Book Reading/Signing: Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt

Tue, September 25, 2007 7:00 pm at Alwan for the Arts

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Book Reading by Jessica Winegar

Free and open to the public

Refreshments will be served

Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2006) is an ethnographic study of the intense debates over cultural authenticity and artistic value that occur in a postcolonial society undergoing market liberalization. Based on 33 months of fieldwork in Egypt, the book examines the creation, circulation, and commodification of art in the context of a globalizing cultural economy.

The Egyptian art world is the oldest and largest in the Arab Middle East. Its artists must reckon with the histories of ancient Egypt, European modernism, anti-colonial nationalism, and state socialism-all in the context of a growing neoliberal economy marked by American global dominance. At this crucial intersection of culture, politics, and economy, Egypt's art and artists provide unique insight into current struggles for cultural identity and sovereignty in the Middle East.

This book examines the heated cultural politics in today's Arab world, and tells how art-making has become an unexpectedly central part of that. It offers a lively analysis of the battles between artists, curators, and audiences over cultural authenticity, cultural policy, public art in a changing urban Egypt, and the new global marketing of Egyptian art. The art world it shows powerfully exemplifies how people in the Middle East reckon with global transformations that are changing how culture is made in societies with colonial and socialist pasts.

Jessica Winegar is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Temple University, where she teaches courses in visual culture and the Middle East. She is the author of a book and numerous articles on contemporary Egyptian visual art, and a recipient of fellowships from the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Humanities. She is currently working on a historical and ethnographic project tracing the work of the culture concept in Egypt. Dr. Winegar is also a founding member of the Task Force on Middle East Anthropology, a group dedicated to increasing the relevance, visibility, and application of anthropological perspectives on the Middle East.

Last updated: 2007-11-21 11:39:27

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