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Accepted Paper:

Revolution as masculine narrative  
Mari Norbakk (Independent)

Paper short abstract:

The paper deals with young, middle class men in Cairo, and shows how the revolution of 2011 becomes a masculinity narrative, granting men agentive space as they struggle to live up to the male ideal of husband and provider.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper I will present one aspect of Egyptian masculinity, linked to the male ideal of provider for the family. In my ethnography from Cairo, Egypt in the spring of 2013, I present several middle and upper middle class men, all striving to get married and fulfill their role as grown men (Norbakk 2014). In their endeavors they were all faced with the issue of managing to provide the correct symbols of masculine class-status. In one very telling example I show how one of the young men employs the narrative of his participation, ability and bravery during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, to gain more space for masculine maneuvering. In a sense, the revolutionary narrative becomes his claim to manhood, and he uses it as leverage when he struggles to live up to the ideal as male provider. Inspired by Inhorns recent call for ethnographies of Arab men (2012), and Ghannams work on the male lifecycle in Cairo (2013), the paper outlines young Egyptian men's dealings with masculine ideals and the centrality of marriage. The paper goes on to show how the recent revolution becomes entangled with the men's own understanding of what constitutes a good man. Masculinity is viewed as an interactional phenomenon, which is at the same time constituting the men, as they perform and become men, while it also contributes to influence and change the social fabric. As such the masculinities are emergent (Inhorn 2012).

Panel P001
Anthropology of the "New Arab Man"
  Session 1