Manufacturing Stability: Class and Property Contestations in an Egyptian Steel Town
Lecture by Dina Makram-Ebeid (The American University in Cairo, Egypt)
In everyday discourse in Egypt, having stability (‘istiqrar) has come to mean various things: access to marriage, the making of a family, a steady income, a stable job and in specific cases, the ability to pass on tenured jobs to one’s offspring. Through ethnographic research in Helwan, an industrial city in the south of Cairo, the paper explores how new forms of property relations emerged under the conditions of late capitalism. It probes how tenured jobs in public factories acted as a potential property right that informed the contestation of class at the intersection of the different discourses of stability. The paper looks at the life trajectories of fathers and sons working side by side on the shopfloor of a steel plant and highlights how the aspirations for a good life through the preservation of family legacies became a claim for privilege consolidation that complicated class politics and gave the discourses of stability broader and more political meanings.
Dina Makram-Ebeid is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the American University in Cairo. Her research and teaching interests include class, work, gender and affective archives.
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