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Middle East Studies Program | From Erasure to Remembrance: Affective Memories of Egyptian Feminists

March 7 @ 2:00 pm - 3:15 pm

This lecture will shed light on the political and intellectual trajectory of a pioneer suffragette in the history of Egyptian feminism, Duriyya Shafik, with the aim of exploring the processes of remembrance and forgetfulness of dissonant feminist voices in cultural memory. Shafik was an outspoken advocate for women and human rights throughout the 40s and 50s. In 1957 she was put under house arrest and her name banned from public life on account of her strong opposition to undemocratic practices by the President of the Republic. In the aftermath of the 25th of January revolution in Egypt in 2011, Duriyya’s memory was revived and celebrated widely and in diverse contexts. The new political realities characterized by a cycle of hope and despair, resulted in a revisionist journey into Egypt’s recent history, notably the 1950s and 60s, a period which also witnessed another revolutionary turbulence. Durriyya’s remembrance in the past decade was fueled by an affective dissonance, a state of feeling, that is at the same time individual, social and political, that recognizes the incongruous elements in the dominant narrative.
Hoda El Sadda is a professor of English and Comparative Literature at Cairo University. She is also a feminist and an activist for women’s rights. In 1992, she co-founded and co-edited Hagar, (1992–1996) an interdisciplinary journal in women’s studies published in Arabic. Her research interests are in the areas of gender studies, comparative literature and oral history. She is author of Gender, Nation and the Arabic Novel: Egypt: 1892–2008 (Edinburgh UP and Syracuse UP, 2012); and co-editor of Oral History in Times of Change: Gender, Documentation and the Making of Archives (Cairo Papers, 35:1, 2018).