Accepted Paper:

Security as distinction: emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo  
Wiebe Ruijtenberg (Leiden University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores the emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo to reveal the ways (in)security is produced and subsequently deployed as a discourse of distinction.

Paper long abstract:

This article contributes to recent anthropological work on security by exploring the emerging concerns of security among residents of gated communities in Cairo. Inspired by some of that work, it moves the analytical focus away from state actors and institutions to look at the security practices and discourses of ordinary (if upper class) Egyptians living in gated communities. This analytical shift reveals how feelings of insecurity are produced and reproduced through the experience of living behind walls, and the agentive ways in which gated community residents draw on their insecurities to erect even more physical and discursive boundaries. Through this boundary work, residents of gated communities in Cairo generate new patterns of mobility and new forms of sociability that work to reproduce the distinction between the secure gated community and the insecure outside world, and gated community residents as potential 'targets' and outsiders as potential 'perpetrators'. Drawing on seven months of ethnographic fieldwork, this paper thus expands the current anthropological understanding of security as a rationale behind emerging forms state governance, to include security as a central theme in vernacular practices and discourses that reproduce distinctions along lines of class, gender, race, and religion.

Panel P095
Spaces of security [Anthropology of Security] [PACSA]