CISSM Forum | October 24, 2013

"Why did the Egyptian Revolution Stop at the Municipal Level? Local Government, Urban Challenges, and Democratization”

by Diane Singerman, Associate Professor, School of Public Affairs, American University

In the aftermath of protest and political change at the national level in Egypt, there has been very little democratic change at the local formal institutional level. One of the key demands of the 2011 uprising was social justice and this talk will analyze the increasingly difficult urban challenges of the mega-city of Cairo, as well as efforts among urbanists and activists to claim their “right to the city.” How does an understanding of the bureaucratic edifice of local politics in Egypt, contestation over the built environment, and comparative examples of urban change from other democratic transitions shed light on the Egyptian case? 

About the speaker

Diane Singerman is Associate Professor in the Department of Government, School of Public Affairs at American University. Among her publications are: Cairo Contested: Governance, Urban Space, and Global Modernity, (ed., 2009), Cairo Cosmopolitan: Politics, Culture, and Urban Space in the New Globalized Middle East (co-edt. with Paul Amar 2006), Avenues of Participation: Family, Politics, and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo (1995) and Development, Change, and Gender in Cairo: A View from the Household (co-edited with Homa Hoodfar, 1996). [The Cairo volumes will soon be translated into Arabic and published by the National Center for Translation, Egypt].

Her research interests lie within comparative politics, gender and politics in Egypt and the Middle East, informal politics, political participation, urbanism, youth, globalization, and social movements. She is currently leading a project about urban governance, the built environment, and social justice in Egypt’s cities, called “Tadamun: The Cairo Urban Solidarity Initiative” which is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation ( She received her Ph.D. from Princeton University and did graduate work at the American University in Cairo.