Based on fieldwork in Cairo, this article shows how analysis of bodily practice and of political economy - two fields that anthropologists have treated as completely separate - intersect in important ways. I provide conceptual tools to solve a common ethnographic dilemma: how can members of a group with no official status, no distinguishing marks of ethnicity, religious difference, race, recognize others who share that identity? I argue that the embodied practice in which the historically constituted identity of sha'abi people in Cairo is evinced lies in the realm of gesture, while the embodied practice through which status as a pious Muslim is evinced lies in the realm of significant symbol. I further argue that gestural resources of poor people of Cairo can usefully be analysed as a 'semiotic commons' and 'collective good' in the political economy of Egypt.
|Translated title of the contribution
|The political economy of movement and gesture in Cairo
|Number of pages
|Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
|Published - Mar 2011
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)