Category Archives: Participants Projects and Biographies

Omar Al-Ghazzi

Omar Al-Ghazzi is a doctoral candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication. His research interests include global communication, Arab journalism, and the intersection of politics and popular culture. His dissertation examines Arab discourses on memory and history and their relation to collective action and political identity formations. His work has appeared in Popular Communication, International Journal of Communication, and Media, Culture and Society. A former Fulbright fellow, Omar holds a Master’s degree in International Communication from the American University in Washington DC and a BA in Communication Arts from the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon. Omar comes from a journalism and media analysis professional background and has previously worked for the BBC and Al-Hayat Arabic daily.

Omar Al Gahazzi’s project:

The Mnemonic Battles of the Arab Uprisings: The Case of the War over Flags in Syria

My project explores the communicative practices and tactics in Arab discourses during the uprisings which use the trope of ‘the historic’ for political positioning and mobilization. Through the methods of discourse analysis of Arab media and textual analysis of literature on collective memory, modernity, postcolonialism, and contentious politics, my dissertation explores the political significance of conceiving and contesting different meanings of history in Arab discourses. Against the backdrop of the uprisings, I interrogate episodes of contention about history among individual and collective political actors. I examine struggles over the meanings projected on symbols of past events, which are construed as originary moments for the temporal progression of imagined collectivities, and used discursively to influence political events, mobilize collective action, and express new collective identity projects. For the Summer Academy, I would like to focus on the case-study of Syria, particularly the use of flags, as temporal and spatial markers, in the Syrian uprising and the ongoing civil war in the country.



Michael Allan

is an Assistant Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon. His research focuses on colonialism, secularization and the formation of modern reading practices in Africa and the Middle East, primarily in French, Arabic, and English. In both his research and teaching, he bridges textual analysis with social theory and draws from methods in anthropology, film and visual culture, religion, and postcolonial studies. He holds his Ph.D. from the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, where he worked under the direction of Judith Butler and Karl Britto.

During the 2011-2012 academic year, he was a EUME-Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. He has also been a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University (2008-9) and a Townsend Fellow at Humanities Center at the University of California, Berkeley (2006-7). For two summers he worked as the site director for an intensive Arabic program in Tangier, Morocco (2011-2012), and prior to pursuing his doctorate, he served as a Presidential Intern at the American University in Cairo, where he was affiliated with the Institute for Gender and Women’s Studies (2000-1).

His current book project, Site Reading: Colonial Egypt and the Making of a Literary World, offers a colonial history of literature at the intersection of the French, British and Ottoman empires, nineteenth-century moral education, and reforms in Qur’anic instruction. The book examines how modern literary disciplines reshape textual practices, transform connotations of adab, and delineate the literate from the illiterate. His second book explores the travels of camera operators for the Lumière Brothers film company across Africa and the Middle East at the end of the nineteenth century. The various chapters connect innovations in film form with the sites at which these films were shot: the pyramids in Egypt, the Jaffa Gate in Palestine, and colonial Algiers.


He recently served as the guest editor of a special issue of Comparative Literature, “Reading Secularism: Aesthetics, Literature, Religion,” and has published articles on a range of topics: religion and sexuality in The Yacoubian Building, the problem of address in world literature (awarded the A. Owen Aldridge Prize by the American Comparative Literature Association), language in the writings of Frantz Fanon, and contemporary Lebanese video art.

Anne-Linda Amira Augustin

Anne-Linda Amira Augustin is a research associate and PhD candidate in the research network “ReConfigurations. History, Remembrance and Transformation Processes in the Middle East and North Africa” at the Center for Near and Middle East Studies (Philipps-University Marburg / Germany). She works on various topics related to Southern Yemen such amongst others youth issues and the Southern Movement.

