The Commodification of the <i>Ashwa′iyyat</i>: Urban Land, Housing Market Unification, and De Soto's Interventions in Egypt

Eric Denis

in Popular Housing and Urban Land Tenure in the Middle East

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9789774165405
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781617971358 | DOI:
The Commodification of the Ashwa′iyyat: Urban Land, Housing Market Unification, and De Soto's Interventions in Egypt

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This chapter reviews Hernando de Soto's work in Cairo on the legalization of illegal housing. It underlines how his lobbying of the highest authorities in the country helped develop the concept of the individualization of working-class property in favor of owners, rather than of occupiers/possessors. Far from regarding this program as having stopped short of its goals, it lists and makes connections between a series of reforms that have fundamentally changed land issues in informal neighborhoods. Land markets have thus been able to converge, benefiting the financial sector, which now has access to these legalized properties. The commodifcation of the registrated properties has meant neither empowerment nor a reduction in residents' poverty. The author thus demonstrates how economic reform programs are negotiated on a daily basis in unequal relationships. This set of reforms gave rise to strikes, which led to the proliferation of social and political movements that culminated in 2011.

Keywords: World Bank; liberal policies; illegal housing; land titling; properties commodification; social movement; Cairo

Chapter.  13063 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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