Egyptian culture in crisis?

Whatever else happened to the Egyptians?The Beirut Review (a literary supplement to the Daily Star) just ran a review I wrote of Galal Amin's sequel to "Whatever Happened to the Egyptians?" (entitled, creatively, "Whatever Else Happened to the Egyptians?"). Amin is an economics professor at the American University in Cairo, and he analyzes changes in Egyptian society and culture over the last 50 years or so using concepts of social mobility, productivity and globalization. This second book focuses at some length on what Amin considers Egypt's cultural decline. As you'll see from the review, I don't agree that culture in Egypt is in such dire straits as Amin does (I just saw Ahmed El Attar's play "Mother I want to be a Millionaire" the other night--a dynamic, original piece that comments on almost every aspect of contemporary Arab culture in a series of fluid, visually captivating, overlapping vignettes--and was very impressed), but he makes some valid points about the mediocrity of mass culture and the negative effects of state-subsidized venues for expression.

Ursula Lindsey

Ursula Lindsey is the managing editor of the Arabist blog. She writes about culture, education and politics in the Arab world. She lived in Cairo from 2002 to 2013 and got her start at the ground-breaking independent magazine Cairo Times. She was the culture editor of Cairo magazine in 2005-2006 and served as special projects editor at the independent news site Mada Masr in 2013-2014. She is the Chronicle of Higher Education's Middle East correspondent. She contributes to the BBC-PRI radio program The World, and has written for Newsweek, The New York Times, The New Yorker online, Bookforum and the blog of the London Review of Books.