[P4614] Generations, Ruination and Memory in Egypt 1952- 2011

Created by Mohammed Ezzeldin
Saturday, 11/19/16 2:00pm


Five years after the Arab revolutions, the inheritance of the post-colonial state has come into question, specifically in regards to the possible unfolding or stalling of the emancipatory project of decolonization and independence.
This panel problematizes the way the present is haunted, refracted or shadowed by the afterlives of the past. In Omens of Adversity David Scott argues that we need to pay particular attention to the dynamics of aftermaths and ruins of the postcolonial past. The collapse of postcolonial self-determination has undermined the way people believe in transformative political futures and changed their understandings of the past as a time that can be overcome.
Such problematic relationship will be addressed through the vantage point of ruins and remembrance. It builds on a growing literature and increasing interest in the prism of ruination as a landscape of politics and memory, and its deployment in understanding the postcolony (Gordillo 2014, Stoler 2013, Benjamin 1968). It seeks to do so by raising questions in regards to the theoretical resources it provides for understandings of the Middle East.
The panel, therefore, questions the space and time of emancipation, and the claims of sovereignty of the post-independence state. By building on several case studies from different disciplinary backgrounds, the panel will seek to bridge questions of generations and intergenerational memory, remembrance and forgetfulness as well as questions of the materiality of building and ruination. Drawing from anthropology, history, political science, and urban studies, the panelists address rural and urban spaces, intergenerational memoirs and narratives. They therefore experiment with different forms of archives of the post-independence state. The panel investigates traces of incompleteness, vulnerable acts of government as well the resources of political agency in enacting and contesting the space-time of the state and its deployment on everyday time, historicity and infrastructure.


Benjamin, Walter. 1968 [1955]. Theses on the Philosophy of History. In Illuminations, pp. 253-264. NY: Schocken Books.

El Shakry, Omnia S. 2007. The Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt. Stanford, Calif: Stanford University Press.

Gordillo, GastoĢn. 2014. Rubble: The Afterlife of Destruction. Durham: Duke University Press.

Koselleck, Reinhart. 2004. Futures past on the semantics of historical time. New York: Columbia University Press.

Scott, David. 2013. Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice. Duke University Press.

Stoler, Ann Laura. 2013. Imperial Debris: On Ruins and Ruination. Durham: Duke University Press.


Anthro; Archit & Urb Plng; Hist; Lit; Pol Science