From Hara to Midam: Public Spaces of Youth in Cairo

Wednesday, July 16, 2014: 4:45 PM
Room: F205
Oral Presentation
Jose SANCHEZ GARCIA , Geography and Sociology, University of Lleida, Lleida, Spain
After the revolutionary events it is possible to appreciate a transformation in the uses of public space in downtown Cairo. That it is no longer surprising to see in public walls –even those of Cairo’s administrative Mogamma building or Supreme Court– political graffiti represented this transformation, and convert the public space both as a site and instrument of revolutionary struggle. This transformation takes place against the backdrop of urban planning that sought to limit the availability of open spaces in which citizens might congregate, and the development of gated communities for the wealthy that, along with exclusive parks, constitute a privatisation of space. During last years, often these globalized spaces are remade by creating local and regional ties and design features that were not anticipated by the planners. The appropiation of public space –squares and streets–by youth groups for different uses that which it was conceived and planificated, have become in physical manifestations of a different Egypt. This different Egypt had roots in the understanding, production and living experience of public space of the traditional cairennes hara and ashabiyat –informal neighborghoods- where, also, the young people even has a significant role. Their living experience or urban space in the quarter permitts to transform the public in a comunal space in the cosmopolitan areas that they transit. In this paper, I try to present the different manners of living both, the cosmopolitan and traditional urban spaces by youth groups.