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Cairo CosmopolitanPolitics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East$
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Diane Singerman and Paul Amar

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9789774162893

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774162893.001.0001

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Mulids of Cairo

Mulids of Cairo

Sufi Guilds, Popular Celebrations, and the ‘roller-coaster Landscape’ of the Resignified City

(p.465) 17: Mulids of Cairo
Cairo Cosmopolitan

Anna Madoeuf

American University in Cairo Press

This chapter offers a reading of ways in which public space in Cairo is created, or at least expressively resignified, during the special circumstances created by festivals or mulids. These events constitute particular, circumscribed, holy space-time occurrences because they are at once popular festivals and devout pilgrimages. In search of possible ways to interpret the nature of public space, the chapter turns to Hannah Arendt's laconic but allusive definition of public space as “the appearance of potential space between acting and speaking people,” while specifying that in the context of these festivals, language is not only that of the word, but is also composed of gestures, attitudes, codes, and staging. In addition, these mulid spaces are characterized not only through dialog and contact, but also through the remixing of categories, social types, spatial codes, and norms. In this light, the chapter sifts what falls under “established religion” from what is considered “popular belief”.

Keywords:   public space, Cairo, mulids, festivals, pilgrimages, Hannah Arendt, language, mulid spaces, established religion, popular belief

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