07.12.2017 | 12:15 to 15:00

Workshop: Urban Transformations and Cultural Practices with Dr. Amal Abdrabo

"Urban Transformations and Cultural Practices - Letters to the Governor; Death, Mobility, and Claims of the City"

A Workshop with Dr. Amal Abdrabo (Alexandria University)

People tend to write letters so it can be read by others, so what about writing letters to dead people? Also, to convey a message, we need stillness to be able to read, which is something that cannot be done in motion, so how to read the brief messages on the back of mobile cars?

Based on Sayed Aweys's two books: Cries of the Silents: the phenomenon of writing on vehicle structures in modern Egyptian society & One of the features of modern Egyptian society; the phenomenon of sending messages to the shrine of Imam Shafi'i, the workshop will try to explore two field sites where people work on the creation of new participatory spaces. The first site is shrines where people go ask things to be done for them from dead people, writing letters to them that contain complaints against what is going on with them in life. The second space of participation is at the back of minibuses that are owned by citizens (bus drivers) and do not belong to the public transportation busses. Cars represent mobility, movement, and light, whereas Tombs and Shrines represent death,
serenity, silence, and humbleness. These two different sites in the city of Alexandria gives new perspectives regarding uncanny ways people claim a space within their city, where they can participate actively or at least express their complaints without being punished or detained. This could generate new theoretical perspectives and construct knowledge derived from exploring the temporal versus the permanent in regard to urban spaces and of the type of participatory activities in modern Egypt within the context of recent political, cultural, and social transformations taking place.

Date: Thursday, 7 December 2017

Time: 12.15-15.00

Venue: Seminar für Nahoststudien, Universität Basel, Room E 008 | Maiengasse 51, 4056 Basel

Further information: Flyer (pdf)


University of Basel
Centre for African Studies
Rheinsprung 21
CH-4051 Basel
Tel.: +41 (0)61 207 34 82