Mohamed Ezz (University of Alexandria, Department of sociology), “What had to be done…”: Ismail’s Ambitious Plan to (re)invent Urban Subjects. City administration and Urban administration in late 19th century Cairo
This paper aims to examine the historical discursive practices and events associated with Cairo’s urban planning in the late 19th century. While addressing the lack of academic literature concerning Modern Urban forms of deliberative democracy in Khedival Cairo. At this transitional chapter of Cairo, the city was envisaged by the khedive Ismail as an emerging “modern cosmopolitan” that adheres to European aesthetics.
Not until the late 19th century did Ali Mubarak, one of the first Egyptian students sent to France to seek higher education, embark on “modernizing” Cairo, under the ambitious khedive’s plan (1863-1879). Eager to reshape the city, by demolishing parts of the “crime-filled and health haphazard” neighborhoods, drawing on Hussmann’s legacy in the European continent. Ali Mubarak, who was appointed as the head of the “public works department”, supervised a team of engineers whose main objective was to map and plan the “New Cairo”.
The paper examines Cairo’s city administration (Majlis Tanzim) reports and correspondence by the time it was absorbed under the Ministry of Public Works (Nizarat al-Ashghal al-‘Umumiyya). By appealing to the Discourse-Historical Approach to primary (non)governmental resources, this paper illuminates the discussion on Cairo’s urban experience by the end of the 19th century. In consideration of the fact that (DHA) approach draws on the socio-cognitive processes that lead to the exclusion of some political discourses over others Lacerda (2014). Furtherly enabling this paper to analyse the discursive actions and texts produced on Cairo’s urban spaces and the representation of city residents as the subjects of the new measures undertaken and with regards to the new colonial hegemony. Thus, informing readers on spaces where Cairenes negotiated and contested the ambitious plan of the khedive to beautify Cairo.
Graduated from the University of Alexandria B.A. in sociology back in 2019, M. Ezz focuses his work on Egypt’s urban policy and spatial inequalities associated with it. He is currently residing in Cairo, where he is researching and documenting informal housing/markets, and the implication associated with government plans on the livelihood of Cairenes. Ezz, continuously engaged in themes of urban policy, political economy, and Public space Securitization. In addition to his writings and research, Ezz is a communications and PR consultant for Arts & Culture nonprofits in Cairo.