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Coptic Misfits & the Monday School: An Auto-Ethnography in Times of Hegemony

In this talk, anthropologist Mina Ibrahim will discuss his first book "Identity, Marginalisation, Activism, and Victimhood in Egypt: Misfits in the Coptic Christian Community". It is an auto-ethnography of negated spaces, practices, and relationships that have been intentionally or unintentionally dismissed from academic and non-academic studies, articles, reports, and policy papers that investigate and debate the experiences of Coptic Orthodox Christians in Egypt. By taking the Coptic identity and faith to bars, liquor stores, coffeehouses, weed gatherings, prisons, casinos, night clubs, brothels, dating applications, and porn sites, this book argues that airing out this “dirty laundry” points to the limits of victimhood and activist narratives that shape the representation of Coptic grievances and interests on both national and international levels. By introducing misfits who exist in the shadows of the well-studied Coptic rituals, traditions, miracles, saints’ apparitions, and street protests, the book highlights the contradiction between the centrality of sin to the (Coptic) Christian tradition and theology, on one hand, and on the other hand the dismissal of lives that are dominantly labelled as sinful while simultaneously studying Copts as agents or victims of history and in today’s Egyptian society.

Drawing on many years of fieldwork accompanied and preceded by periods the author spent as a student and a lay servant at the Sunday School service in the Coptic Orthodox Church, the author will particularly refer to the short experiment of the "Monday School" that later led to the foundation of the communal research hub Shubra's Archive. The fact that this book extends its arguments from “ethnographic confessions” collected from who deal with God on a daily basis since their childhood, Shubra's Archive situated projects and discussion similarly invites thinking how and why anthropological studies that invite God to their analysis must seriously take the complexity of meanings of hegemony. 


Mina Ibrahim is a postdoctoral research associate at the University of Marburg. He is also the project coordinator of the MENA Prison Forum (MPF) and the founder of SARD for History and Social Research (Shubra’s Archive).


The event will be hybrid.

Online registration to participate via zoom: Registration

This event is part of the lecture series:
Book Presentation Series 2023
New Releases at ZMO