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Aaron Jakes

The Severed Branches of Local Government

[President Mohamed Morsi and Head of the Constituent Assembly Hossam al-Gheriany hold a copy of the draft constitution. Photo from President Mohamed Morsi's official Facebook page.]

Sometime in the middle of last March, while I was still living in Cairo, I was working at my desk when I heard a noisy argument outside my window. The street in Zamalek where I lived was home to about a dozen little shops, along with a small café and a cafeteria, and I had long since learned to tune out the shouts and clamors that punctuated the busy working day outside. So I didn’t take much notice of the altercation or the more subdued commotion that followed for the next ...

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The Myth of Egypt's Liberal Constitution

[King Fouad I of Egypt, accompanied by Prime Minister Muhammad Mahmoud Pasha and several ministers. Image by Riad Shehata. From Wikimedia Commons.]

In the years leading up to January 2011, Egypt’s past often appeared as an admonishment to the present. While their invocations of history assumed many forms, critics of the Mubarak regime became particularly enthralled with the so-called “liberal era” that followed the revolution of 1919. Secularist liberals saw the interwar decades as a golden age of political freedom, religious tolerance and cultural efflorescence. Political conservatives reinvented the Egyptian monarchy ...

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Two Hands Clapping: the Double Logic of Counter-Revolution

[Photograph by Aaron Jakes.

On 23 January 2011, President Hosni Mubarak strolled to the podium of Egypt’s ornate police academy auditorium to deliver his annual Police Day address. Just five days later, after a great wave of popular protests had all but shattered the very security forces he had come to celebrate, Mubarak would appear on television in the guise of a weary and disappointed father, grasping to comprehend the treachery of his beloved children. But in this his last public address ...

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Aaron Jakes


Aaron Jakes is a doctoral candidate in the departments of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at New York University. He lives in Cairo, where he is conducting research for his doctoral dissertation, entitled “The Scales of Public Utility: Agrarian Transformation and Colonial Rule in Egypt, 1882-1922.” He currently holds research fellowships from Fulbright-Hays and the Social Science Research Council. His recent publications include a piece on the political marginalization of the Egyptian countryside and another on the contemporary resonance of the Dinshawai Incident.