Call for papers, Egypte Monde Arabe n° 24. March 2021
Special Issue on: ” Public space, publicness and social transformations ”
Appel à articles, Egypte Monde Arabe no 24. Mars 20211.
Dossier thématique « Espace(s) public(s), esprit public et transformations sociales »
For the french version click here
Following Egypt and Sudan’s dramatic political events over the last decade, many studies have emphasized the study of change in the public spaces (Abaza, 2014; Stephenson, 2011; Alraouf, 2011; Bahreldin, 2020). The topic of the public space has previously instigated crucial debates into the concepts of the right to the city and the production of space (Lefebvre, 1991; Harvey, 2012), the just city (McLaren, 2016; Low, 2016; Iveson, 2013), and the right to revolution (Harvey, 2012). Today, narratives and discourses on citizenship and the right to the city in the two countries have burgeoned in the media and social networks, generally in line with liberal visions of representative democracy. Yet, little attention has been given to the concrete places and arrangements from where public spaces might develop.
This special Issue of Egypt Soudan Mondes Arabes aims to explore how “investigating the means of making and remaking public space provides a unique window on the politics of the public sphere” (Low and Smith, 2006, 7). Stemming from this suggestion, we argue that studies which have approached the “production of space” in its Lefebvrian sense have often neglected public space and publicness, especially in Egypt, Sudan, and in the MENA region. Urban studies and architecture also anchor in approaches of the physical shapes that fail to capture the real practices and their politization.
Public spaces range from designed open places to ad hoc open spaces used by the public. They might include intermediary spaces such as coffee shops or collective seating places or dedicated rooms open to the public (salons-banks-madafas). But the notion reflects many conflicting visions that need to be unveiled and thoroughly understood. Planners and final users do often oppose in their visions of public spaces. Official and political designation of public spaces may differ greatly from ordinary and scientific definition: for instance, streets and roads could be depicted as public spaces but often fail to play this role as they serve exclusive vehicular mobility. Therefore, this special issue favors Isaac Joseph (1992) pragmatic’s depiction of public space as places of unrestricted accessibility and circulation, visibility, and diversity. We question the reality of two conflicting narratives in Egypt and Sudan and more broadly in the midldle-east : the “defeat of public spaces” and the public space as “a space of resistance”.
Using the concept of publicness, we intend to uncover the set of significations and experiences entailed by diverse public issues in ordinary and event-related uses of public spaces allowing the experience of otherness and diversity, including the gender dimension (Monqid, 2020). Public spaces and publicness are spanning socio-political and religious (mawlids, pilgrimages, etc.) events, ordinary practices of the city but also civic and politicized movements.
This special issue questions how the current social and spatial morphologies of the region and the on-going crises of governance shape the practices and perceptions of public spaces and how these spaces might build a sense of citizenship. Going back to traditional definitions might prove useful. According to Habermas (1991) public spheres in Europe began with the development of coffee houses and salons, where citizens, regardless of their status, could freely discuss. However, such public spheres lost their autonomy with the strengthening of control by modern states. Many continuities can be observed between forms and practices of public spaces, while being adapted to place-making, urban regulations, and changing social norms. Adopting a post-western perspective does not impede to foresee these continuities but rather allows to question the topicality and representations of public spaces and publicness in Egypt, Sudan and other Middle Eastern societies. This last decade has undergone an unprecedented political use of public spaces and a deep redefinition, from revolutionary practices to processes of securization, politicizing and moralization (Schielke, 2008) allowing parallels with on-going developments worldwide. But new and creative definitions may be necessary to research public spaces in the vast peripheries of cities in Egypt and Sudan, be it private and close developments, huge self-developed settlements and large public housing stock without any predefined public space (Elgendy, Frigerio, 2019; Strycker and Nagati, 2013).
Our entry points are pluri-fold, ranging from ordinary practices such as appropriation (Adham 2011) to create and perform public or intermediary spaces to initiatives to reclaim the streets. If we’d like to question the positions of public spaces in the urban and socio-political structures, it could lead to look into public spaces as engine of social change in contexts of privatization and commodification.
This call for papers argues that public spaces and publicness are engines for a better understanding of current socio-spatial and multifaceted overall transformations, namely questioning how both the massive protest events that occurred in the region between 2011 and 2018 and their aftermath but also the growing commodification and privatization of spaces have modified the understanding, practices, and politics of public spaces? This call for publications is organized around two main directions.
The first one addresses the changing social and civic orders in the region through a careful examination of public spaces generation, reconfiguration and representations. Can we carefully depict conflicting representations of public good, normative order and social change taking place in existing or newly created public spaces? Is it possible to look at public spaces at different scales and temporalities to understand their interplay with public practices and publicness? Which places do accomodate the invention of other practices, including cohabitation and acceptation to otherness in migratory settings?
