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The Price of Love: Valentine’s Day in Egypt and Its Enemies – Concluding Part

By Aymon Kreil

Feb 14 2017

Sweet Talk Institutionalized

The women and men celebrating Valentine’s Day tend to blur its origins, insisting on the universality and beauty of love. None of my interviewees evoked religion as linked to the holiday, either positively or negatively. “If a holiday is beautiful, it doesn’t matter to me if it is of Indian, Chinese, or Western origin,” stated a woman wearing a headscarf in her forties from a rich southern Cairo family. Proponents of Valentine’s Day often understate the place of romance to legitimize the holiday. Although most of the press and literature evoking Valentine’s Day in Egypt focuses on lovers, many of my respondents stated that Valentine’s Day has an ancient history in Egypt.

 It is only the kind of gift that now differs, they argued. Today, teddy bears have replaced flowers, perfumes, and poems of generations past. Some invoked the ritual calendars on Pharaonic temples to claim Egyptians’ eternal love for celebrations. These claims contradicted the testimonies of older respondents, who dated the emergence of the holiday in Egypt to around the early 2000s, as mentioned above. Once, for instance, I saw parents contradict their astonished son, a hairdresser from a poor area, who had just asserted how ancient Valentine’s Day was in Egypt. The name of the celebration itself, the “international holiday of love” rather than the “Western holiday of love,” could be a way to counter nationalist arguments that the celebration does not belong to Egypt, as it makes it a common product of all countries.

All of my respondents, whether supporting or condemning Valentine’s Day, emphasized the event’s expressive aspects. It is a day during which you have to show your feelings to the beloved. Likewise, on Valentine’s Day, women’s and youth magazines dedicate special issues to definitions of love and romantic stories of celebrities and commoners alike. These depictions invariably underline the importance of expressing love on 14 February. Advertisers and journalists make great efforts to convince married people that the holiday concerns them, although most people see it as a celebration for lovers who have yet to marry. Advertisers and journalists portray Valentine’s Day as the opportunity to revive a love that daily worries consume. Hence, Valentine’s Day appears as a mode of institutionalizing sweet talk on a yearly basis.

An article by journalist Dina Munib in the Arabic-language women’s magazine Flash, specialized in covering social events, titled “The Holiday of Love Is for All Ages,” indicates the importance of compelling self-expression:

Days follow each other, years of daily life, and routine is permanent. Each of us has work duties, and they usually create a kind of routine that eventually dominates our lives. With a slight change in our life, however, we are able to break and overcome it. Happy occasions (Munasabat) are an important means of getting rid of this daily routine, and among the most important is the “holiday of love.” Some consider it a normal day and describe it as “superficial”—they are even ashamed of celebrating it. But isn’t it true that we often need love, that without love, we can’t live? Who among us doesn’t love?

There are different kinds of love. The holiday of love is not only for passionate lovers (‘ushaq), but can be meaningful for all ages, even those married for a long time. They need these occasions to revive sweet and beautiful feelings and move away from the daily routine with all its boredom, which erases everything, even feelings and a dreamy romanticism. Such an occasion revives love and hearts, increases happiness between husband and wife and makes life pleasurable, full of taste and colour. Thanks to it, married people and lovers are joyful together. Without this occasion, hearts don’t live and life never changes. It is a beautiful occasion for everyone!

The most beautiful thing is love!

And even more beautiful than love is to celebrate it! [xxvii]

This excerpt present love declarations as a way to revive marriage. This expressive dimension travels up and down the class ladder. One Valentine’s Day, I assisted at a wedding party in a poor middle-class Cairo Street. The couple chose the date on purpose. One of the invitees sent a kiss to her husband in front of all the people gathered. In response to someone’s surprised comment about this gesture, she answered energetically: “What’s the matter? Isn’t it Valentine’s Day? Why would I be dressed in red otherwise?” Here, too, the celebration is a happy occasion (Munasaba) to foster love among married couples through explicit signs of affection, such as letters, gifts, sweet words, or a dress code.

