This thesis is an ethnography of the labor movement at the American University in Cairo (AUC). I examine the major changes in the relationship between the workers and the university beginning in 2010. I first narrate the series of strikes that were carried out by the workers in October 2010, September 2011, and April 2012. Throughout this narration I analyze how contention and political opportunities define each strike's tactics and level of success. Additionally I look at how the strikes changed the way in which the workers can pursue grievances at the university. Second, I look at how the Independent syndicate competes with the older, more established state affiliated syndicate in an effort to gain support and have more influence with AUC. Finally, I look at how the workers themselves perceive their work, as well as the two syndicates. As an ethnographic study of the independent syndicate and the workers at AUC, this research adds to the literature on labor struggle in Egypt, but situated within the context of a private university.

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date


Submission Date

September 2013

First Advisor

Austin-Holmes, Amy

Committee Member 1

Rizzo, Helen

Committee Member 2

Saad, Reem


120 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

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