Despotism and the unmaking of the Egyptian Citizen (conference paper)


I will be giving a presentation this Friday titled “Despotism and the Unmaking of the Egyptian Citizen” at the New Law School, seminar room 342. University of Sydney. At 1.15pm – 2.45pm.
This is part of a panel that includes Lucia Sorbera (presenting Gender, Politics,and Political Legitimacy in Egypt), Sara Verdi (On Memorialisation, AUC) and Walid El Khachab (Popular culture and Reclaiming the public space: Resistance in the aftermath of the Arab Spring, York University). Chaired by May Telmissany (University of Ottowa).
The conference starts this Thursday at 9.15am, and ends on Friday evening. Details on the conference can be viewed here:

Conference program (PDF): Conference Program – April 9-10 2015


How New Beginnings Are Made – From Hannah Arendt to Alain Badiou (Lecture)


Arendt Badiou

click here for the Facebook event.

في السابعة من مساء الخميس 2 أبريل يقدم لكم عمرو علي محاضرة بعنوان (صناعة البدايات من حنا آرنت إلى آلان باديو). تتناول هذه المحاضرة ظاهرة البدايات الجديدة وكيفية حدوثها في العالم، والآليات التي تعزز خلخلة – إن لم يكن اقتلاع – الإطار السياسي والاجتماعي الذي يعرقل التدفق “المتوقع” للتاريخ ويتيح لأشياءٍ جديدة أن ترى النور، والأحداث في المجال العام- وفي أوجها الثورة – التي تخلق مزجًا جديدًا غير متوقع في عالم السياسة. عمرو علي باحث دكتوراه في جامعة سيدني بأستراليا وزميل زائر في مركز برلين للعلوم الاجتماعية ومحلل لشؤون الشرق الأوسط.


The Agony of Alexandria (Lecture)




The Agony of Alexandria lecture examines the political, economic and socio-cultural tensions running through the Egyptian city of Alexandria. The talk provides an analysis on how the state has politically branded the city for ideological goals, from Nasser’s reprimanding and marginalisation of Alexandria for its long association with royal decadence to Mubarak’s manipulation of the city’s public spaces for reconciliation steps with the West. This, among other factors, undermined the Alexandrians’ sense of civic ownership. Moreover, the post-2011 events are further fracturing the coastal city as decades of centralisation have come to a head resulting in the disruption of the urban fabric, brain drain to the capital, hampering of civil society’s growth, the rise of the real estate mafia and the gradual disintegration of the cultural imaginary. The session will conclude with comprehensive ways in which these trends can arguably be reversed. The working language for this lecture will be in English.


Whither Democracy in Egypt? (lecture)


If you are in Sydney, then please feel free to come to a talk this FridA handcuffed protester sits on the ground at a huge camp in Cairo's Al-Nahdaay 27 Sept 2013 that me and Macquarie University lecturer  Noah Bassil will be presenting on the topic: “Whither Democracy in Egypt?” Noah will be discussing the role and relationships between the Brotherhood, the Egyptian state and the US. My talk will discuss the political trajectory of Egypt’s hindered democratic development and the challenges of reforming the brutal security forces.
Time: 6pm to 7.45pm
Date: 27th September 2013
Location: The Gaelic Club, 64 Devonshire Street, Surry Hills


Redefining Alexandria: The Liberal, Salafi, and Muslim Brotherhood Struggle Over the Public Space (conference abstract)


Conference title: Competing Visions in the Muslim World: Rebuilding States and Reinvigorating Civil Societies
Venue: University of Sydney

Date: 14-16 August 2013

My presentation is at 10.30am, 15/Aug/2013, at the Professorial Board Room, The Quadrangle.

