Chapter

The Dictatorship of the Straight Line and the Myth of Social Disorder Revisiting Informality in Cairo

Diane Singerman

in Cairo Contested

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162886
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970351 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5743/cairo/9789774162886.003.0008
The Dictatorship of the Straight Line and the Myth of Social Disorder Revisiting Informality in Cairo

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This chapter provides a discussion on the dictatorship of the straight line and the myth of social disorder in Cairo. It retraces first the ways the discourses of urban illegality articulate social disorders and question the foundations of existing discourses on urban order. It also describes the specific forms of regulation in neighborhoods with recent massive demographic shifts, drawing on the ethnographic research with families in an attempt to understand how the apparent modernization and globalization of Cairo has affected them. It draws a portrait of 'Atef and Umm Kawsar's newly created neighborhoods and explains how the communities establish their identities as they create a place where solidarities are forged not only among people of the same baladiyat (regional or village origins) but also across many social cleavages. Working-class communities in Cairo have confirmed that through grassroots planning and building, the city can be a shared, governable, and affordable space.

Keywords: social disorder; Cairo; dictatorship; modernization; globalization; 'Atef; Umm Kawsar; baladiyat; urban order; neighborhoods

Chapter.  13820 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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