This conversation with May al-Ibrashy is the last one of a series of twelve recorded in the Levant and Egypt. In it, we discuss the current political situation of Egypt after the 2011 revolution and the 2013 military coup d’état. As she writes, “my new motto [is] if you’re not confused, you’re stupid.” Trying not to fall into stupidity, we thus attempt to question the various problems that creates such a confusion, in particular when it comes to heritage. In this regard, the fire at the Institut d’Egypte that burned thousands of documents in December 2011 is exemplary of a political instrumentalization of heritage-based collective emotion. May also undertakes to dissipates my intuition that Cairo has been fundamentally militarized since the coup, when the Egyptian army has always played a crucial role in the city. We finish by evoking the creative work of a young Egyptian generation that brings hope in a difficult moment.
May al-Ibrashy is founder and chair of the Built Environment Collective, an Egyptian NGO that operates via MEGAWRA, a hub of architecture and urbanism that organizes a regular program of public talks and events in addition to research and community outreach projects (www.megawra.org). She is director of al-Athar Lina, a participatory initiative integrating conservation and community development based in Historic Cairo (www.atharlina.com). In addition to her practical work as an architect with close to 25 years of experience in architectural conservation and documentation, she is adjunct lecturer of architecture at the American University in Cairo and Ain Shams University. She holds a BSc in architecture from Ain Shams University and a PhD and MA in art, architecture and archaeology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, the University of London.
ASSOCIATED CONVERSATION ON ARCHIPELAGO:
– “From Timbuktu to Fort de France: The Iconic Power of Monuments and their Destruction,” with Bhakti Shringarpure (August 2014)