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Alia Mossallam and Nermin El Sherif


Mapping the Counter-Histories of Port Said: A Critical Reading Into a Communal Mapping Project

[Audience contributes to communal map. Photo by Youmna El-Khattan.

“Here the tabular space--of the map, the canvas, the textbook--comes to be transformed into a topology that rapidly acquires depth when it is bent and deviated by excluded rhythms and dislocating narratives. Space is never empty or merely geometrical; it is always full of detailed, unfolding configurations. It is not only physical but also temporal; it is not a mute object but product and process…it flees the closure of planned, panoptical, measured, geometric ...

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Alia Mossallam and Nermin El Sherif


Alia Mossallam is interested in songs that tell stories and stories that tell the experiences of people behind the events that make World History. Her PhD looked at a popular history of Nasserist Egypt, exploring the songs and stories of the workers who built the High Dam, the Nubians displaced by it, and the members of the civilian resistance in the canal cities from the Suez War in 1956 to the end of the October War in February 1974. Since then, she has explored the experiences of the Egyptian labour corps in World War I, the movements leading up to the 1919 Revolution, and the movements in Alexandria leading up to 1882. Her research appears in both academic literature as well as on stage--through playwriting. Alia has taught at the American University in Cairo, the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the History Workshops “Ihky ya Tarikh.” Her publications appear in the Journal of Water History, the History Workshop Journal, and she occasionally writes for Mada Masr. She is currently working on her first book as an Alexander Von Humboldt Fellow at the EUME and the Centre for Near Eastern and African Politics in the Freie Universität, Berlin. 

Nermin El Sherif is an architect and urban scholar based in Cairo. Soon after her graduation in 2012, she worked between academia and the developmental participatory practices. It did not take her a long time to realize that among the main reasons of the urban injustice in Egypt was a crisis of representation before being a legislative or economic problem. Egyptians have rarely drawn their own maps, being constantly "mapped," their representations of space took other forms from songs to literature. In 2015, she started working on her MSc thesis titled "Understanding Cairo through its maps: From papers to digital screens." Exploring the possibilities the internet has offered to visualize "other maps of Egypt," a project that she later explored between academia and working as a teaching assistant in the German University in Cairo--and initiatives like "Ihky Ya Tarikh."