Many challenge the exhortation to vocalize feelings at regular intervals, however. Some respondents, mostly older ones, saw these contemporary expressions of love as superficial chitchat. For them, true love only begins through harmonious cohabitation resulting from marriage. It is not surprising that these opinions were most common among older, married informants. They often considered everything preceding marriage as sexual “appetite” (Shahwa) or ephemeral “appeal” (i‘jab). Evoking Valentine’s Day, a researcher in his forties explained to me that: “Today, it’s [sounds of kisses] all the time, and [the young man] doesn’t love her, not at all!” In previous times, the man added, people loved each other but never uttered the phrase, “I love you.” These debates about the right way to express love lead to questioning Valentine’s Day’s salience by exploring how love is linked to marriage, class, and progress.

True Love and Impossible Love

Samuli Schielke points to the influences of Western stances, as well as Indian and Turkish films, as inspirations for Egyptians’ conception of “virginal love” (hubb ‘udhri), a love impossible to consummate. The very fact that it is an unreachable ideal defines true love. Its impossibility becomes a crucial part of the evidence of its strength. This ideal, in return, makes realistic adjustment difficult when it comes to stabilizing coupled life on a daily basis.[xxviii] Schielke’s approach hints at the complex genealogy of conceptions of love and is particularly relevant to describing the stances of unmarried lovers, both men and women. Many people take an opposite stance, however, and explicitly oppose true love to impossible relationships, with marriage seen as the necessary condition of love. In both cases, the marriage is a stepping stone.

Hence, there is on one side an ideal of true love built against marriage, an impossible but inescapable passion (‘Ishq). Marriage, most of the time, puts an abrupt end to it. Sometimes parents do not consider partners as well suited for each other because of finances or social conventions. Sometimes feelings die out under the pressure of family responsibilities. True love goes along with a constant verbalizing of feelings.

On the opposite side, some see true love as the silent bond produced by daily interaction, mutual knowledge, and tenderness. In this conception, feelings prior to marriage are just transient expressions of lust, the ephemeral “appetite” and “appeal” mentioned above. Consequently, true love (‘ishra) is equated with the only possible love. Contrary to the passionate model that emphasizes the constant reasserting of love through verbalizing affects, this version of true love can only flourish in a complicit silence full of implicit understanding.

Of course, this opposition does not reflect behaviour, which cannot fit such a simplistic dichotomy. The dichotomy reflects another common opposition in Egypt: “love marriage” (Zawaj Hubb) as opposed to “traditional marriage” (Zawaj Taqlidi). In the first kind of union, lovers marry regardless of their parents’ opinion. In the second union, the partners are not in a relationship before marriage, and parents play a decisive role in their choice.[xxix] It is easy to grasp the alternative modes of partner choice between passionate love, on the one hand, and silent love, on the other. In the first, no outside person should intervene in the partners’ mutual choice, as their bond originates in a feeling that resists all worldly pressures. This love benefits from the spaces of transgression offered by urban anonymity and the Internet. In the second model, parents can heavily influence the partners’ choice, as true love grows only after the wedding. Accordingly, some consider feelings predating marriage as dangerous for true love.

This opposition between different kinds of love and marriage are ideal types along a continuum. Most unions take place somewhere in between a marriage against the parents’ will and one in disregard of the future partners’ preferences. [xxx] In Egypt, the arranged-cum-love marriage is common. Partners already involved in a romantic relationship often receive approval for their marriage from their parents. In other cases, after a formal first encounter at the house of the future bride’s parents, mutual feelings of attachment develop during the engagement. The intermediary periods between engagement (Khutuba), the signing of the marriage contract at the mosque (Katb Al-Kitab), and the public wedding are often long, due to financial reasons. People generally consider the time following engagement as the most appropriate period for expressing romantic feelings. At the same time, this period is at a particularly dangerous moment. Couples need monitoring, as they could be tempted to have sex together, which would be unacceptable before the public wedding.

