Panelists: Timothy Mitchell, Omar El-Shafei and Heba Gowayed discuss the unfolding of the Egyptian revolution since the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.
Egyptians have remained determined to see the revolution to completion. They have returned to the streets, struck their workplaces, and risked their lives again and again in pursuit of freedom and social justice. In retaliation, the successor and offspring of the Mubarak regime -- the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) -- has used a combination of co-optation and repression, including trying civilians in military courts, beating, torturing, and murdering activists on the streets and in prison, and launching brutal misogynistic attacks on female protesters -- all paid for and with the diplomatic support of the US government.
This panel seeks to go beyond the mainstream media’s reporting of the revolution and conventional misconceptions and shed light on the underlying causes and current contours of the revolution. A look at the roots of inequality and exploitation, workers’ revolts, and the interaction with the millions in the squares of Cairo, Alexandria, Suez, Mahallah al-Kubra, and other cities.
What would winning the demands of “bread, peace, and social justice” mean for Egypt’s masses? What parallels can be drawn between Egypt's labor movement and the broader struggle of the 99% against the global 1%?
*Timothy Mitchell is a political theorist and historian, teaching at Columbia University since 2008. Prior to Columbia, Mitchell taught for twenty-five years at New York University. His areas of research include the place of colonialism in the making of modernity, the material and technical politics of the Middle East, and the role of economics and other forms of expert knowledge in the government of collective life. Mitchell has published a number of essays on agrarian transformation, economic reform, and the politics of development, mostly drawing on his continuing research in Egypt. Some of his works include: Colonising Egypt (1991), a study of power and knowledge that define the experience of modernity; and Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (2002), which draws on his examination of the making of “the economy” and “the market” as objects of twentieth-century politics, the relationship between law, private property, and violence in this process, and the problems with explaining contemporary politics in terms of globalization or the development of capitalism.
*Omar El-Shafei is an Egyptian leftist political activist, and independent researcher currently living in NYC. He is a doctoral candidate of International Law at Paris VII University in France. Omar is a founding member of the “Committee of Solidarity with the Struggle of the Egyptian People” in Paris, France, and author of “Workers, Trade Unions, and the State in Egypt, 1984-1989,” Cairo Papers in Social Science, American University in Cairo Press (Volume 18, Monograph 2, Summer 1995).
*Heba Gowayed is a researcher on poverty alleviation policy and gendered wellbeing in Egypt.She is currently pursuing her MA at Columbia University’s sociology department with a research focus on the social costs of privatization policies and the hindrances on access to education in Egypt.She comes to Columbia from the American University in Cairo where she worked as a researcher, and monitoring and evaluation officer on the Egyptian Conditional Cash Transfer Program, on a team advising the Ministry of Social Solidarity. Heba received her BA in political science and sociology from the American University in Cairo.