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Informal Cairo : between Islamist insurgency and the neglectful state?

Dorman, W. J. (2009) 'Informal Cairo : between Islamist insurgency and the neglectful state?', Security dialogue., 40 (4-5). pp. 419-441.


From the late 1980s, Islamist militants established a ‘state within the state’ in the Egyptian capital Cairo, situated in ‘informal’ neighbourhoods developed without official authorization, planning or public services. After government security forces in late 1992 crushed these efforts in the neighbourhood of Munira Gharbiyya, informal Cairo became pathologized in public discourse as ashwa’iyyat (‘random’ or ‘haphazard’ areas), a zone of socio-spatial disorder threatening Egypt as a whole and demanding state intervention. However, this securitizing move did not lead to heavy-handed intervention against informal Cairo more generally. Following the suppression of the militants, the Mubarak government instead returned to long-term patterns of indifference and neglect that had allowed informal neighbourhoods to flourish since the 1960s. In part, the absence of intervention can be explained in terms of resource constraints and risk avoidance. More profoundly, however, it reflects numerous linkages between informal urbanization and the Egyptian state. The ashwa’iyyat are, to a significant degree, both a consequence of an authoritarian political order and embedded in the informal control stratagems used by Egyptian governments to bolster their rule. Informal Cairo should thus not be understood as a disorderly zone of subaltern dissidence. Rather, the Egyptian state is best seen as facing its own oblique reflection.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Islamist militants, Informal urbanization, Cairo, Egypt, Authoritarianism.
Full text:(SMUR) Submitted Manuscript Under Review
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Status:Not peer-reviewed
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Publisher statement:Dorman, W.J. (2009). Informal Cairo: Between Islamist Insurgency & the Neglectful State? Security Dialogue 40(4-5): 419-441. Copyright © The Author(s), 2009. Reprinted by permission of SAGE Publications.
Record Created:05 Oct 2009 16:05
Last Modified:06 Mar 2018 14:33

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