For most Egyptians, a stable marriage requires the spouses’ relative equality in status. Status can include the social origins of the family, as well as the family’s access to money, valued job positions, housing, furniture, and commodities.[xxxi] The need for status makes marriage a costly endeavor, as most parents fear a mismatch and set high conditions for possible partners of their children. Expensive weddings are another financial hurdle before marriage. Long negotiations often ensue, where parents discuss each family’s share in the costs. To marry without their help is almost an impossible task. Diane Singerman and Barbara Ibrahim consider marriage as the major moment of intergenerational transfer of wealth, especially for women.[xxxii] Respectability and physical appearance also play important roles when one is choosing a partner.[xxxiii] One of the results of Valentine’s Day’s salience is that romantic style becomes part of a class habitus and consequently a bargaining chip in determining status.

Love and Status

The opposition between “love marriage” and “traditional marriage” sheds lights on some of the issues at stake in the determination of status. There is a deep ambivalence about “tradition.” Some see it as a source of “backwardness” (Takhalluf) and others as a source of “authenticity” (Asala). Likewise, some consider change as “progress” (taqaddum) while other perceive change as endangering “habits and customs” (al-‘Adat wa-l-Taqalid). The mainstream reformist agenda combines national and religious “authenticity” with “progress” through a complex process of selection.[xxxiv]

The public discourse in Egypt portrays the middle class as able to reform the country without betraying its authenticity. This class, it appears, is free of the corruption and Westernization of the rich as well as unburdened by the ignorance of the poor. Educational capital and commitment to the reformist project appear as key features of middle-class belonging.[xxxv] Most of those who work in charities claim to belong to the middle class, for instance. They often depict their mission as educating the poor, reaffirming the value they assign to educational capital.[xxxvi]

Love modernism is also a feature of the middle class. The linking of romanticism and education was a recurrent feature of discussions with most of my respondents, regardless of their background. In this regard, love modernism appears as the opposite of sexual harassment, an issue that has shaken debates in Egypt since 2006, if not earlier.[xxxvii] Indeed, the dominant discourse in the country attributes sexual harassment to the substandard education of denizens of poor neighbourhoods, even if the practice is far from confined to these social strata. This categorizing along class lines does not reflect individual demeanours but marks imaginary positions on the country’s social scale. The mastering of romantic codes is one example, and love behaviours appear as an important feature of distinction in Egyptian visions of the class order.[xxxviii]

The middle class (al-tabaqa al-wusta) is itself an imprecise category. It does not describe a well-defined socioeconomic stratum, but rather constitutes what Luc Boltanski calls a “weak aggregate.”[xxxix] According to Boltanski, the cohesion of weak aggregates rests on representation, both in the theatrical and political sense of the word. Being middle-class involves a stereotypical way of living. At the same time, different sectors of the political field compete to represent the middle class, as its position in the “middle” (Wasat) allows claims of social centrality[xl] and makes the “middle class” the core bearer of Egyptian modernism.

Love modernism means expressing one’s feelings and obtaining emotional fulfilment within the institution of marriage. In a religious framework, many sheikhs emphasize the need to talk sweetly with one’s wife and the importance of the couple as a place of intimacy. As mentioned before, some support Valentine’s Day in the name of love. In a nationalist framework, romanticism helps to emphasize Egyptian superiority vis-à-vis Arab Gulf countries, which people often describe as backward and repressive, as well as Western countries, which they describe as having lost sight of all restraint in values and practices. Hence, migrants coming back from these regions are often accused of bringing in “un-Egyptian” family behaviours into the country.[xli]

In this regard, romanticism and its correlate, the mastering of proper ways to express feelings with gentleness, are tools of distinction. This process is reminiscent of Pierre Bourdieu’s more general analysis of ways of talking as social classifiers of the people using them. In Bourdieu’s view, this hierarchy is shared even among speakers unable to express themselves in a refined style. Hence, social codes push them to acknowledge their deficiency.[xlii]

Through the spread of formal education since the 1950s, an increasing number of Egyptians have become able to identify themselves as part of the “middle class.” As educational facilities at high schools and universities are a major place for romance, love expectations linked to the middle class are more viable. This configuration carries specific models of masculinity related to love modernism. The gentleness of the educated contrasts with the rougher style of manhood attributed to lower-class areas, with a direct impact on love projects.[xliii] Romanticism thus becomes an issue of status and a part of the bargain around marriage evoked above.