Anne-Linda Amira Augustin’s project:

Family Memories and Urban Areas as Contested Spaces – Being Young and South Arabian in Aden (South Yemen)

The so-called “Arab Spring” and the following transition process in Yemen with its entire political, economic, as well as security crisis andconflicts brought a new momentum for Southern Yemeni society. This is apparent in conflicts between the independence movement al-Hirak al-Janubi (Southern Movement) and the regime of Sanaa. The “hidden transcript”, which emerged after the Civil War in 1994, is no longer hidden, but visible in public spheres as a discourse that shows mechanisms of social transformations. In this context, family memories serve as source of knowledge for young people on the one hand and as a contested space, in which politics between the north and the south of the country, as well as innersouthern Yemeni discourses between generations are actively shaped and new interpreted. The project aims at demonstrating how youth mobilization in Southern Yemen is mainly connected to cultural and social transmissions in families. In drawing on space theories and in using research techniques of oral history this paper takes an historical perspective on Aden as a contested urban spaceand a social sciences perspective on family memories as contested social space.


Jamal Bahmad

Jamal Bahmad is a postdoctoral research associate at the Center for Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Philipps-Universität Marburg (Germany). Completed at the University of Stirling, his doctoral dissertation examined the politics of neoliberalism, everyday life and postcolonial subjectivity in Moroccan urban cinema since the 1990s. Bahmad specialises in North African cultural studies with a current focus on cinema, historical memory and youth subcultures. Among his recent publications are: “Casablanca Unbound: The New Urban Cinema in Morocco,” Francosphères 2.1 (2013): 73-85; “Revolution in Maghrebi Cinema,” Critical Muslim 9 (2014): 109-18; “Rebels with a Cause: Youth, Globalisation and Postcolonial Agency in Moroccan Cinema.” The Journal of North African Studies 19.3 (2014): 376–389.

Jamal Bahmad’s project:

Screens of Reconfiguration: Political Violence and Collective Memory in Contemporary Maghrebi Cinema

This postdoctoral research project aims to provide an interdisciplinary and comparative study of the representation of political violence and its reconfigurations of collective memory and postcolonial identity in contemporary Maghrebi cinema. The three North African countries witnessed dramatic periods of colonial and post-colonial violence. The war of independence (1954-1962) and the civil strife of the 1990s in Algeria, on the one hand, and Sanawat Rassas (the Years of Lead) in Morocco and Tunisia between 1956 and the 1990s, on the other, have inspired dozens of films in these countries and further afield. From Gillo Pontecorvo’s widely known classic The Battle of Algiers (Italy-Algeria, 1966) and Yamina Bachir-Chouikh’s Rachida (Algeria, 2002) through Nouri Bouzid’s Golden Horseshoes (Tunisia, 1989) and Nadia EL Fani’s Lenin’s Children (Tunisia-France, 2007) to Faouzi Bensaïdi’s Alf shahr (A Thousand Months, Morocco, 2003) and Jilali Ferhati’s Dakira muâtaqala (Memory in Detention, Morocco, 2004), Maghrebi filmmakers have engaged the complex history of their nations through aesthetic reconfigurations of political violence, trauma and collective memory. This postdoctoral project will situate this cinematic reconfiguration of violence and its cultural memories within the historical and social transformations of the Maghreb countries over the last five decades, which roughly spans the history of postcolonial filmmaking in the region.

By focusing on how violence on the screen complicates simplistic understandings of history, trauma and human subjectivity, this postdoctoral research project will engage with how Maghrebi films have re-configured questions of national identity and human rights through the complex lenses of trauma and memory. The project will also examine how instead of portraying passive victims of violence from above, the films reconfigure violence as a process of remembrance and resistance by ordinary individuals and subaltern communities. The filmmakers, as we will see, have shied away from spectacularising violence by engaging its complex origins and everyday reconfigurations by postcolonial subjects. Violence in this burgeoning strand of Maghrebi cinema is not a straightforward force visited on innocent, passive individuals. It is rather a complex field of conflictual memories of trauma, opposing interpretations of history and a forcefield of alternative maps of the coming postcolonial nation. The film medium is an apposite site for a critical account of the place of violence and its mnemonic visual cultures in the contemporary history of the Maghreb countries. It is my hope through this project to unearth the complex relationships between Maghrebi people and political violence in their memories of the past and current engagement with a rapidly changing world around them.


