This thesis is an ethnography of the encounters between figures of the state and some death row detainees and their family members. The project explores what it means to be sentenced to death and executed in contemporary death row cases, what fantasies encounters with the ‘state’ imply or satisfy, and how time unfolds throughout the murder. As such, in exploring the genealogy and bureaucratization of murder, this ethnography problematizes the official discourses of abstraction, efficacy, and sanitization around the penalty. Instead, it focuses on the everydayness of the penalty within the legal and penal systems, and draws heavily on the details and nuances of encounters with state personnel in courtrooms, prisons, and morgues. In doing so, I ask who kills the bodies? How do they become killable? When do they (not) die? Whose are they? Where do they go? Starting with the body, and the networks in and through which the body moves, the project nevertheless expands on possibilities of presence despite the absence of the physical body, thereby pointing to the intricacies of and between life/death, human/nonhuman, and memory/future.


Sociology, Egyptology & Anthroplology Department

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date

Fall 1-13-2019

Submission Date


First Advisor

Saad, Reem

Committee Member 1

Sabea, Hanan

Committee Member 2

Fahmy, Khaled


205 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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