With its celebration of romantic love, Valentine’s Day is a possible aspirational track for class mobility. The fact that so many inscriptions on Valentine’s Day commodities are in English, for instance, indicates a strong correlation between the celebration of the holiday and access to “cosmopolitan capital,” which Anouk de Koning describes as “those forms of cultural capital that are marked by familiarity with and mastering of globally dominant cultural codes.”[xliv] Currently, English is an important part of this cosmopolitan capital. The correlation even appears in slogans opposing the celebration. One Facebook image that makes the rounds on 14 February features a hand gesturing refusal with the caption: “Sorry Valentine’s Day, I am Muslim.” Likewise, the Muslim Brotherhood student group, discussed above, that proposed a counter-holiday called it “Muhammad Day” in English. As an international event, Valentine’s Day thus becomes a valued sign of modernity and urban belonging.

An interlocutor claimed to enjoy the holiday without fear because he lives in a city. He despised the inhabitants of Upper Egypt, who according to him would not allow for such an event. Hs position opposed other interlocutors who valorized maintaining the tradition that they attributed to the inhabitants of the country’s south. Thus, the appeal of cosmopolitanism is not the only track of aspiration for the middle class. Some defend love modernism while loudly resisting models they see as Western, such as Valentine’s Day. Criticism of the celebration also largely originates from people claiming to belong to the middle class. Furthermore, in a country where so many families get by on very limited resources, romantic aspirations often run up against other major requirements in a good partner, especially decent work and sufficient capital.

No Money, No Honey: The Economic Limits of Romanticism

Valentine’s Day appears as an incentive to talk, in accordance with an image of the modern subject as an individual authentic to himself. The constant expression of feelings is the best means of attaining authenticity. Love gets its own kind of agency, reflecting individuals’ inner truths. Such possible signs of a growing individualization face structural constraints, however, especially given the family’s importance in validating a person’s choice of partner.

The high price of marriage, as already mentioned, makes it almost impossible for couples to marry without parents’ financial help. These conditions mean that many young people come to cling to realism and abandon ideas of romantic involvement that survives against the will of their families. This kind of realism gives a hint at the strength of kinship institutions in a country with a very weak system of social insurance, and where the family remains the core of solidarity networks.

These structural constraints partly explain why people attribute the celebration of Valentine’s Day to a youthful indulgence in romanticism. Models of romantic love have a long history in Egypt. Hence, the intergenerational tensions around status considerations in the choice of conjugal partner reflect a constant redistribution of age roles rather than a linear change in conceptions of marriage.

Can it be said that there is a gap between ideals and pragmatic norms here? The issue is more complicated and better explained by the importance of common-sense definitions of what collective practices are in the very process of shaping majority values. This self-relational character of common practice is especially relevant when people relate it to identity. The very fact that silent love after marriage appears as a majority practice can serve to legitimize it as a norm.

Thus, following Illouz, romanticism bears hidden privileges. Affordable commodities have done a lot for the success of Valentine’s Day today. The event has become an ‘id, a celebration eliciting expectations from partners, as an accountant in his forties coming from a popular area put it once. The same man added that he himself does not celebrate it because he is already married. Even if married people sometimes celebrate it, Valentine’s Day still does not seem to have shaken the ways in which people get married. Hence, it appears clear that economic constraints as much as cultural conceptions are central to understanding how people in Egypt refer to love—and romantic love, in particular.

