Public workshop organised in cooperation between AUC and CEDEJ/IFAO. A range of scholars will present their work on male bodies in Egypt in times of economic stress.
“Making it Work: Economies of the Male Body in Egypt”
Saturday, July 6, AUC Tahrir, Oriental Hall, 3-7 pm
In recent decades, previously hegemonic understandings of Egyptian masculinity as primarily a matter of domination and patriarchy have been unsettled fundamentally. Whether in the context of nurturing care, material constraints of marriage, romantic desire, reproductive technologies, sexuality, or sports, ethnographers and historians have nuanced notions of Egyptian manhood and compensated for the ‘dis-embodiment’ of men found in much earlier scholarship. Aiming to push this line of thinking further, the workshop discusses economic structures impacting on and interacting with non-elite male bodies in Egypt. Our conversation departs from two ostensibly contradictory observations. First, from the ‘marriage crisis’ in the early twentieth century to the current neoliberal impasse, young Egyptian men have found themselves waiting: waiting for a job; waiting to accumulate enough financial resources to get married and start self-determined lives; waiting for something political to happen. And second, men in Egypt live under socioeconomic pressure to labor: labor under often exploitative and stressful conditions, sometimes in several jobs concurrently, for long hours that leave little time for recreation, (bodily) pleasures and social interaction.
Within this nexus of stasis and stress, the aim of this workshop is to explore dynamics between these two poles in relation to social class and voluntarily as well as involuntarily investments in Egyptian male bodies. The presentations will examine how bodies are constituted and exploited through a series of historical as well as ethnographic case studies.
Mustafa Abdalla (FU Berlin): Diseased Bodies, Empowered Souls. Disease and masculinity among professional patients in Egypt
Karin Ahlberg (Stockholm University): Exhausting the male body: a shock absorber between social expectations and capitalist precarity
Ilka Eickhof (AUC): It’s worth it, let me work it – Gyms and the disciplining of male bodies in Cairo
Mariz Kelada (Brown University): Behind the Scene/Seen: Technical Workers’ Embodiment of the Political Economy of the Film Industry in Egypt
Joseph Ben Prestel (Princeton University and FU Berlin): Suburban Productivity: The Reform of Male Bodies in Cairo’s New Neighborhoods, 1890s-1930s
Youssef Ramez (CUNY): A pill, a cup of tea, and a cigarette: The Male Body in Egypt in the ‘Age of Viagra’
Carl Rommel (University of Helsinki): All Work and No Play? Economic pressures and bodily pleasures in contemporary Egypt
Hania Sobhy (Max Planck Institute): Disciplining the Male Body: Class, Violence and Masculinity in Egyptian Schools
Ilka Eickhof and Carl Rommel