Gerasimos Gerasimos
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Constructing the migrant as a subject of power in Egypt
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This first empirical chapter sets the stage for an analysis of the politics of migration in the contemporary Middle East via an in-depth analysis of the linkages between emigration and foreign policy in the case of Egypt. Modern Egypt was chosen as a case study based on two factors. First, the country has a historical standing as the largest regional provider of migrant labour. Second, the qualitative variety of migratory processes throughout the history of modern Egypt, and their quantitative increase in the post-1973 period, have endowed the Egyptian case with a vast array of writings, debates, customs, and social rituals on migration, whose discursive importance has been unexamined. This chapter argues that Egyptian practices demonstrate key linkages between emigration, subject-making processes, and foreign policy in the 1952–2011 era. The discourse on migration under Nasser reflected a broader collectivist ethos, under which the theme of population movement was employed to discipline Egyptian citizens in accordance with the regime’s ideology of statism-developmentalism. In contrast, migration and, more specifically, return migration under Sadat and Mubarak was employed to promote an individualisation of responsibility, as citizens disciplined themselves to use their freedom in making responsible choices under a broader turn towards neoliberalism.

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