Luc Boltanski, in a recent work, describes what he calls “the reality of reality” as the capacity of given settings to impose themselves as obvious to agents. These agents, in turn, impose restrictions on themselves, adjusting their expectations to the limits they consider realistic.[xlv] By this very logic, financial constraints on marriage appear to tame romantic aspirations, which nevertheless remain part of the love imaginations of many Egyptians. Young people, still hoping to attain ideals of romantic love, clash with older people who have felt it necessary at some point to adjust to the constraints of what they perceive as reality. But the power of desire should not be underestimated, shaping aspirations, opening side routes for individual experience, and sometimes corroding the most established evidence.[xlvi] By connecting love to transnational imaginations, Valentine’s Day and its yearly institutionalization of sweet talk offers new paths to the experience and disciplining of intimate aspirations around romantic consumption.

[Republished with permission: Aymon Kreil, "The Price of Love: Valentine's Day in Egypt and Its Enemies," Arab Studies Journal XXIV, no. 2 (Fall 2016), 128-147. © All rights reserved.]

[i] My translation.

[ii] On family politics during this period, see Omnia S. El Shakry, The Great Social Laboratory: Subjects of Knowledge in Colonial and Postcolonial Egypt (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2007), 213-18; Laura Bier, Revolutionary Womanhood: Feminisms, Modernity, and the State in Egypt (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2011).

[iii] For other examples of the linking of love and modernity, see Holly Wardlow and Jennifer S. Hirsch, Modern Loves: The Anthropology of Romantic Courtship and Companionate Marriage (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006).

[iv] For macro-statistics on marriage in Egypt, see Philippe Fargues, Générations arabes: L’alchimie du nombre (Paris: Fayard, 2000); Diane Singerman, “The Economic Imperatives of Marriage: Emerging Practices and Identities Among Youth in the Middle East,” in The Middle East Youth Initiative Working Papers (Washington, DC: Middle East Youth Initiative, 2007); “Marriage and Divorce in Egypt: Financial Costs and Political Struggles,” in Les Métamorphoses Du Mariage Au Moyen-Orient, ed. Barbara Drieskens (Damascus: Presses de l’IFPO, 2008).

[v] Leigh Schmidt, “The Fashioning of a Modern Holiday: St. Valentine’s Day, 1840-1870,” Winterthur Portfolio, 28, no. 4 (1993), 209-45.

[vi] Millie Creighton, “Sweet Love’ and Women’s Place: Valentine’s Day, Japan Style,” Journal of Popular Culture, 27, no. 3 (1993), 1-20.

[vii] Astrid Bochow, “Valentine’s Day in Ghana: Youth, Sex, and Fear Between Generations,” in Generations in Africa: Connections and Conflicts, ed. Erdmute Alber, Sjaak van der Geest and Susan Whyte (Hamburg: Lit, 2008), 418-29; Roberta Zavoretti, “Be My Valentine: Bouquets, Marriage, and Middle-Class Hegemony in Urban China,” Working Papers 150 (Halle/Saale: Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, 2013).

[viii] Mark B. Padilla et al., Love and Globalization: Transformations of Intimacy in the Contemporary World (Nashville, TN: Vanderbilt University Press, 2008).

[ix] Jennifer Cole and Lynn M. Thomas, Love in Africa (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2009), 15-16.

[x] Andras Hamori, “Love Poetry (Ghazal),” in ‘Abbasid Belles-Lettres, eds. Julia Ashtiany, et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); Michael Sells, “Love,” in The Literature of Al-Andalus, eds. María Rosa Menocal, Raymon Scheindlin, and Michael Sells (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000); Fédéric Lagrange, Islam d’interdits, Islam de jouissance (Paris: Téraèdre, 2008), 185-97; William Chittick, “Love in Islamic Thought,” Religion Compass 8, no. 7 (2014).

