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Nayera Abdelrahman Soliman


Between Home and Nation. Forced Displacement and National Identity in post-1952 Egypt

Between Home and Nation: Forced Displacement and National Identity in post-1952 Egypt

The roots of the construction of the current Egyptian national discourse go back to the moment of 23rd July 1952. A group of officers from the Egyptian army took over the rule and transformed Egypt from a kingdom under the British occupation to an independent republic ruled by Egyptian. This research aims to understand the process of construction of Egyptian national identity through the stories of people who were forced to leave their homes due to “national” events after 1952. People who were obliged to leave their cities to other cities inside their own country. This happened massively two times during Nasser regime: Nubian in 1963-1964 and Canal Suez cities inhabitants in 1967. Focusing on 1967 displacement, this research questions how do the displaced people between 1967-1973 react to respective nationalist official discourse about their displacement and how does the experience of displacement influence the construction of their national identity and belonging to Egypt? 

In 1967, Israel occupied the Sinai Peninsula. About 60 % of the inhabitants of Suez Canal cities (around one million persons) became forced migrants to other cities in Egypt especially in the Delta and Upper Egypt. Each city of the three has an important position in the official national narrative of the Egyptian nation-state. However,this displacement remains an “untold story” although being omnipresent in the collective memory of the inhabitants.

This research aims to:

  • Discover the experience of internal displacement during a conflict but also a “defeat” through the stories of people portraying not only what happened but how and why this happened.
  • Analyze how did this experience influence their understanding of “home” and “nation”, and the construction of their national identity.
  • Understand how did the post-1952 Egyptian State manage the mobility and the displacement of almost one million persons from three different cities in a moment of “defeat”.

Methodologically, it is inspired by feminist epistemology by trying to produce knowledge from the “margins”. It is based mainly on oral history interviews with those who were displaced in the three cities and those who remain in host cities or villages, but also their personal archives (memoirs, photos, articles, novels). It will also be based on analyzing the official discourse about the displacement through archival research, if accessible.

Soliman, Nayera Abdelrahman. 2021. “The Three Decisions of Umm Bîjû: Walking in Suez and Seeing the Ghosts of 1967 War”. ema (Égypte/Monde arabe) 23, S. 81–103. DOI: 10.4000/ema.14754.

Abdelrahman Soliman, Nayera. 2017. “Reform, Resist, Recreate: The Role of Civil Society in Education in Egypt”. Civil Society and Public Policy Formation. Strategies from Morocco and Egypt. Arab Reform Initiative. in http://www.arab-reform.net/en/node/1077

Abdelrahman Soliman, Nayera. 2016. “Development of school curricula”. Papers Alternatives, Arab Forum for Alternatives. in https://goo.gl/HaANQ7