Martin Baumeister

holds the post of Director of the German Historical Institute in Rome since 2012. He is Chair of contemporary European history at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität of Munich. After his PhD about social protest in a Spanish latifundia region before the Civil War, he worked as wissenschaftlicher Assistent at Humboldt University of Berlin where he completed his Habilitation about popular culture in World War I. His main research interests include the history of fascism and the era of the two world wars, urban history, and the Mediterranean and Southern Europe as imagined spaces and historical regions. His books include Kriegstheater. Großstadt, Front und Massenkultur 1914 bis 1918 [Theatre of war. Metropolis, front, and mass culture, 1914-1918] (2005); “If you tolerate this…” The Spanish Civil War in the age of total war (2008) (co-ed. with Stefanie Schüler-Springorum) and Die Kunst der Geschichte. Historiographie, Ästhetik, Erzählung [The art of history. Historiography, aesthetics, narrative] (2009) (co-ed. with Moritz Föllmer, Philipp Müller). Currently, he is doing research about the history of Rome after 1945 and writing a history of Italian fascism

Koenraad Boegart

Koenraad Boegart is a post-doctoral researcher at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group (MENARG) under the direction of Professor Sami Zemni at Ghent University (Belgium). He is currently doing research on urban neoliberalism in Morocco and tries to link the political and economic changes of the last thirty years in a country such as Morocco with social protest. Some of his publications are “New State Space Formation in Morocco: The Example of the Bouregreg Valley” (Urban Studies 49(2): 254-269 [2012]); “The Problems of Slums: Shifting Methods of Neoliberal Urban Government in Morocco” (Development and Change 42(3): 709-731 [2011]); “Imagining the State Through Social Protest: State Reformation and the Mobilizations of Unemployed Graduates in Morocco” (co-authored with Montserrat Emperador, Mediterranean Politics, 16(2): 241-259 [2011]); “Luxemburg on Tahrir Square: Reading the Arab revolutions with Rosa Luxemburg’s The Mass Strike”, (co-authored with Sami Zemni and Brecht De Smet, Antipode, 45(4): 888-907 [2013]; and “Contextualizing the Arab Revolts: The Politics behind Three Decades of Neoliberalism in the Arab World” (Middle East Critique, 22(3): 213-234 [2013]).

Koenraad Boegart’s project:

Urban Politics in Morocco: A Political Economy of Uneven Development

Attempts to understand the significance and implication of the Arab uprisings must not lose sight of the fact that the current pressures for change are rooted in the fundamental political transformations  that  took  place during the  previous three  decades.  These  transformations were intimately related to the city and its neoliberal reforms. This project outlines how we can  situate  our  analyses  of  the  events  of  the  last  three  years  within  a  broader  political economic perspective. To do so concretely, it takesMorocco’s cities, and more specifically Rabat and Casablanca, as case studies to reflect upon those broader perspectives. By looking at both the politics of megaprojects and slum upgrading initiatives I attempt to understand fundamental  political  transformations  in  Morocco,  and  the  wider  region,  since  the  1980s. Urban development, simultaneously encompassing luxurious and high-end urban renovation projects  as  well  as  slum-eradication  and/or  upgrading  schemes,  has  become  an  important terrain upon which state-society-market relations are being redrawn.


Ines Braune

Ines Braune (Philipps Universität Marburg) has a background in Middle Eastern and Media studies and has been researching for some time the culture and media changes with a cultural studies perspective. Having focused on everyday Internet practices of young Moroccans her PhD dissertation dealt with local appropriations of globally available resources. 

Her current research is “Parkour as contentious cultural practice in the Arab World”. Her latest article “Our friend, the internet: Postcolonial mediatization in Morocco”, appeared in Communications: The European Journal of Communication Research, 2013 Issue 3.

Ines Braune’s project:

Parkour: Claiming Public Space in Morocco

This research project discusses how Parkour, a global mediatizised youth culture is produced, distributed and appropriated in a Middle Eastern context (Morocco) and it focuses here on the role of public space for the cultural practices of Parkour and vice versa the role of Parkour for the public space in different local Moroccan settings. The topic is approached from a cultural studies perspective and is based on ethnographic field research as well as qualitative interviews which are conducted online and in Morocco.


