Cally Walker


This thesis explores how the meaning and experience of space contributes to our understanding of sexual harassment in downtown Cairo. I argue that we cannot understand relationships on the street without acknowledging the various affective discourses concerning space. Experiences of the everyday social, political and economic affect men and women differently, and constitute visible contextual and temporal sites of tension. I argue that the development-esque term of sexual harassment envelopes a wide range of practices that depend entirely on the moment and context of utterance. According to a 2013 United Nations report on Egypt, 48.9% of women believe that harassment has increased since the January 2011 uprising that called for political freedom and social justice. During 2011-2014, a number of violent political events have taken place in and around downtown Cairo that are significant for the area and for the nation at large. These events affect people’s perceptions of the area depending on the individual’s class, gender, age or political persuasion among other variables. I explore how this particular social, economic and political moment and location affect the interactions between individuals in public. This research suggests that a microanalysis of movement in the street reflects wider social anxieties about social change and politics of power both domestically and internationally. Aside from political events other (although not unrelated) social and economic shifts took place in the flux between local and global. I explore how people make room for each other on the streets amidst conflicts that the neo-liberal city presents. Understanding how people view space and interact with one another reveals negotiations and tensions that are an important conversation for understanding sexual harassment.


Middle East Studies Center

Degree Name

MA in Middle East Studies

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2014

First Advisor

Rieker, Martina

Committee Member 1

Rizzo, Helen


145 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Sexual harassment of women -- Egypt -- Cairo.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Sex discrimition against women -- Egypt -- Cairo.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Approval has been obtained for this item


I would like to give my upmost thanks to my advisor Dr Marti Rieker who has guided this process and helped me enormously, the class and coursework from Theorizing Gender has formed the basis for the questions in this thesis. I would also like to thank my other readers Dr Helen Rizzo and Dr Mo Abaza for their time and academic instruction that has also shaped this project, Dr Sherene Seikaly and Dr Sandrine Gamblin for their support and advice also. Many thanks to the work and friendship of the whole Middle East Studies Centre students and employees 2012-2014 especially Kristen BelleIsle, Owain Lawson, Jade Lansing and Claire Forster who formed the basis of an excellent academic and persol committee. This work could not have been completed without the generosity of the University’s Intertiol Graduate Fellowship that I benefited from tremendously.