Dust and the City- Network of Urban Studies in Egypt (NUSE) Seminar, 28 February 2023

Yasmin Shafei Discussion

CEDEJ- Centre d'études et de documentation économiques, juridiques et sociales

NUSE Seminar- Network of Urban Studies in Egypt 

Dust and the City
By Aya Nassar 
BA Postdoctoral Fellow, Warwick University
Discussant: Jerry C. Zee, Princeton University

February 28, 2023
4pm-6pm at the CEDEJ
23 Gamal el-Din Abu el-Mahasen
Garden City, Cairo



Meeting ID: 981 5803 4744

Passcode: uk87HA


How can dust be instructive of creative politics and knowledges? This seminar is based on a chapter I am writing that aims to explore Cairo as a fragmentary archive of itself, by tying in the poetics dust to the actual archival sites that hold its post-independence history. It starts with everyday articulations of sentiments of loss evoked by failed attempt to preserve urban heritage and prevent demolitions. This is used to unfurl the political and violent nature of ruination.

In the contrasting im/possibilities of a redemptive archive of the city, the urban history of the city is politicised amidst politics of erasure. Dust materially and poetically links the fragmentary, and at times, inaccessible spaces of the archive to slow temporality of unmaking the city, but ---  I suggest-- it does more. In thinking with dust, I try to ask some questions about our attachments to the city, particularly in its granular make-up. Dust-storms. For instance, typically bring about a sense of suspension, fear and ending, therefore revealing contrasting affects about the city. They also inspire a speculative mode of relating to space and place. How might dust tug at our affective relationships to the city? What if the solidity of the ground is unstable or can’t be trusted? How do we experience the city when its weight is pulled up, remade or suspended?