Current Institutional Affiliation
Professor, Department for the Study of Religion and Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2002
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, Columbia University
A Poetics of the Imagination: Dreams and Dream Interpretation in Contemporary Egypt

My research examines the realm of dreams, dream narratives, and dream interpretation in contemporary Egypt drawing on an emerging anthropology of imagination. I will analyze the social structure of dream interpretation ("expert" and lay interpreters; "traditional" and psychoanalytic approaches); the hermeneutic and semiotic strategies employed in the process of dream interpretation; and the genealogies of the Islamic and psychoanalytic texts and practices informing this process. My fieldwork will focus on various locations in Cairo (saints' shrines; Sufi orders; private practices of psychoanalysts; and one psychiatric hospital) and will consist of recording dream narratives and dream interpretations; discussing with my informants the nature, importance and meaning of dreams; and observing practices related to the incubation, telling and interpretation of dreams. My work is intended to offer new insights into the nature of modernity and subjectivity in Egypt and to simultaneously provide critical perspectives on Western psychoanalytic theory, anthropology and semiotics through an intensive engagement with alternative modes of apprehension and representation.