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A tale of three cities?: mediated imagination, class and the many young cosmopolitans of Cairo

Elsayed, Heba (2011) A tale of three cities?: mediated imagination, class and the many young cosmopolitans of Cairo. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Abstract

This thesis has explored the ways in which young Egyptians construct different classed versions of a cosmopolitan imagination while located in the megacity of Cairo. In an intense ethnographic study, I have examined the ways in which young men and women shape their identities at the juxtaposition of a social reality, which is rigidly structured around classed and gendered divides on the one hand, and a diverse and fluid system of media representations of the self and others, on the other hand. Focusing on everyday life in Cairo has allowed me to examine the contradictory social and cultural experiences associated with being young in a megacity of the global south. Whilst the daily urban lives of these young Cairenes are located within embedded structures that place firm limits on their social and physical mobilities, the city is also a more creative terrain where these highly structured limits on the self are negotiated. As young people move physically in the city, yet shift imaginatively between different systems of representation available to them in the rich mediascapes they have access to, their sense of identity expands. Specifically, this cosmopolitanism takes the form of a dynamic subjective space and a category of imagination from within which identities, drawing heavily on globally circulating media products, are reflexively understood and interpreted. Thus, operating from within repressive, socially fragmented, yet highly mediated everyday contexts, I explore how young Egyptians construct three different versions of a cosmopolitan imagination: closed cosmopolitanism as imagined by the upper middle class, critical cosmopolitanism relating to the experiences of the lower middle class, and for the working class, an implicit cosmopolitan imagination.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2012 Heba Elsayed
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Sets: Departments > Media and Communications
Supervisor: Georgiou, Myria
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/407

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