Extract from Diary Marginal Notes on the Soft Dialectics of Historic 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:
Extract from Diary Marginal Notes on the Soft Dialectics of Historic Cairo

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This chapter examines some of the paradoxes, turf battles, opaque government policies, and weak governance through the saga of one nineteenth-century building in al-Darb al-Ahmar, as one of its tenants tries to save the building from the owner's bureaucratic and legal strategy to demolish it and build a new commercial building in its place. It explains the formal history of Cairo. It also addresses the socioeconomic dimension and governance as a missing element. The tale of 5, al-Qirabiya is similar to other dramas that take place on a daily basis in thousands of other buildings in Cairo. Despite the conflict between planning and conservation practices and theories, where Historic Cairo was a battlefield for this conflict, these two concepts, despite their contradictions, agreed on one thing. Planning and conservation came to a silent agreement to ignore and neglect “ordinary” buildings along with their occupants, even though they constitute the urban fabric of the cities.

Keywords: Historic Cairo; al-Darb al-Ahmar; building; urban fabric; governance; government policies; planning; conservation

Chapter.  12245 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: International Relations

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