Monday, January 9, 2012

Remaking the Modern in Cairo

Excerpt from the 2003 review of the book:
. . . The study focuses on the ways in which people have altered the visible forms and uses of the spaces allotted to them by the government when they were relocated to al-Zawiya. The book describes the “tactics” and “strategies” employed by people in efforts to realize their visions as individuals and as families. These actions are explored as negotiations with which people selectively appropriate or reinterpret the various powerful forces that condition the context in which they take place. State, global, or religious discourses are not top-down influences to be dichotomously rejected or accepted by the poor. This study challenges the idea of modernity, particularly as it is discussed in relation to Muslim societies. For Ghannam, modernity is not a Western-defined ideal to be more or less successfully emulated by “other” societies, particularly in regard to the emphasis on secularization. Rather, residents of al-Zawiya are modern in that they are both attracted to a religious identity and to the desires and expectations stimulated by globalization, and deal with both in articulating identity and producing neighborhood space - Building the Urban Landscape with the Gendered Spatial Practices of Everyday Life, review of Farha Ghannam's "Remaking the Modern: Space, Relocation and the Politics of Identity in a Global Cairo. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2002" by Amy Mills (Department of Geography, University of Texas at Austin) Published on H-Gender-MidEast (June, 2003).
Read the rest of the review at CairObserver.

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