This thesis aims at understanding Cairo’s production and reproduction through the eyes of the street children, who are the abandoned communities living in street situations. The street children are the main storytellers of Cairo as a city. The research moves away from seeing them as a burden on society or as mere subjects of poverty alleviation and development programs and rethinks their contribution to the city, its labor, and to understandings of the body, life, and death. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork over a seven months period, in Syada Zaynab, Abu El reesh, Dokki, Maadi, Heliopolis, and downtown neighbourhoods, the research theorizes Cairo specifically, and cities more generally, from the perspective of their marginalised populations. This research thus starts by mapping Cairo as an exhausted space in which exhausted bodies live and produce the city. It is also written from and about post-revolutionary Cairo; a space traced through its rhythms of living a revolution, and the decaying of this revolution. Using this temporality, the thesis shows how, when it comes to the street children, Cairo is a death world, in which the street children are ungrievable and are seen as bare life. Yet the ethnographic fieldwork also reveals their endurance of time as labourers producing the city. In this thesis they are neither criminals nor victims but rather just children, labourers, lovers, and dreamers. The street children thus create lives beyond the fixed interpellation of the state and the constructed society. Cairo therefore also escapes its fixed production through hegemonic powers and discourses. This scholarship uses three conceptual frameworks; bodies, space, and time, to propose a new understanding of Cairo from the point of view of the street children.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences


Sociology, Egyptology & Anthroplology Department

Degree Name

MA in Sociology-Anthropology

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2020

First Advisor

Makram-Ebeid, Dina

Committee Member 1

Sabea, Hanan

Committee Member 2

Schwab, Manuel

Committee Member 3

Rieker, Martina


193 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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