Schooling the nation: education and everyday politics in Egypt

Hania Sobhy

Telling the story of the Egyptian uprising through the lens of education, Hania Sobhy explores the everyday realities of citizens in the years before and after the so-called 'Arab Spring'. With vivid narratives from students and staff from Egyptian schools, Sobhy offers novel insights on the years that led to and followed the unrest of 2011. Drawing a holistic portrait of education in Egypt, she reveals the constellations of violence, neglect and marketization that pervaded schools, and shows how young people negotiated the state and national belonging. By approaching schools as key disciplinary and nation-building institutions, this book outlines the various ways in which citizenship was produced, lived, and imagined during those critical years. This title is also available (December 2022) as Open Access on Cambridge Core.


‘This is a fascinating and ground-breaking book. With verve and rigor, Hania Sobhy shows how the impoverished financial and managerial conditions of the education sector in Egypt have made it totally inept. Instead, young Egyptians in school learn a mix of unenforced rules that breed cynicism and corruption, and pervasive violence through which money, class, and male power rules.’

Ishac Diwan - École Normale Supérieure and Paris Sciences and Lettres

‘Set at the cusp of the late-Mubarek and Arab uprisings period, this immersive, richly documented ethnography of schooling takes us to the heart of everyday governance in Egypt. It reveals the workings of lived citizenship under ‘permissive-repressive neoliberalism’ and how everyday repression and violence are mediated by class and gender. A must-read for students of Middle Eastern studies, political sociology and comparative education at all levels.’

Deniz Kandiyoti - SOAS University of London

‘In this closely observed and theoretically rich ethnography, Hania Sobhy has done something remarkable: presented us with a detailed, honest, and often tragic portrait of student experience in half a dozen Egyptian secondary schools. Describing the combination of everyday violence and neglect that shapes students’ experiences, she outlines the increasingly degraded forms of citizenship available to the youth of the region.’

Gregory Starrett - University of North Carolina at Charlotte



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