Theses Doctoral

Licentious Topographies: Space and the Traumas of Colonial Subjectivity in Modern Egypt

Dardir, Ahmed Diaa

This dissertation explores the history of the counterrevolutionary tradition that characterizes political dissidents as licentious and failed subjects. From a contemporary vantage point shaped by the predominance of this tradition in post 2011 Egyptian counterrevolutionary propaganda, this study provides a genealogy of this tradition that reveals its anchoring in Western philosophical-ideological interventions that trace themselves back to the ancient Greeks, in Western counterrevolutionary rhetoric that harks back to the French Revolution and is consolidated in the attacks on the Paris Commune, and in their deployment in colonial, anti-colonial, and postcolonial settings. Moving across the Egyptian, European, and colonial histories of these ideological and political traditions, this study charts various licentious topographies (the crowd, the political organization, the Satanist cult, the Orient) in which bad subjects are ensconced in accordance with the dominant ideologies of the State since the 19th century, and examines the figures, motifs, and topoi which constitute these bad subjects. In providing a history of the bad subject, the dissertation intervenes in the discussions surrounding subjectivity by positing that in addition to identifying with certain notions, ideals, and ideal images, proper subjectivity is also constituted through identifying against the bad egos and bad imagoes that constitute the bad subject. Paying special attention to the gendering and especially the racializing of the latter, the study exposes the subjective trauma effected by the colonial imposition of this ideological mode of identification.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Massad, Joseph A.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
May 14, 2018