Nancy Demerdash

Nancy Demerdash is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University. She is writing her dissertation on modern architecture, decolonization and nation-building in twentieth-century Tunisia. She holds a Master of Science in Architecture Studies (S.M.Arch.S.) degree from the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (M.I.T.), and an Honors Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in Art History and Religious Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Recently, she taught a course on globalization, urbanism, and social justice at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (S.A.I.C.). She has also published in the peer-reviewed journals New Middle Eastern Studies and the International Journal of Islamic Architecture.

Nancy Demerdash’s project:

Razing Gourbivilles and Decolonizing Space: Bourguibist Spatial Politics in Post-Independent Tunisia

My project investigates the dialectical discourses of modernism and vernacularism in Tunisian architectural and urban projects of the late French protectorate into the postcolonial period, 1920-1980. With a particular focus on issues of habitation—the perennially dubbed ‘crise de logement’—it tracks the reorganization of social space in Tunisian Sahelian cities and formal negotiations of architectural style and plan in designing Tunisian settlements. Reckonings with vernacular architecture paradoxically forwarded modernist building agendas.

In an era that witnessed mass-scale land expropriations, rural-urban migrations, and popular anti-colonial sentiment, this project traces the material effects of Tunisians’ displacements and urban adaptations to their rapidly changing socio-political condition. Underscoring the tensions between formal and informal settlements in modern Tunisia, it explores social housing projects that developed parallel to the spread of indigenous gourbivilles (earthen dwellings) and bidonvilles (‘tin can’ towns) on the outskirts of these urban nodes. Challenging the predominant historiographical narrative that presents independence of 1956 as a stark political rupture, this dissertation instead demonstrates that the vestiges of urban and preservationist policy schemes remained ingrained, on an institutional level, from protectorate rule. How the political processes of decolonization and nation-building intersect with the ethics of dignified dwelling undergirds this project.



Emily Drumsta

Emily Drumsta is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley. Her research and teaching interests include Modern Arabic Literature and Culture, Pre-modern Arabic Literature, Maghrebi Literature and Culture, Literary Translation, and Critical Theory. Her dissertation, “The Poetics of Investigation: Mystery and Metafiction in Late Twentieth Century Fiction from Morocco to Iraq,” examines the use of the mystery investigation as an allegory of reading and mode of political critique in several Arabic and Francophone novels since the nineteen-seventies. Emily is the recipient of a Jacob K. Javits Fellowship for Graduate Study (2009-2014), a fellowship from the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) at the American University in Cairo (2010-2011), and Sultan Fellowship for Arab Studies (2014). She is co-founder and co-managing editor of Tahrir Documents, an online archive of pamphlets, broadsides, and newspapers collected in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and published alongside English translations.  Her translations have previously been published in the Trinity Journal of Literary Translation, McSweeney’s, Jadaliyya, and Circumference. She holds a B.A. in Comparative Literature from Brown University (2006).

Emily Drumsta’s project:

Inconstant Constantine: Physical Landscapes and Literary Paradigms in Algerian Fiction from the 1990s

In this project, which will constitute a chapter of my doctoral dissertation, I examine how two works of Algerian literature from the nineteen-nineties use narrative self-reflection and metafiction to offer new paradigms for thinking memory, historiography, and identity in the Maghreb. The works in question are Assia Djebar’s Le blanc de l’Algérie (1995) and Aḥlām Mustaghānimī’s Dhākirat al-jasad (1993). Though written in different languages and addressing quite different audiences, both Le blanc de l’Algérie and Dhākirat al-jasad deal with the interrelated problems of collective memory, historiography, and language at a time in Algerian history when these issues were hotly contested. In Le blanc de l’Algérie, Djebar inflects history with autobiography and mixes mourning with melancholia to offer a new and perhaps only preliminary, personal, or partial literary history of Algeria. Her confessional, impressionistic, and fragmentary style aims not to correct, but rather to disrupt and displace the notion of authoritative history. In Dhākirat al-jasad, meanwhile—a novel narrated from the point of view of a writer who is himself struggling to write a novel—Mustaghānimī dramatizes the problems of narrative representation itself, which can serve either as a crucial, life-sustaining mode of self-assertion and transmission (for history’s victims), or as a tool for consolidating and exercising power (for history’s victors). In both works, a present moment fraught with political tension serves as the occasion for a meditation on the past, which occurs not through unified historical reflection, but through the fragmentary processes of memory and auto-narration. Part of a larger dissertation project on the political role of self-reflexive fiction in French- and Arabic-language novels from Morocco to Iraq, “Inconstant Constantine” examines the specific literary forms and paradigms through which women writers question the premises of history, narrativization, and their role in the consolidation of power, whether colonial or post-colonial.



