Alexandria and the Mobilisation of the Public Imagination
In this book project, Amro Ali explores the repositioning of Egypt’s social geography, post-revolutionary developments, and political trajectory away from Cairo, and towards Alexandria, that can enhance our understanding of the sudden flourishing and eventual “diminishing” of public life. The project employs the works of Hannah Arendt, Václav Havel, and Byung-Chul Han to understand the relationship between the human condition, memory, and a second city over the past number of decades. It asks two main questions: What does it mean when citizens are forced to live in the shadow of, real or imagined, ancestral giants and golden ages? How does a “fallen” and second city shape the worldview and insecurities of its residents? These questions bear relation to inherent themes in contemporary Alexandria that are further examined which include political branding by elites, role of mobs and publics, 2011 revolutionary discourse, notions of civic utopia, post-2011 violence, and allusions to the coming apocalypse of the polis.