The Role of Society in Times of Transition. On Citizenship and Territories of Hope
Author / Authors:
The Egyptian Revolution in January 2011 marked a pivotal transition in Egypt's contemporary history, similar to the Free Officers Movement in 1952 that turned into a monarchy-toppling revolution. Cairo, being the centralised urban magnet of Egypt, encapsulates the political dynamic and societal complexity of the country. The capital, thus, stands as a testament to the socio-political shifts the country has undergone over the past 60 years and the last decade. The series of political events that the city witnessed in that period of time have shaped the ideological constructs of the society and territorial configuration of Cairo's space. To establish the interrelationship between the societal changes and the territorial configuration of the city, this article adopts the analytical perspective of territorial functioning, which articulates three themes – cognition, society and space – as an 'interlinked constellation' (Taylor 1981) of expressed human behaviours related to the control, accessibility and ownership within an environment. It proceeds with a macro analysis of the territorial functioning within Cairo, which, since 1952, has been operating under shifting political ideologies and challenged sentiments of hope, ownership and belonging, focussing especially on the last decade. The article attempts to highlight the pivotal role of society in the territorial development of Cairo as an agent and recipient of change; despite the overarching political ideologies, social territories formulate and organise the city. Lastly, the article addresses the present transitions Cairo and Egypt are going through due to the pandemic as a window to re-envision an active citizenship that enables transformative ideologies, nurtures a sense of ownership, and ultimately a strong societal entity.
Trialog - A Journal for Planning and Building in a Global Context #143 “City, Community and Heritage in Egypt: 2011-2021” edited by Hebatalla Abouelfadl, Mirhan Damir, Mohamed ElGamal and Franziska Laue
- Journal Article