Title

Building "Community" and Markets in Contemporary Cairo

Abstract

This paper interrogates the political economy of re-regulation in market-driven economies through the lens of transformations in contemporary Cairo. Focusing on property markets, the paper demonstrates that rather than reveling in the freeing of real estate through the reversal of rent control laws, private sector actors were working to re-regulate the real estate market. They were not turning to legal mechanisms or patronage networks, but invested in the production of local community in central Cairo as they worked to re-regulate the market. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork from 2011-2012, the paper compares how two private sector actors with varying relationships to the market reacted to the reversal of rent control. The paper demonstrates that both actors were mobilizing urban planning and architectural design as modes of societal engineering to foster local particularistic communities as they worked to corner real estate markets both upward toward a high-end clientele and downwards towards low-income residents. In unpacking how these actors mobilized community as they worked to intervene in markets, and their interventions' contradictions, the paper challenges the idea that trust or relational networks are the most valued facets of community in market-transitioning economies. It shows that actors value the spatial boundary-setting and particularism of communities as they work to re-regulate markets, and accentuate difference rather than trust in those contexts.

Publisher

Cambridge University Press

Publication Date

4-1-2018

Publication Title

Comparative Studies in Society and History

Department

Politics

Additional Department

Middle East and North Africa Studies

Document Type

Article

DOI

10.1017/S0010417518000129

Keywords

Community development, Real estate, Urban transformation, Social engineering, Neoliberalism, Authenticity, Rent control, Developing cities, Cairo

Language

English

Format

text

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