The anthropology of cinema has been instrumental in describing the ‘unseen’ labour invested in making films. What has been less explored is that, within the filmmaking process, workers erase each other’s concrete effort in a similar manner. This process is what I call ‘reification’. Extending Georg Lukács’ reflections, I argue that the relations of production in filmmaking seem to be transformed into relations between things (images and sounds) in a recurring pattern throughout the filmmaking process. This transformation impacts every juncture in commercial film production in Egypt, and film workers manage its continuous impact via conventional means of recognition towards their concrete work. The overarching project is to understand, on one hand, how the serial erasure of concrete work contributes to creating the film as a commodity and, on the other hand, how workers find value in their work under conditions where their effort is consumed by the things that they produce. …
This essay offers a brief intellectual history of the discourse surrounding “the future of culture” in Egypt. Starting with reflections on the future of the official cultural apparatus after the 2011 revolution, the essay moves on to three significant moments in the longer history of such reflections, each with its own set of concerns. These concerns range from culture and globalization in the 1990s and early 2000s, to cultural planning and development in the 1960s and 1970s, to culture and education in the wake of Taha Hussein’s The Future of Culture in Egypt (1938). Such changing concerns show how the so-called “future of culture” changes in different historical circumstances, while conceptions of culture remain tied to changing imaginaries of the nation-state. …
This paper was given as an invited talk to the Film, Media, and Culture research group at the University of Kent (UK) on February 19th, 2020
This paper was given at the Centre d’Études et de Documentation Économiques, Juridiques et Sociales (CEDEJ) in Cairo on September 24th, 2019.
Cite as: Chihab El Khachab (2019) “The Sobky Recipe and the Struggle over ‘The Popular’ in Egypt.” Arab Studies Journal 27, no. 1: 34-61
This paper was given at the “Governance and Processes of Bureaucratization” workshop co-organized by Dr Dominik Müller and Prof Dr Ursula Rao at the University of Leipzig (Germany) on January 31st, 2019.
This paper was presented at the 2018 Association of Social Anthropologists of the UK and Commonwealth (ASA) Annual Conference at the University of Oxford
This paper was presented at the 2018 British Society for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) Annual Conference in King’s College, London
This paper was presented at the “New Geographies of Visual Satire” conference organized in Christ Church (University of Oxford) on June 15th, 2018
Poisonous Roses (Ward Masmum) is an Egyptian film that premiered at the 2018 International Rotterdam Film Festival. A milestone in Egyptian cinema after the 2011 Revolution, the film is a stunning look into the working-class world of the tanneries in …