Education and everyday politics: schools, the state and the uprising in Egypt

Hania Sobhy


This book, under contract with Cambridge University Press, investigates the transformations in the disciplinary and nation-building roles of schools in the context of disinvestment in education and increasing marketization, differentiation and inequality. It weds political economy and anthropology of education approaches to study the everyday production of lived citizenship through disciplinary practices as well as official discourses, rituals and practices. It uses this approach to study the official and lived projects of ‘schooling the nation’ in Egypt in the critical years before and after the 2011 uprising. Drawing on rare extensive research in schools with youth from different social classes and on analysis of school textbooks and nationalist rituals, it explores how schools reveal changing arrangements of power, legitimation and contestation. It dissects the gendered and classed constellations of violence, marketization and noncompliance that structure relations in schools. It maps the articulation of the critical years surrounding the 2011 Revolution in citizenship discourses and nationalist rituals in schools. As such, it addresses the idiosyncrasies of a ‘neoliberal’ project of citizenship and attempts at upgraded authoritarian legitimation as applied in the Egyptian case.  It makes three sets of claims. It argues that these transformations in schools reflect a mix of laxity, violence and marketization that I call ‘permissive-repressive neoliberalism’. It dissects the failures of nation building and the fragilities of regime legitimation that culminated in the uprising and feed into patterns of further repression and permissiveness. Finally, it reflects on the varieties of ‘degraded citizenship’ produced by schools under these patterns of governance and legitimation.

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