Badouin Dupret

is educated in Law, Islamic Sciences and Political Sciences. He is Directeur de Recherche at the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). He was appointed in 2010 Director of the Centre Jacques-Berque in Rabat, Morocco. He is also guest lecturer in Islamic law and socio-legal sciences at the University of Louvain and at the Institute for advanced studies in the social sciences (EHESS), Paris. He has published extensively in the field of the sociology and anthropology of law, legislation and media, especially in the Middle East. His current work involves a praxiological approach to the production of truth in Arab contexts, including courts and parliaments, scientific expertise, the media, and religious education. He also(co-)edited numerous volumes, the last one being Popular Housing and Urban Land Tenure in the Middle East (with M. Ababsa and E. Denis, American University in Cairo Press, 2012), and single-authored several books, e.g. Practices of Truth (Benjamins, 2011), Adjudication in Action: An Ethnomethodology of Law, Moral and Justice (Ashgate, 2011), and La Charia. Des sources à la pratique, un concept pluriel (La Découverte, 2014).

Meriem El Haitami

Meriem El Haitami is a doctoral student at the University of Sidi Mohammed Ben Abdellah in Fez, Morocco. She has been a Fulbright Scholar for the year 2012-2013 at SUNY Binghamton. Her PhD research addresses the dynamics of female religious authority and activism in contemporary Morocco. She explores how, in present day Morocco, women are establishing themselves in a variety of religious leadership roles ranging from official female preachers (murshidat) and religious scholars (‘alimat), to Sufi affiliates and political leaders. Her research in the United States included the study of female religiosities within transnational Moroccan Sufi orders. Her research interests also include the interrelations between faith-based activism and public diplomacy as well as the role of religious leaders in peacebuilding and conflict transformation. She has published articles on the role of the state-sponsored women religious guides (murshidat) and scholars (‘alimat) in shaping new forms of religious leadership and activism.

Meriem El Haitami’s project:

Islamist Feminism in Morocco: (Re)defining the Political Public Space

The gradual but marked Islamization of the public sphere in Morocco since the 1980s has redefined the spatial dynamics of public activism. Women have played an important role in this process ; their activism was conducted in ways that are spatially private but significantly public in effect. Their success in shaping a public discourse on women’s political participation has expanded the range of opportunities for women’s activism.

In 2011, female Islamist activists have particularly gained legitimacy in the context of the Arab spring which has brought the conservative Justice and Development party into power. This has contributed to a shift from liberal elite state feminism to a more legitimate religious activism and has introduced new spaces for contention, such as the emerging nuanced female political and civic expression(s), as well as the prospects for Islamist and secular women’s movements to co-operate, negotiate and strategize, in order to ensure a democratic approach to gender issues. Therefore, this project explores how female Islamist activists are positioning themselves vis-à-vis discourses of liberal democracy and universal debates of gender justice. This project positions itself in relation for recent scholarship that suggests, that Islamist or more accurately ‘post-Islamist’ movements (Asef Bayat, 2013) are not necessarily anti-democratic. Rather, such movements may figure as important forces toward a more democratic transition. This paper also addresses the redefinition of liberal feminism and Islamist feminism in the light of the transformations that political Islam is undergoing in Morocco and how this figures as an essential part of the contentious relationship between religion and the state and the regulation of the religious public space.

