Atelier Recherche du CEDEJ
CEDEJ Research workshop
” The Wasta as a Social Infrastructure in Rural Egypt ”
21st of April 2021 at 3 pm
Zoom webinar in English
This talk will address the everyday practices of Wasta, or connection building as a form of “social infrastructure” in rural Egypt to address how citizens access state services. Wasta, as a social infrastructure, serves as the basis through which citizens develop channels of alliance building and communicative skills that are essential to navigating the state bureaucracy and accessing basic needed services. The talk addresses two Nile Delta villages’ differing relationships to representatives of authority to understand how different speaking genres arise from and give rise to material infrastructures like homes and roads in the two villages. For example, the presence of a Omda (village headman) versus a youth-led village council, produces different speaking genres. I argue that the two villages’ differing communicative practices, serving as a channel for Wasta initiation, are linked to their differing rural histories and connections to land. The talk will connect the social infrastructures of the materiality of communication to the physical infrastructures of the materiality of place.
Nada El Kouny received a PhD in anthropology from Rutgers University. Her dissertation investigated the role of social action, mobilization, and infrastructure in the Nile Delta governorates of Beheira and Daqahliya. Nada is currently a Research Manager at the Center for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, focusing on Egyptian migrant workers.