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The neutralisation of urban space through relocation in post-revolutionary Cairo during late neoliberal authoritarianism.

This research examines how interests in power domination manifest themselves in the built environment, in a process we called the political 'neutralization' of urban space. For this, it examines the situation in Egypt, where the government is using urban design to depoliticise public space by impeding various forms of inappropriate use. This is reflected in an unprecedented pace of urbanisation, relocation and resettlement since 2014. Also some special control mechanisms are deployed in these new spaces, such as systematic exclusion, segregation, and deep surveillance. The local idiosyncrasies, trends, such as neoliberalisation, multi-coloured citizenship, depoliticization, camps and financialization, are both global trends and local events relevant to the concept of neutralisation. Studying the recent archetypes of relocation in Egypt allows us to understand these global ideas in their Egyptian political and historical context, as well as the translation of politics and hegemony into spatial forms. The neutralisation process is studied by means of two complementary cases that cover various aspects of the process: the Maspero neighbourhood in central Cairo, and the public housing project 'Tahia Masr' in al-Asmarat on the outskirts of the city. These two case studies make it possible to uncover the precise mechanisms by which design is involved in this disruption and reduction of urban multiplicity and territoriality. They illuminate how the process of neutralisation involves the shedding of the multiplicity of scripts present in spaces and territoriality, and their reduction to a single formal spatial script that leads to a unified territorial dominance.
Date:15 Jul 2022 →  14 Jul 2023
Disciplines:Urban and regional design, Architectural practice