Hatim El-Hibri

Hatim El-Hibri is Assistant Professor of Media Studies in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies. He earned his masters and doctorate from New York University’s Department of Media, Culture, and Communication. His current research is in the history of media technologies and urban space in the Middle East, and examines the cultural politics of Arab satellite broadcasting in light of the history of the visualization of Beirut. His work has appeared in the Arab World Geographer and the International Journal of Communication. His general research and teaching interests synthesize global media studies, visual culture studies, urban studies of the Middle East, and the history of technology.

Hatim El-Hibri’s project: 

The Before / After Shot: Solidere’s Corporate Films, and the Work of Images in Postwar Beirut

On the surface of things, Beirut’s city center seems, in the first half of the 2010s, to be an impeccably polished place with a bright future. From the opening of boutique outdoor shopping malls, to a new waterfront, to an ongoing weekly organic farmer’s market, few places in Lebanon boast of such dramatic post-civil war transformation. Even fewer have been the site of comparably intense public controversy and financial speculation. Just two decades ago, so-called ‘Downtown Beirut’ was defined by its abandonment and ruins than outdoor cafés and designer stores. This contrast—between visions of recovery made real and the ruins of conflicts past—is the subject of A Project as Grand as Hope, a film produced in 1992 by Solidére, the private real estate firm that was given control of a significant part of Beirut’s central district after the formal end of the civil war (1975-1990). One of the key aesthetic conventions in A Project as Grand as Hope is the juxtaposition of images of damaged buildings with images of well-manicured urban spaces-to-be. While this kind of Before/After shot became ubiquitous in the visual culture of postwar Lebanon, the early corporate films of Solidére in particular encapsulate the centrality of the work of images in the cultural economy of postwar urban transformation. The changes at the surface depicted in Solidere’s corporate films are indicative of the suturing of the project of recovery to new financial circuitries, in which the Before/After shot played a key role.

Based on extensive fieldwork and archival research in Beirut, this essay examines Solidére’s deployment of the Before/After shot in three corporate films. I first examine the context that the company emerged from and has created. I then analyze the variations of the Before/After shot embodied in these films, interrogating the contrast they create, and the subject position of an idealized Citizen-Investor that they naturalize. I also examine the Before/After shot as a cinematic embodiment of the forms of spatial visualization more commonly found in GIS (geographic information systems) software introduced to Lebanon in this period, in which space and the meaning of rubble are translated into a set of data points in selectable informatic layers. This image is key to understanding both the transformation of urban space in this war-torn context, and the social, affective and political transformations that it has entailed—a representational burden often placed on symbols of youth.



Mohamed Elshahed

Mohamed Elshahed is an architect and researcher focused on the modern architectural and urban history of the Middle East, particularly Egypt. He is also an observer of contemporary urban and architectural transformations of the region’s cities particularly Cairo. His New York University doctoral dissertation Revolutionary, Modernism? Architecture and the Politics of Transition in Egypt, 1936-1967, argues that 1950s urban and architectural development associated with Nasserism refashioned preexisting architectural production in the service of Egypt’s “necessary transitional authoritarianism.” The state’s developmental programs led by Egypt’s society of engineers focused on spaces of everyday life such as middle class housing, public schools and recreational spaces. Through an examination of press debates, periodicals, in addition to newly discovered archival material, his research investigates the role of the built environment in the formation of national identity and its place in Egyptian politics vis-à-vis local, regional and global contexts.

Mohamed has a Bachelor of Architecture from the New Jersey Institute of Technology and a Master in Architecture Studies from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). Mohamed blogs about Cairo’s architecture, urbanism, culture and heritage at He is currently a EUME fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin.

Mohamed Elshahed’s project:

Producing Publics in the Suez Zone: City, Agency and Spaces of Struggle

How has the presence of one of the world’s most contested and vital waterways in the backyard of three of Egypt’s cities influenced the productions of those cities’ publics and spaces? The three Suez Zone cities offer unique and extreme examples of spaces of struggle to investigate how urban publics resist urban futures determined by militarized states and global/Gulf capital. The Suez Canal is a vital strategic asset to Egypt and the country’s main source for constant flow of hard currency. The canal’s significance to global trade and economy has made it a particularly thorny asset to Egypt as it was of interest to global powers in the nineteenth century and a fundamental cornerstone in Britain’s colonization of Egypt. It was also at the center of a series of military battles between Egyptian, French, British and Israeli forces in the middle decades of the twentieth century. Today, the canal is a highly militarized waterway managed by the opaque Suez Canal Authority supervised by the military. The history of the canal and its relation to global economy directly impacts three cities, two of which were founded with the building of the Canal in the 1850s. Port Said in the north, Ismailia in the middle and Suez in the southern end of the canal are vital strategic points where the Suez Canal Authority maintains its offices and facilities. The history and the shape of those cities, particularly Port Said and Ismailia, have been directly linked to the colonial struggle to control the canal, the subsequent nationalization of the facility and the wars that followed as well as the political and economic policies of post-Camp David Egypt and subsequent neoliberal global economy. This project focuses on Suez Canal cities and the social movements within them to trace spatial practices, visual culture and public embodiments as ways to counter globalization, violence and political marginalization.

For the past decade there have been visions drawn up to maximize the canal’s functionality and the income it could generate for the Egyptian state. Such visions were to be financed with Gulf, specifically Saudi and Emirati investment with Dubai Ports World taking the leading role as the company to build and manage key facilities around the canal. After the Egyptian revolt commenced in 2011 Qatar pushed its way into the potentially lucrative Suez Canal strategic plan. Then again with the fall of the Muslim Brotherhood Saudi Arabia and the UAE reemerged, as the main financial backer of that plan, which has never been fully disclosed to the public. This strategic long-term multi-billion dollar project is not the first that was envisioned by the Egyptian state, backed by the army and financed by Saudi and the UAE investment. Toushka New Valley was an earlier, now incomplete and failed, project which aimed to build a 300km canal in southern Egypt connecting Lake Nasser with a series of oasis to create a “second Nile branch.” That project was a total failure, which led to the loss of natural resources as well as the wasting of billions of dollars. The New Valley project however did not impact cities, spaces or publics as it was mainly through uninhabited territory. However, Suez strategic development future projects imagined by the same consortium of actors (the military, the state and Gulf capital) impacts the three Canal Zone cities directly with a combined population of over 1.5 million people.

This research project takes the Suez Canal cities as the sites from which to understand the ways in which the flow of Gulf capital into the Egyptian state’s development projects under the sponsorship of the military impacts communities and the spatial transformations of the cities they inhabit. While %20 of global container trade passes through the canal by the cities of Port Said, Ismailia and Suez, those cities continue to be impoverished. As the world passes by communities in those cities continue to live on the periphery of national politics with restricted access to information or access to municipal systems that shape and manage their cities. Seen as sites of critical national security, the cities of the Canal Zone are guaranteed appointed governors linked to the military institution. The Gulf financed strategic plans for the Suez Zone treat the three cities within the zone as Tabula Rasa. The brief journalistic coverage of the plan shows no recognition of the zone’s existing urban centers or the role of local populations in the plan. The three cities have witnessed increased violence and worker protests since the start of the Arab Spring, events which seem to have had little effect on the state’s strategic plans. These recent mobilizations by various social groups, mainly youth and workers, in response to national but also local politics in resistance to the constant pull by the militarized state to enforce its hegemony and future vision for these cities make Suez cities unique spaces of struggle given the uniqueness of the Canal and the tenuous status of the Sinai Peninsula beyond it.

The project is grounded in Lefebvrian theory of the production of space and is further driven by the “global turn” in cultural theory and critical urban studies, which has attempted to trace the impact of globalization on the life of cities. Additionally the work of Neil Smith, particularly his classic Uneven Development: Nature, Capital, and the Production of Space will be useful in providing a rich theoretical foundation for the project. David Harvey’s influential work will also guide this project as well as Arjun Appadurai’s recent work The Future as cultural Fact: Essays on the Global Condition and Vivek Chibber’s Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital.







Mohammed Ezzeldin

Mohammed Ezzeldin is a PhD student in the department of history in the City University of New York (The Graduate Center).  He is teaching undergraduate courses on modern Egypt in City College of New York and working currently on the genealogies of revolution in Egypt by tracing the transformation of violence and temporality in decades preceded the revolution. His MA thesis discussed the history and memory of banditry in early twentieth century’s Egypt, it focused on the story of Adham al-Sahrqawi, one of the most famous folk heroes in the modern history of Egypt, who was murdered by the police in the aftermaths of 1919 revolt.