[xi] El Shakry, The Great Social Laboratory; Hanan Kholoussy, For Better, For Worse: The Marriage Crisis That Made Modern Egypt (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010); Kenneth M. Cuno, Modernizing Marriage: Family, Ideology, and Law in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Egypt (New York: Syracuse University Press, 2015).

[xii] Lucie Ryzova, The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014).

[xiii] Elena Aoun and Thierry Kellner, “La pénétration chinoise au Moyen-Orient: Le cas des relations sino-égyptiennes,” Monde chinois 44, no. 4 (2015).

[xiv] Lila Abu-Lughod, Dramas of Nationhood: The Politics of Television in Egypt (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), 47-51, 220-23.

[xv] Lisa B. Rofel, Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007); Judith Stacy, Unhitched: Love, Marriage, and Family Values from West Hollywood to Western China (New York: New York University Press, 2011); Jean-Baptiste Pettier, “The Affective Scope: Entering China’s Urban Moral and Economic World Through Its Emotional Disturbances,” Anthropology of Consciousness 27, no. 1 (2016).

[xvi] Eva Illouz, Consuming the Romantic Utopia: Love and the Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997); Eva Illouz, Les sentiments du capitalisme (Paris: Seuil, 2006).

[xvii] Samuli Schielke, “Second Thoughts About the Anthropology of Islam,” ZMO Working Papers 2 (2010); Farha Ghannam, Live and Die Like a Man: Gender Dynamics in Urban Egypt (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013), 63-64.

[xviii] The fieldwork involved interviews and observations about coffee shop conversations, Valentine’s Day, and sexual harassment, as well as in-depth research at a counseling center. My respondents on the topic of Valentine’s Day were of all backgrounds and generations, with a focus on men visiting coffee shops in the neighborhoods of ‘Abdin and Sayyida Zaynab, upper-class women in Helwan, and vendors of items linked to the holiday in the areas of ‘Abdin and Heliopolis. I was able to conduct the fieldwork thanks to a grant from the Centre d’études et de documentation économiques, juridiques et sociales (CEDEJ).

[xix] Shereen El-Feki, Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World (New York: Pantheon Books, 2013).

[xx] Mustafa Amin (1914-1997) is a famous Egyptian journalist. His twin brother ‘Ali Amin (1914-1976), also a journalist, created the Egyptian Mother’s Day.

[xxi] Mustafa Amin, 100 fikra wa fikra (Cairo: Akhbar al-Yawm, 1989), 88-89, 94-95, 126-27, 175-76. This book gathers Amin’s chronicles. Though they are undated, a study of their content shows that all described events happened between 1978 and the start of 1979. Further, the “holiday of love” is announced as “Saturday, the fourth of November”—and in 1978, this date was indeed a Saturday.

[xxii] Unfortunately, I lack evidence for the cities of Upper Egypt, as I was unable to conduct fieldwork around the topic in this region.

[xxiii] The Coptic Christmas is on 7 January. On the marketization of Muslim holiday, see Walter Armbrust, “The Riddle of Ramadan: Media, Consumer Culture, and the ‘Christamtization’ of a Muslim Holiday,” in Everyday Life in the Muslim Middle East, eds. Donna Lee Bowen and Evelyn A. Early (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2002).

[xxiv] Salwa Ismail, “Piety, Profit, and the Market in Cairo: A Political Economy of Islamisation,” Contemporary Islam 7, no. 1 (2013).

[xxv] On stereotypes about the inhabitants of Upper Egypt, see Fançois Ireton, “Les quatre relations d’incertitude d’un construit identitaire collectif à référence territoriale: l’exemple des Sa‘idis,” in Valeurs et distance: Identités et sociétiés en Egypte, ed. Christian Décobert (Paris: Maisonneuve et Larose, 2000), 319-61.

[xxvi] English original.

[xxvii] My translation.

[xxviii] Samuli Schielke, Egypt in the Future Tense: Hope, Frustration, and Ambivalence Before and After 2011 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015), 83-104.

