Call for papers
Egypte Monde Arabe

Fragment(s) of memor(ies):
The enduring question of Space and Storytelling 


Mayada Madbouly (Université Paris Nanterre, ISP): 

Dr Aya Nassar (Durham University): 


At some point in 2020, Cairo’s cemeteries were being demolished to extend a highway network while simultaneously trees were being uprooted to make way for flyovers. This moment was experienced by many as a moment of erasure and loss, a further fragmentation of material and ecological space as well as the history it conveys. While it might seem minor in the grand events of that year, it however galvanises a range of ongoing questions and paradoxes about the fragmentary nature of spaces of memory, authorship of storytelling and senses of belonging to (some kind of) space. For decades, the twin issues of remembering and memorialising space on one hand, and forgetting and neglecting on the other hand, have been intertwined with attempts at carving spaces for memory. While many initiatives and actions have grappled with these questions, this special issue asks: how are the stories of the past told? Where? How? By whom? Within which contexts? And to what effects?

These concerns are by no means new. Indeed, the fault lines of memory, narrative and storytelling cut across the heart of what it means to be a political subject in Egypt as well as beyond (Mossallam, 2017; 2012). In asking these questions we acknowledge that spaces of memory are complex: actors include the state and its staging of its official story (Attalah & Makar, 2014; Nassar, 2019), different articulations of nationalism (Clement, 2005), various spaces of nostalgia (Agha, 2019), academics like us who are ever-so-fascinated by writing ourselves in the question of the past and its afterlives, as well as activists, practitioners and social media users. The past, as many have noted, is not only contested, but it haunts the present (Salem, 2019) and provides certain promises for an imagined future (Mossallam, 2014). The past could also be perceived as “the effect of the present” (Lavabre, 2016, 8), i.e. constructed by (our) selective memory. With the increasing awareness of the fragmented and incomplete nature of storytelling, the lack of accessibility of archives (El Shakry, 2015) and the overwhelming dominance of specific regimes of memory, we are particularly interested in exploring the intersection of questions of space and memory. More specifically, we invite contributors to reflect on the fragmentary practices and articulations that compel various actors, or “memory agents” (Haugbolle, 2019), to do memory work “Faire mémoire” (Boumaza, 2018): political, academic, artistic, activist or otherwise. What animates these endeavours? What does the act of remembering promise? How does forgetting operate as an ever-present looming threat? 

While this Call for papers is centred on questions of memory in the Egyptian context, we would be happy to receive submissions that deal with relevant issues in Sudan. We welcome interdisciplinary submissions from social sciences, humanities and architecture. We also encourage submissions that range in format and word count in recognition that the format of writing is integral to the fragmented and entangled nature of work on memory. Visual essays, short postcards (c. 500 words), fragments of research, vignettes, creative and fictional academic writing are all welcomed alongside traditional academic format. In your submission of an abstract, please indicate how the length and format works best to evoke your intellectual concern. 

Abstracts should be no longer than 400 words and should include a short biography of 150 words.


  • Deadline for abstract submissions: November 1st, 2020
  • Notification for selected authors: November 15th, 2020
  • Deadline for submission of complete articles: February 15th, 2021
  • Peer-review and revisions: March-May 2021
  • Publication: July 1st, 2021


Agha, Menna. 2019. “Nubia still exists: the utility of the nostalgic space”, Humanities, 8(1). Available at 

Attalah, Moataz and Farida Makar. 2014. “Nationalism and Homogeneity in Contemporary Curricula. The Social and Economic Rights Unit”, Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. Available at: 

Boumaza, Magali (dir.). 2018. Faire mémoire. Regard croisé sur les mobilisations mémorielles (France, Allemagne, Ukraine, Turquie, Égypte), Paris, L’Harmattan.

El Shakry, Omnia. 2015. “History without Documents”: The Vexed Archives of Decolonization in the Middle East’. The American Historical Review, 120(3): 920–34.

Casey, Edward S. 2004. “Public Memory in Place and Time”. In Public Memory, edited by Kendall Phillips. University of Alabama Press.

Halbwachs, Maurice. 1997. La mémoire collective, Paris, Albin Michel. 

Haugbolle, Sune. 2019. “Memory Studies in the Middle East: Where Are We Coming From and Where Are We Going?”. Middle East Critique, 28(3): 279–88.

Lavabre, Marie-Claire. 2016. “La « mémoire collective » entre sociologie de la mémoire et sociologie des souvenirs?” Pré-publication document de travail, HAL-SHS. Available at 

Mossallam, Alia. 2012. Hikāyāt Sha‛b – Stories of Peoplehood: Nasserism, Popular Politics and Songs in Egypt, 1956-1973. PhD thesis, London: The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). Available at

2014. ‘“We Are the Ones Who Made This Dam ‘High’!” A Builders’ History of the Aswan High Dam’. Water History, 6(4): 297–314. Available at

2017. “History Workshops in Egypt: An Experiment in History Telling”. History Workshop Journal, 83(1): 241–51.

Nassar, Aya. 2019. “Staging the State: Commemoration, Urban Space and the National Symbolic Order in 1970s Cairo”. Middle East Critique, 28 (3): 321–39. Available at

Nora, Pierre. 1989. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire”. Representations, 26: 7–24. Available at:

Salem, Sara. 2019. “Haunted Histories: Nasserism and the Promises of the Past”. Middle East Critique, 28 (3): 261–77. Available at