EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 16 Dez 2020 | 17:00–18:30

Outcasts from Heaven: Dissenting Acts of Citizenship in an Egyptian Youth Movement

Fouad Halbouni (EUME Fellow 2020/21), Chair: Iskandar Abdalla (Freie Universität Berlin)

Inspired by their experiences in Tahrir square as a site of political possibility, the Mina Danyal movement (Haraket Mina Danyal), an Egyptian leftist youth movement, which emerged during the recent revolution in Egypt in 2011, attempted to open new possibilities for minority belonging for the Coptic community – by challenging a long tradition of assimilative nationalism on the one hand, and the Coptic orthodox church’s patrimonial authority over its religious subjects, on the other. In his talk, Fouad Halbouni explores how the youth movement made radical claims to citizenship in new forms of expression and repertoires of contention, which envisioned new solidarities between Muslims and Copts beyond the dictates of national assimilation. In protests, rallies and street battles that took place over the course of the revolution, the activists performed dissenting acts of citizenship – deeds that not only went beyond perceiving citizenship as a pregiven set of rights and obligations, but demanded answerability and radical justice from the state, redefining and reimagining in the process notions such as rights, belonging and even nation as a homeland-to-come, a place to be made and claimed. A decade later, this talk examines the activists’ revisitations of the political limits and possibilities of such radical claims of citizenship in hindsight, their different interpretations of citizenship as a postcolonial legacy of the Egyptian nationalist movement (their different criticisms of this legacy, its paradoxes and its shortcomings in their view), and lastly, their own internal debates over articulating communal grievances of Copts at the time. 

Fouad Halbouni received his PhD in cultural anthropology from Johns Hopkins University with a dissertation titled “Between Promise and Disappointment: Coptic Youth Movements and the Sectarian Question After the Egyptian Revolution”. His current research shifts the registers of his work from examining the diverse forms of contentious politics practiced by Coptic activists during the Egyptian revolution towards exploring the afterlives of Coptic activists in the form of self-critical accounts in which they revisit their own moral-political stakes in the revolutionary events and reflect on what remains of such stakes in the present moment. Fouad Halbouni is a EUME Fellow in the academic year 2020/21. 

In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually via ZOOM. Please register in advance via eume(at) to receive the login details. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on SoundCloud.

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