The second one challenges the traditional divide between approaches of physical public spaces and )places of the public understood as practiced public spaces. Many questions unfold here: what is the changing relationship between design and public policies, on one hand, and collective understanding and effective use of spaces, on the other hand? How is it possible to qualify these places and their use in new planned areas and even gated communities sprawling in many urban and touristic areas? What is the space for a pedestrian use of the city and to which extent walking and strolling contradict a wide tendency to restrict the use of public spaces ? Is it possible to examine the resistance and invention of other practices, including cohabitation and acceptation to otherness in migratory settings?
Papers from different disciplinary perspectives are welcome, including geography, sociology, anthropology, architecture, urban studies, history, and political science. We encourage young and senior scholars to submit their proposals.
Abaza, M. (2014). Post-January Revolution Cairo: Urban Wars and the Reshaping of Public Space. Theory, Culture & Society, 31(8), 163–183. https://doi.org/10.1177/0263276414549264
Adham Khaled, “Making or shaking the state. Urban boundaries of state control and popular appropriation in Sayyida Zeinab model park”, in Cairo contested. Governance, urban space and global modernity, American University in Cairo press, 2011, p. 41-62
Alraouf, A. A. (2011). “Creative Urban Chaos in Cairo’s Spaces after the January 2011 Revolution. The Nile Bridges and Maidan Tahrir”. Omran, 5(18), 33–62.
Bahreldin, I. Z. (2020). “Beyond the Sit-In: Public Space Production and Appropriation in Sudan’s December Revolution”, 2018. Sustainability, 12(12), 5194. https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125194
Elgendy Noheir, Frigerio Alessandro, 2019, “Cairo. Right to the city and public space in post-revolutionary Cairo” in The routledge handbook on informal urbanization, Ed. Roberto Rocco and Jan Van Ballegooijen, 2019, pp. 65-75.
Habermas, J. (1991). The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere (Sixth Print). The MIT Press. Originally published in 1962.
Harvey, D. Rebel Cities: From the Right to the city to the Urban Revolution; Verso: London, UK, 2012.
Iveson, K. Cities within the City: Do-It-Yourself Urbanism and the Right to the City. Int. J. Urban Reg. Res. 2013, 37, 941–956.
Lefebvre, H. The production of space; Nicholson-Smith, D., Ed.; Basil Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 1991. 16.
Low, S., & Smith, N. (Eds.). (2006). The politics of public space (1st Edition). Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203390306
Low, S.; Iveson, K. Propositions for more just urban public spaces. City 2016, 20, 10–31.
McLaren, D.; Agyeman, J. Sharing Cities: Governing the City as Commons. In The City as Commons: A Policy Reader; Ramos, J.M., Ed.; Commons Transition Coalition: Melbourne, Australia, 2016; pp.77–79.
Monqid Safaa, “Harcèlement et espace public”, notice in l’Abécédaire de la ville au Maghreb et au Moyen-Orient, in Florin, Madoeuf, Sanmartin, Stadnicki et F. Troin (eds.), Presses Universitaires François Rabelais, 2020, p. 153-156
Schielke Samuli, 2008, “Policing ambiguity: Muslim saints-day festivals and the moral geography of public space in Egypt”, American anthropologist, vol.35, n°4, 539-552
Stephenson, K. (2011). From Tiananmen to Tahrir. Knowing one’s place in the 21st century. Organizational Dynamics, 40(4), 281–291. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.orgdyn.2011.07.005
Stryker, Beth, Omar Nagaty, and Magda Mostafa. 2013. Lessons from Cairo: International Visions and Future Visions. Cairo: Auc Press and Cluster.
- Ibrahim Z. Bahreldin, Associate professor in urban and environmental design, University King Abdulaziz and Khartoum University
- Agnès Deboulet, Professor of sociology, University Paris 8 & LAVUE, CEDEJ director, Cairo
- Erina Iwasaki, Professor at the department of foreign studies, Sofia University, Tokyo
Details for submission
- The journal is accepting original contribution of either a full paper or a short communication contribution. Full papers should be between 5.000 and 8.000 words, including notes and references, while short communication paper is between 2.000 and 4.000 words, including notes and references. The word limit includes notes and bibliographical references.
- Proposals should include an abstract (400 words) and a short biography (150 words). They can be sent in French, English, or Arabic.
- The submission should be a short or full paper that has not been previously published nor is currently under consideration for publication elsewhere.
- Submission can be made by email to the Editors at the following addresses: firstname.lastname@example.org, ïyassein@kau.edu.sa, email@example.com
- Before submitting, please read both the Submission Preparation Checklist and the Author Guidelines.
- The submission file is in Microsoft Word file format. Please use the publication format template as a reference.
- Bibliographical references must follow the EMA standards as reported on the EMA journal website.
- First Call for Papers: March 13, 2021
- Deadline for abstract submissions: April 30, 2021
- Notification for selected authors: May 15, 2021
- Deadline for submission of complete articles: July 25, 2021
- Peer-review and revisions: August-September 2021
- Paper and on-line Publication: October 2021
 The journal’s title will change within the next months to Egypte Soudan Mondes Arabes