Since 2011, Egypt has undergone such profound changes that parts of the physical landscape are unrecognizable to visitors who have not seen the country since before the uprising. Politically, economically, and culturally, boundaries have shifted. The urban landscape has changed, sometimes dramatically: in downtown Cairo alone, new landmarks have sprung up, for example in Tahrir Square, now anchored by an obelisk that refers to a past far more ancient and pervasive than that of the uprising. Elements that were part of the background have taken center stage, while features Egyptians took for granted seem never to have existed. Despite these far-reaching transformations, the past weighs heavy on the regime and the population alike, shaping horizons of possibility and limiting what may be articulated in word or deed. How, then, has heritage been imagined and produced in Egypt since 2011? In what ways has the regime co-opted the past to project itself into the future? What alternative visions of the past exist, and how have they been articulated?
Pascale Ghazaleh is chair and Associate Professor of History at the American University in Cairo, specializing in Ottoman history and 19th century Egypt. She received her PhD in History from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. Ghazaleh was a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in 2017/18, and returned in 2019 as a EUME-FU Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation.
Banu Karaca works at the intersection of political anthropology and critical theory, art, aesthetics, and cultural policy, museum and feminist memory studies.She is the author of The National Frame: Art and State Violence in Turkey and Germany (Fordham University Press, 2021), and co-editor of Women Mobilizing Memory (Columbia University Press, 2019). She has published on freedom of expression in the arts, the visualization of gendered memories of war and political violence, visual literacy, and restitution. At the Forum Transregionale Studien, she directs the research group "Beyond Restitution: Heritage, (Dis)Possession and the Politics of Knowledge (BEYONDREST)” supported by a Consolidator Grant of the European Research Council.
This seminar was part of the conversation series Restitution and its Vantage Points: Beyond the Preservation Paradigm of the BEYONDREST Research Group.