Genealogies of the Concept of Karama (dignity) in Egypt, from Independence to the Arab Uprisings

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 12:30
Oral Presentation
Zaynab EL BERNOUSSI, Al Akhawayn University, Morocco
The concept of karama in the Arab world has gone through several phases of semantic change. Karama means now dignity, and the concept was crucial in the Arab uprisings as a cry for social justice and as an expression of moral outrage. In this paper, I will trace, selectively, paths of semantic change of the concept of karama from the post-independence era in the 1950s, with nationalist agendas of self-determination, to the Arab uprisings starting in late 2010, with increased demands for human rights. The point is to investigate how the concept has been described by local authors, and the implications of possibly enduring ancient meanings of karama as they confront current meanings of the concept. This helps understand the multiplicity of meanings of karama witnessed during the Arab uprisings in Egypt, as a case study. I will argue that one major trend is a departure from a collective meaning of karama to an individual one, in the context of globalizing societies and identity crises.