The Mobilisation of the Recent Past in Struggles for Contemporary Egyptian Identities

A new PhD project with Katrine Mandrup Bach, "Using the Past to Build the Future," studies how Egypt’s more recent past(s) are being mobilised to redefine Egyptian identities.

15.01.2018 | Mark Sedgwick

Since the revolution of 2011, numerous initiatives have been formed with the goal of preserving, documenting and sharing what Egypt’s more recent past has to offer. This project explores the most recent developments in the struggle for new Egyptian identities and ‘pasts’. It investigates how local Cairene initiatives have taken it upon themselves to tell new and different stories about what Egypt is today. Through ethnographic and museological engagement with a number of the initiatives, anthropologist Katrine Bach aims to investigate how selected features of the past are mobilised to challenge previous narratives, create new identities and promote community development in contemporary Egypt.

In hardly any other place is history more visible than Cairo. Here, people and monuments from many different ages live side by side, and the past makes for one of the country’s most defining features and biggest sources of income. Therefore, this project primarily takes place in Cairo, where Katrine Bach has already been working to get a better understanding of how and why Egypt’s more recent past(s) have become important today. The project thus endeavours to contribute to our knowledge of Egypt’s more contemporary heritage(s) and its importance in building a foundation for new potential futures.