Mohamed Elshahed is the Modern Egypt Project curator at the British Museum. He has a PhD in Middle Eastern history from NYU, and he is the founder of blog Cairobserver.com. Trained as an architect, Elshahed’s multidisciplinary practice focuses on the history of modernism in Egypt through architecture, images, and objects.
His research and writing have focused on the works of Egyptian modernist architects, their publications, and the circulation of images of modernist buildings as a form of politics.
At the British Museum, he is responsible for building a new collection of material culture from the past century in Egypt. The collected objects will shed light on lifestyle, culture, economy and politics, as well as the developments, transformations, and major events in 20th-century Egypt.
His lunch-time talk is part of the Global Issues Symposium.
The Egyptian press once played an important role in galvanizing the public toward urban issues. Particularly in the aftermath of the 1952 coup d'état, images of Cairo's present and imagined future were circulated in print media by architects promoting their visions and by government offices aiming to quell public concern over the future of the city.
Over the following decades, the city as a topic was pushed to the margins of newspapers and magazines, perhaps a reflection of the stagnation of the state's urban policies and the public's loss of interest, paradoxically, while Egyptian cities grew exponentially.
This talk charts this history, focusing on the 1950s and extending into the present situation.