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Everyday life practices after the event

In Cairo collages, the large-scale political, economic, and social changes in Egypt brought on by the 2011 revolution are set against the declining fortunes of a single apartment building in a specific Cairo neighbourhood. The violence in Tahrir Square and Mohamed Mahmud Street; the post-January euphoric moment; the increasing militarisation of urban life; the flourishing of dystopian novels set in Cairo; the neo-liberal imaginaries of Dubai and Singapore as global models; gentrification and evictions in poor neighbourhoods; the forthcoming new administrative capital for Egypt – all are narrated in parallel to the ‘little’ story of the adventures and misfortunes of everyday interactions in a middle-class building in the neighbourhood of Doqi.

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This chapter addresses the circumstances that ensued after the 2011 January revolution, resulting in the writing of this book. It addresses theoretical sociological questions concerned with post-traumatic and euphoric moments. It engages with debates on the anthropology of ethics. It equally addresses Cairo’s major urban disparities, evictions, and the question of the failing neo-liberal housing policies.

in Cairo collages
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Commute

Chapter 2 narrates the personal meanderings and wanderings and descriptions of billboards advertising massive real-estate projects of compounds and gated communities along the commute to the Eastern Desert towards the district of New Cairo. It also addresses one Ramadan television serial and three dystopian novels, which portray imagined and real depictions of the gated communities’ lifestyles of the rich and apocalyptic images of the city of Cairo.

in Cairo collages
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My exhausted and exhausting building

This chapter focuses on the history of the quarter of Doqi, with an emphasis on the life-world of a building and the elevator around which a multitude of stories are woven. The chapter engages with the work of Stephen Graham on elevators. The question of multiplying elevator incidents and everyday interactions in the neighbourhood are discussed. The chapter also addresses the topic of elevators in one Egyptian film and focuses on Naguib Mahfouz’s novel Modern Cairo, which takes place in the neighbourhood of Doqi.

in Cairo collages
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The degeneration of everyday material conditions

This chapter narrates the story when the elevator collapsed finally while carrying people. It also narrates the process of replacing it and the numerous problems related to rubbish collecting, the stairwells, communal water, and electricity bills in the building.

in Cairo collages
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Order

This chapter discusses the overwhelming role of the army in civil life and the harsher comeback of the police forces after 2011. It tackles the grandiose neo-liberal project of the New Cairo Capital erected by President Sisi.

in Cairo collages
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Al-‘imaara (the building) as topos

This chapter discusses the idea of the ‘building’ as a literary and sociological ‘topos’. It discusses Cairo’s major makeovers since 2011, with an emphasis on the violent incidents of Mohamed Mahmud Street in 2011.

The chapter discusses too the question of nostalgia and the city. It addresses the theoretical debate of ‘Singapore as a model’ (Chua 2011) to extend it to the phantasm of replicating mini-Dubai(s) in Egypt.

in Cairo collages
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Nostalgia and al-zaman al-gamiil (the ‘beautiful old times’)

Time and again, this chapter provides detailed descriptions of a flat in the quarter of Doqi and the daily interaction with the neighbourhood. It describes street life and the expansion of popular cafés. It also focuses on the lively soundscape of schools of the neighbourhood together with state propaganda songs played in schools.

in Cairo collages