Women in Cairo's Public Spaces
Maria Neubert /Anna-Theresa Bachmann
Diskussionspapiere - Volkswirtschaft des Vorderen Orients
Klaus Schwarz Verlag
1. Edition (2018)
geheftet, 44 pages
With a Photo Documentation by Sarah Seliman
Cairo, Egypt’s vibrant capital on the Nile River, has witnessed turbulent times over the past decade. When the mobilization of civil society led to the toppling of the Mubarak regime in 2011, it seemed that each and every grain of sand the ancient city was built on had shaken. In spatial terms, the core of this movement manifested itself in Tahrir Square, gaining meaning through the power of the people gathering at this very sight. Soon however, it became clear that the long-dug trenches separating civil society along economic, political, and religious lines could not be backfilled with the red-white-black flags. Instead, the city remained a stage of contestation where different lines of protesters, activists and every-day citizens, along with the recovering government forces voiced their visions for Cairo’s (and Egypt’s) future by different means of force, art, and abstention. The participation of women throughout this political and societal reshaping came as a surprise to few, while being a matter of course for others, and constituting an unwanted presence for some.
While the more drastic events fill pages in newspapers, academic journals and history books, the everyday negotiations in the aftermath oftentimes remain unnoticed. This publication documents a small project that started off with two workshops in 2015 and later turned into an art installation. At the same time, the publication seeks to embed everyday contestations into an academic framework. Especially now that the glory of 2011 is fading and called into question. Various segments of civil society are frozen, and many every-day citizens are burdened with even more economic hardships. Stories of daily struggle in general, and of women in Cairo’s public spaces in particular, bear witness to this suffering, strength, and creativity – all at the same time.