Among his numerous books are: Nile: Urban Histories on the Banks of a River (2020), Cairo: Histories of a City (2011), Cinematic Urbanism (2006), Making Cairo Medieval (2005), and The End of Tradition (2004).

Heba Safey Eldeen

Heba  Safey Eldeen is professor of architecture and urban design at Misr International University, Cairo, and an adjunct professor at the American University in Cairo. She currently serves as director of the House of Egyptian Architecture, under the Cultural Development Fund of the Egyptian Ministry of Culture. She is also director of the Architecture and Children Work Program of the International Union of Architects, and a member of the Architecture Committee of the Supreme Council for Culture of Egypt.