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Gerasimos Tsourapas is organising, together with Reem Abou-El-Fadl (SOAS) and Michael Farquhar (King’s College London) a closed workshop on "Rethinking Liberalisation under Sadat: Protest, Policing, and Regime Survival in 1970s Egypt”. 

Gerasimos Tsourapas is organising, together with Reem Abou-El-Fadl (SOAS) and Michael Farquhar (King’s College London) a closed workshop on "Rethinking Liberalisation under Sadat: Protest, Policing, and Regime Survival in 1970s Egypt”. 

The predominant theme in analyses of the presidency of Anwar al-Sadat has been that of liberalisation, with the focus tending to be on high politics and the iconoclasm of Sadat's state-led reforms. Scholars of Egyptian politics during the 1970-1981 period have examined a range of issues through this lens: economic liberalisation under the state-directed programme of infitah; the experiment with controlled political liberalisation and the ways in which this was bound up with the fostering of Islamist currents as a counterweight to the left; and the rapprochement with Israel and an increasingly intimate relationship with the capitalist powers of the Cold War era.

While these engagements have produced insights into the limits of liberalisation and the ways in which different parts of the state apparatus contended for power within this shifting order, this workshop aims to explore other facets that this frame conceals. It aims to attract scholars from Europe, North America and the Middle East with the goals of: attending to the ways in which subaltern constituencies understood, resisted and were otherwise impacted by the economic and political transformations of the Sadat era; exploring transnational drivers and ramifications of these transformations, as they played out through channels such as labour migration and protest networks; and considering oft-neglected connections between the economic and political restructuring of this period and shifts in such areas of social life as crime control, cultural production, gender relations and pious practice.

Besides allowing for a timely re-assessment of an era which was key to shaping the contemporary political landscape in Egypt, the workshop will provide for fresh critical engagement with broader debates on economic and political liberalisation across and beyond the Middle East.

The daylong event will take place at SOAS, University of London on 29 June 2018. It brings together a group of international scholars to discuss economic and political liberalisation across and beyond the Middle East. It is supported by the 2017 Conference Grant awarded by the Critical Middle East Studies Section of the British Society for Middle East Studies, and funds from the 2017 British Academy Small Grant Scheme.

  • Reem Abou-El-Fadl (SOAS)
  • Michael Farquhar (King’s College London)
  • Gerasimos Tsourapas (University of Birmingham)
  • Fiona Adamson (SOAS) 
  • Dominic Coldwell (Oxford)
  • Laure Guirguis (IREMAM-AMU, Aix-en-Provence)
  • Neil Ketchley (King’s College London) 
  • Dana Moss (University of Pittsburgh)
  • Sirada Khemanitthathai (SOAS)
  • Sherene Seikaly (UC Santa Barbara)