Egypt in the Future Tense

Egypt in the Future Tense

Hope, Frustration, and Ambivalence before and after 2011
Samuli Schielke
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 03/05/2015
Format: Paperback 24 b&w illus.
ISBN: 978-0-253-01587-7
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Against the backdrop of the revolutionary uprisings of 2011–2013, Samuli Schielke asks how ordinary Egyptians confront the great promises and grand schemes of religious commitment, middle class respectability, romantic love, and political ideologies in their daily lives, and how they make sense of the existential anxieties and stalled expectations that inevitably accompany such hopes. Drawing on many years of study in Egypt and the life stories of rural, lower-middle-class men before and after the revolution, Schielke views recent events in ways that are both historically deep and personal. Schielke challenges prevailing views of Muslim piety, showing that religious lives are part of a much more complex lived experience.

Author Bio

Samuli Schielke is a research fellow at Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) and an external lecturer at the Free University of Berlin. He is author of The Perils of Joy: Contesting Mulid Festivals in Contemporary Egypt, and editor (with Knut Graw) of The Global Horizon: Expectations of Migration in Africa and the Middle East and (with Liza Debevec) of Ordinary Lives and Grand Schemes: An Anthropology of Everyday Religion.


“Against the backdrop of the revolutionary uprisings of 2011–2013, Schielke asks how ordinary Egyptians confront the great promises and grand schemes of religious commitment, middle class respectability, romantic love, and political ideologies in their daily lives.”

“This is a much anticipated and urgently important work, a landmark contribution alike to several fields of inquiry: to understanding the causes, course, and consequences of the 'Arab Spring,' to the description and interpretation of contemporary reformist and political Islam, and to the developing field of anthropological theory of everyday ethical life. A major, multifaceted, and sophisticated study.”
 — James Laidlaw, University of Cambridge

“Egypt in the Future Tense is an incredibly exciting book. It provides an altogether innovative, compelling, and sensitive perspective on what is perhaps the most important question facing young people in the Middle East today: how to make a life in rapidly shifting, complex times whose future is uncertain.”
 — Jessica Winegar, author of Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt

“[A] well-written, deeply researched anthropological investigation of the ethos—the experiential tone or mood—of Egyptian life in the twenty-first century. . . . Schielke's residence in the country before, during, and after the political uprisings of 2011 lends authority to his writing about the broader significance of these events. . . . [A] major contribution.”
 — Gregory Starrett, author of Putting Islam to Work: Education, Politics and Religious Transformation in Egypt

“Egypt in the Future Tense is a remarkable ethnography that is eloquently written and theoretically sophisticated. The book will make a long-lasting contribution to debates within and beyond anthropology concerning the understanding of the ethical and moral universes of Egyptian Muslims. ”
 — Magnus Marsden, University of Sussex

“This wonderful book brings fresh insights into the anthropology of hope in general and Egypt in particular. It makes a rewarding read for scholars interested in how life and all its ambiguities and aspirations unfold under changing notions of religious commitment, new regimes of circulation, and emerging patterns of consumption.”
 — American Anthropologist

“Prompts us to consider Egypt not just on its own terms, but as an exceedingly long and well-documented experiment in authoritarianism, a societal order that has turned into a great disorder.2/12/16”
 — Times Literary Supplement

“Egypt in the Future Tense is an accessible and lively text for undergraduate and graduate students of the anthropology of the Middle East, religion, and a variety of topics from globalization and consumption, to activism and social movements. . . . Beyond anthropology, scholars of Middle East politics will find Schielke’s ethnography a valuable addition to understanding the motivations and consequences of Egypt’s 2011 impasse. ”
 — Middle East Journal

“In his sensitive retelling and analysis of the life stories of several young Egyptian men (and a few women), Schielke . . . illustrates the complex and contradictory impact of Muslim revivalism on the expectations and hopes of Egyptian youth. . . . Recommended.”
 — Choice

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Table of Contents

Introduction: A moment in history
1. Boredom and frustration
2. An hour for your heart and an hour for your Lord
3. Knowing Islam
4. Love troubles
5. Capitalist ethics?
6. I want to be committed
7. Engaging the world
8. Condition: normal
9. Those who said No
Conclusion: On freedom, destiny, and consequences

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