Redefining Alexandria: The Liberal, Salafi, and Muslim  Brotherhood Struggle Over the Public Space (conference abstract)

This study seeks to understand the primacy of politics in the public space and the rise of a revolutionary space in Egypt’s second largest city of Alexandria. The city has experienced a long history of political struggles to brand the city in which the state led the destruction of the political by manipulating people and places and injecting external meaning rather than allowing a self-creation by Alexandrian society. The 2011 Revolution was in part an unintended consequence of that Alexprotestsbranding. The dramatic birth of public space and politics in Alexandria was crystallised during the tumultuous but electrifying 18 days of the 2011 uprising – the net result was the birth of an invigorated political public. Individuals of differing ideological persuasions in the coastal city mustered the courage to interrupt their routine activities and break out of their private lives to assemble and produce a public space where freedom and plurality could materialise. However, this human togetherness would be temporal and would make way for Alexandria’s liberals, Salafists and Brotherhood supporters to battle for “control” of the public space and attempt to marginalise the other.

Alexandria is a paradox given that it has swung from a cosmopolitan city in the first half of the twentieth century to the so-called Islamist bastion in the last few decades, to the extent of acting as the base for a resurgence of modern Salafist movements. The past two years have shown each political actor struggling to define the narratives, myths, and vision of the city. Moreover, the past two months in Egypt’s political trajectory have illustrated the unpredictability factor – the decisive character of human affairs – in polarising society and now further entrenching Islamist actors as they perceive an existential threat in the public space as well as further emboldening liberal actors due to the military coming down on their side.

Alexandria is chosen in large part because it is a political laboratory in how a city deals with a fraught process in which a series of contradictory events have happened, far from over, that have only served to illustrate the fragile space of appearance that is dependent and recreated when citizens are together. Yet just as disappointment, sense of injustice, nostalgia, disenchantment, power struggles, are the poisonous fruits of the birth of public space; there comes with it also disintegrative tendencies that can set in with the birth of public space and the events of June and July, Egypt’s people-driven coup, can also have a renewal of another possible beginning.


Mediating the Arab Uprisings (Tadween Publishing)


Click here to get your copy of “Mediating the Arab Uprisings” (Tadween Publishing).

Mediating the Arab Uprisings

With contributions from myself, Linda Herrera, Adel Iskandar, Sultan Sooud Al-Qassemi, VJ Um Amel, Vivian Salama, Nir Rosen, Anthony Alessandrini, Maya Mikdashi, Shiva Balaghi, Amal Hanano, and others…

“From “Facebook revolutions” to “Al-Jazeera uprisings,” the outburst of popular activism across the Arab world has either been attributed to the media, drawn up by the media, observed through the media, or decontextualized by the media. Bloggers become icons, self-proclaimed experts becoming interpreters of unfolding events, stereotypes are cultivated, and autocratic regimes continue to subdue freedom of the press. The uprisings have become the most compelling media stories in recent memory. With so much at stake, the burden of relaying human narratives accurately and responsibly is a burden on all journalistic establishments worldwide.

In a unique collection of essays that covers the expanse of the Arab popular protest movements, Mediating the Arab Uprisings leaves no stone unturned by offering spirited contributions that elucidate the remarkable variation and context behind the fourth estate’s engagement with these mass protests.

So while the public debate about the coverage of the Arab uprisings remain effervescent and polarizing, the essays in this volume go beyond the cursory discussion to historicize media practice, unsettle pre-existing suppositions about the uprisings, puncture the pomposity of self-righteous expertise on the region, and shatter the naiveté that underlies the reporting of the uprisings. The volume includes essays on the tribulations of covering Syria, the contextualization and demythologizing of Facebook activism, the New York Times’ reporting rituals on Palestine, the tumult of Egypt’s media post-Mubarak, the ominous omnipresence of perennial media darling Fouad Ajami, the faltering of Al-Jazeera Arabic in the wake of the uprisings, the gendered sexuality of reporting Egypt, and journalism’s damning failure on Iraq. The first volume of its kind on this pressing topic, Mediating the Arab Uprisings is a primer for the curious reader, a pedagogical tool for media studies and communication, and a provocative collection for the seasoned scholar.

This initiative was supported by the Middle East Studies Program at George Mason University.”