Mohammed Ezzeldin’s project:

Violence, Neoliberalism and the Production of Slums in Cairo

My research project approaches the complicated dynamics of the revolution by investigating how Cairo’s slums engaged with the protests and insurgencies, and how they contributed to the initial downfall of police state in 2011.

Such angle, I argue, is highly illustrative for different concerns. On the one hand, studying slums’ role in the revolution casts a critical light on the demographic intricacies of the “people” who marched for the “downfall of the regime.” The encounters between protesters and police troops were not confined to middle class young women and men activists or political activists; on the contrary the major bulk of “people” included a heterogeneous spectrum of protestors, subaltern residents, outcasts, ex-convicts, and even thugs. On the other hand, it reveals the relation between slums, violence and neoliberal governmentality that permeated social, economic and political atmosphere in Egypt in the years that preceded the outbreak of the revolution.

Dina El-Sharnouby

Dina El-Sharnouby is a doctoral Candidate at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies, at the Freie Universität Berlin in political and social sciences. Her topic concerns “What Happened to Revolutionary Youth after the 2011 Revolution in Egypt?”. Having been actively involved in the protests movements in Egypt since 2011 she tries to conceptualize and understand the surfacing phenomenon of youth politics, youth movements, and a rising youth subjectivity. She obtained her Master Degree in Sociology /Anthropology from the American University in Cairo with a thesis entitled “Youth and the 25th Revolution in Egypt: Agents of Change and its Multiple Meanings” in which she tried to understand the talk on youth before, during the 18 days, and after that from youth perspectives, national discourse, and public talk.

Dina El-Sharnouby’s project:

What happened to the Revolutionary Youth after the January 25th Revolution? – A Comparative Study on Egyptian Youth Groups

A revolution is more than an overturn of the existing legal and political system. With the Egyptian revolution important taboos and ways of thinking have been challenged and are in the process of being redefined. It is not the revolution that creates new ideas or ways of being per say but rather surfacing ideas and ways of communication while allowing for new spaces of interaction. The Egyptian revolution in that respect has surfaced an existing youth culture that is affected by and is affecting youth politics. While an active youth political participation started before the revolution it was still dominated by the few and remained largely unchallenged. With the revolution youth became visible to Egypt’s process of transformation who have been celebrated as the “makers of the Egyptian revolution” by the public. What was referred to among national and international media as the “Egyptian Youth Revolution” implies the important role of young Egyptians during the eighteen days of the uprising .  With the substantial youth contribution both in numbers of people taking to the streets during the eighteen days and their management of  the most visible revolutionary space, Tahrir square,  in securing entrances, distributing food and water, and setting up field hospitals to treat the wounded has given an unforgettable experience to the Egyptian population at large. The uprising on the 25th of January 2011 has sparked a different youth involvement affecting and changing their social and political behaviors in fundamental ways. However, after more than three years later that was filled with much violence and continuous changes in the political leadership with mainly the old political guards rising and falling on the political sphere, young people are within the process of defining and redefining the notion of politics through an emerging youth politics. To understand this better this research asks what happened to Revolutionary Youth in Egypt since 25th of January 2011? With the revolution important transformations have happened that makes the study on youth particularly interesting. That is so because Egyptian youth have transformed and sharpened their political logic, their conceptualization of political players, their target groups, and forms of doing politics while most importantly crystalizing their ideas and visions for a better Egypt, making them substantial actors in the political sphere and hence contributing to political frictions in demanding new ways of governance. To understand this better this research aims in studying (1) changes in political opinions, practices, and tactics of action among revolutionary youth, (2) the effects on youth’s political participation during rapidly changing political events since 2011, and finally (3) venues and ways of youth’s political interaction that makes them substantial actors in the political sphere. The research will focus on four youth groups namely the 6th of April Youth movement, the youth wing of the Constitution Party, the Bread and Freedom party under development, and finally the youth wing of the Muslim Brotherhood.