Abstract

The organizers of the protests in Egypt on January 25, 2011—"Police Day," a public holiday that commemorates the role of the police in the resistance against the British occupation in Egypt—wanted to subvert the celebration of the police and turn the day into an occasion to indict the institution in charge of policing—in a sense, putting it on public trial. To grasp the character of the police in Egypt, we need to consider the police not only as an organization in charge of public security, but as an agency of government in the broad sense. At the heart of police government of the social lie practices of surveillance and discipline of the body and the affect. I contend that the people's rising during the revolution was directed at the terms of police government through the affect. In putting forward this proposition, I highlight the role that physical punishment and verbal violence play in the disciplining of bodies and minds. Drawing on my fieldwork in Cairo's new popular quarters— conventionally referred to as "informal quarters"—and in informal markets, I will sketch out the patterns of interaction with the police and the structure of feelings toward the government of the police that developed in the processes of interaction. In this structure of feelings (or affective register), a sense of humiliation and of being humiliated is deeply felt by ordinary Egyptians. The experience of being humiliated in encounters with the police underpins affective dispositions such as anger, disdain, and revulsion toward the police.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1944-768X
Print ISSN
0037-783X
Pages
pp. 435-462
Launched on MUSE
2014-04-30
Open Access
No
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