Current Institutional Affiliation

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2010
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Area and Cultural Studies, New York University (NYU)
Building Egypt: City and Nation Building Between Architectural Modernity and the Politics of Transition, 1936-1967

How did the urban poor figure into official plans and discourse on the transformation of Cairo after the 1952 revolution? On a general level, my dissertation project seeks to provide a cultural history of modern Egyptian architecture, its role in the formation of a national identity during the Nasserist regime. More specifically, this dissertation project will highlight the tension between official actors’ plans for reshaping Cairo and the ways in which the city is transformed in less official means by its residents. The primary source for this study is “the archive of royal and public buildings authority of Egypt,” a recently uncovered collection that has not been studied previously. The object of this dissertation is: (1) to construct a cultural history of Egyptian architectural and urban national self-fashioning by studying and documenting state-commissioned buildings during the building boom at the dawn of the republic, (2) provide new information on this critical chapter in Cairo’s urban history which links the two extreme realities present in available scholarship on the city, a quasi-colonial centralized city of the past and the mismanaged collection of slums and informal settlements in the present, (3) to engage existing scholarship on postcolonial cities which largely deals with the ways in which postcolonial states position themselves in relation to the colonial past by reinventing their capitals. By analyzing never before studied plans and building documents with elite, nationalist and professional discourses on the role of the modern city in building a modern Egypt, this project will provide new information about a missing chapter in the history of the development of Cairo. This project will also demonstrate that the relationship between colonial and postcolonial city building programs is not as clearly defined and distinct as existing scholarship on the postcolonial city suggests.