[xxix] It is also called “living room marriage (zawaj salunat)” because the future partners meet for the first time in the living room of the apartment of the bride in the presence of her parents.

[xxx] Robert Springborg, Family, Power, and Politics in Egypt: Sayid Bey Marei--His Clan, Clients, and Cohorts (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982), 29-30.

[xxxi] Samuli Schielke, “Living in the Future Tense: Aspiring for World and Class in Provincial Egypt,” in The Global Middle Class: Theorizing through Ethnography, ed. Carla Freeman, Rachel Heiman, and Mark Liechty (Santa Fe, NM: School for Advanced Research), 31-56.

[xxxii] Diane Singerman and Barbara Ibrahim, “The Costs of Marriage in Egypt: A Hidden Dimension in the New Arab Demography,” Cairo Papers in Social Sciences, 24, no. 1-2 (2001), 80-116; Diane Singerman, “Marriage and Divorce in Egypt: Financial Costs and Political Struggles.”

[xxxiii] Andrea Rugh, Family in Contemporary Egypt (Cairo: American University of Cairo Press, 1988), 121-47.

[xxxiv] Lila Abu-Lughod, “The Marriage of Feminism and Islamism in Egypt: Selective Repudiation as a Dynamic of Postcolonial Cultural Politics,” in Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, ed. Lila Abu-Lughod (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1998), 243-69.

[xxxv] Walter Armbrust, “Bourgeois Leisure and Egyptian Media Fantasies,” in New Media and the Muslim World: The Emerging Public Sphere, eds. Dale Eickelman and Jon Anderson (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1999), 106-32; Assia Boutaleb et al., “Dire les classes moyennes: Quand des citoyens égyptiens en parlent,” Carnets de Bord 10 (2005).

[xxxvi] Janine Clark, Islam, Charity, and Activism: Middle-Class Networks and Social Welfare in Egypt, Jordan, and Yemen (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004); Aymon Kreil, “Science de la psyché et autorité de l’islam: Quelles Conciliations?” Archives de sciences sociales des religions 170 (2015).

[xxxvii] Paul Amar, “Turning the Gendered Politics of the Security State Inside Out?” International Feminist Journal of Politics 13, no. 3 (2011); Perrine Lachenal, “Beauty, the Beast, and the Baseball Bat: Ethnography of Self-Defense Training for Upper-Class Women in Revolutionary Cairo (Egypt),” Comparative Sociology 13, no. 1 (2014); Aymon Kreil, “Dire le harcèlement sexuel en Égypte: Les aléas de traduction d’une catégorie juridique,” Critique Internationale 70 (2016).

[xxxviii] Aymon Kreil, “ Love Scales: Class and Expression of Feelings in Cairo,” La Ricerca Folklorika 69 (2014).

[xxxix] Luc Boltanski, The Making of a Class: Cadres in French Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 291.

[xl] Assia Boutaleb et al., “Dire les classes moyennes,” 24-45.

[xli] Lucile Gruntz and Delphine Pagès-El Karoui, “Migration and Family Change in Egypt: A Comparative Approach to Social Remittances,” Migration Letters, 10, no. 1 (2013), 71-79.

[xlii] Pierre Bourdieu, Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Polity Press, 1991), 54.

[xliii] In this regard, it is reminiscent of Bourdieu’s depictions of the difficulties in finding a wife endured by men who grew up in a rural environment because of their lower-class background (Pierre Bourdieu, Le bal des célibataires: Crise de la société paysanne en Béarn (Paris: Seuil, 2002). See also Ghannam, Live and Die Like a Man, 59-84.

[xliv] Anouk de Koning, Global Dreams: Class, Gender, and Public Space in Cosmopolitan Cairo (Cairo: American University of Cairo Press, 2009), 9.

[xlv] Luc Boltanski, On Critique: A Sociology of Emancipation (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2011), 33-37.

[xlvi] Aymon Kreil, “Territories of Desire: A Geography of Competing Intimacies in Cairo,” Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies 12, no. 2 (2016).



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