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Political Life in Cairo’s New Quarters: Encountering the Everyday State

Salwa Ismail
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Political Life in Cairo’s New Quarters
    Book Description:

    Since the 1970s, Cairo has experienced tremendous growth and change. Salwa Ismail examines the effects of these changes in Political Life in Cairo's New Quarters. Rich in ethnographic detail, this work reveals the city's new urban quarters as sites not only of opposition, but also under governmental surveillance, situating the everyday within the context of developments in Cairo._x000B_

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-9896-7
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. A Note on Transliteration
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Glossary of Arabic Terms
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction Space, Politics, and the Everyday State in Cairo
    (pp. xvii-xlvi)

    This study investigates everyday practices of government in Cairo’s new popular quarters. Its research problem centers on the role of sociospatial variables in shaping quarter residents’ relations with the state and with the wider urban setting. The motivating interest behind this inquiry emerged, in part, from my earlier work on Islamist activism, in which I came to see the Islamist movement as a protest movement that had a particular spatial grounding (Ismail 2000, 2003). Indeed, I found that in various urban settings of Cairo, support for the movement, as well as the movement’s mobilization of activists, was anchored in the...

  7. Chapter 1 Reconfiguring Cairo: New Popular Quarters between the Local and the Global
    (pp. 1-32)

    In the aftermath of the 1992 confrontation between the state and the al-Jama’a al-Islamiyya activists in Imbaba, the term‘ashwa’iyyatgained prominence in public discourse.¹ The term, literally meaning “haphazard,” was used to refer to varied urban forms thought to have escaped state control and regulation. It designated entire quarters of the city as well as markets and areas with concentrations of huts and kiosks. In public discourse,‘ashwa’iyyatidentified what went wrong with the city, evoking motifs of social deviance, crime, and the like. Unplanned by the state, the‘ashwa’iyyatcame to be viewed as problematic places and as...

  8. Chapter 2 Internal Governance: Forms and Practices of Government in Everyday Life
    (pp. 33-65)

    Examining the everyday practices of government and forms of social organization in the new quarters is essential to our understanding of the patterns of interaction between quarter residents and the state. One of the key questions that guided this inquiry was that of whether and how everyday-life practices and structures at the level of the quarter give shape to a certain measure of autonomy in the community’s governance of its internal affairs. I useinternal governanceto refer to the exercise of social and moral control and to the management of basic needs and services within the boundaries of a...

  9. Chapter 3 Neoliberalism and the Relocation of Welfare
    (pp. 66-95)

    The idea that the people should be recipients of the state’s largesse and of either free or heavily subsidized services was at the core of “the social contract” characterization of state–society relations in Egypt. Since the 1952 revolution, the Egyptian state has defined itself as a welfare state concerned with its citizens’ social reproduction. Welfare provisions were fundamental to the ideological justifications of the ruling regimes in postrevolutionary Egypt. Further, they have entered into the terms organizing state–society relations as embodied in the notion of the social contract. The policies and laws that marked the outlines of this...

  10. Chapter 4 Youth, Gender, and the State in Cairo: Marginalized Masculinities and Contested Spaces
    (pp. 96-128)

    This chapter examines the interplay between young men’s interaction with the Egyptian state, their constructions of masculinities, and gender relations. More specifically, it interrogates how gender relations, state practices of control, and constructions of masculinities, as sites of power and domination, traverse one another and contribute to a state of flux that may open up possibilities for challenge and defiance on the part of differently situated subordinate subjects. Gender, as a social category, mediates interaction with the state. In turn, state practices—themselves gendered—shape gender constructions in terms of negotiating masculinity and femininity. Drawing on fieldwork I conducted among...

  11. Chapter 5 The Politics of Security: An Economy of Violence and Control
    (pp. 129-160)

    This chapter is focused on ordinary citizens’ encounters with the everyday state in Bulaq al-Dakrur. My main argument is that there has been a marked and qualitative shift from the distributive state to the security state and that this development is part of a wider dynamic of state–society relations involving processes of engagement and disengagement on the part of both the state and societal forces. State disengagement, as we have seen in chapter 3, has taken the form of withdrawal from the provision of public social services, including the elimination of subsidies, masked privatization of schooling, contracting out, and...

  12. Postscript Collective Action and the Everyday State
    (pp. 161-168)

    Against the background of state disengagement from welfare provision and the intensified politics of security, what kind of state–society relations obtain in Egypt? Inaction, passivity, evasion, and fear are all features of encounters with the everyday state. Meanwhile, trickery appears as one modality of citizen interaction with the state. The questions that arise are: What of resistance? What can we make of instances of confrontation or of events in which we find popular contentious action? There is a need to examine these events closely and to scrutinize their features in the hope of developing a clear view of the...

  13. Appendix A The “Field” and “Home”: The Politics of Location
    (pp. 171-180)
  14. Appendix B Thematic Outline of Interview Frames
    (pp. 181-184)
  15. Notes
    (pp. 185-196)
  16. Bibliography
    (pp. 197-208)
  17. Index
    (pp. 209-230)
  18. Back Matter
    (pp. 231-231)