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Aya Nassar

I am broadly interested in the relationship between urban space and politics. My research looks into the transforming space of the capital city Cairo, during the first three decades of post-colonial Egypt. I am looking particularly at the architectural and urban planning practices of the 1970s , to see how they can enrich our understanding of the politics of post-independence middle East and the production of city spaces through postcolonial statecraft. Therefore my research interest spans political theory, political geography, urban studies and Middle East studies.

I started my PhD at PAIS in October 2014 under supervision of Dr. Nicola Pratt and Dr. James Brassett , and with funding from the Chancellor's International Scholarship. Currently I am my third year and have just finished conducting fieldwork abroad, which is predominantly based on archival material.

I am an organising member of the Warwick Political Geography group which is formed of PhD researchers in PaIS working broadly with issues in the intersection of Place, Space and Politics. This year (2017) I am also assisting Marijn Nieuwenhuis on the IAS funded research project and exhibition Losing Ground: on holes and other absences.

Before joining Warwick, I have been working as a teaching assistant and assistant lecturer of political science in Cairo University. I conducted research on the spatial narratives and memory in "Bein Al-Sarayat"- the neighbourhood adjacent to Cairo University, and on urban activism and urban rights post 2011 with the Arab Reform Initiative project. I had also convened and organised a conference on "politics and literature" (2013), and was a co-organiser of the DAAD funded: “Cairo 2012 urban transformation workshop” (2012).


PO381 Critical Security Studies seminars (2016-2017).


  • "Poetics of Ruination: The afterlives of the revolution in the city- scape of Cairo", 11th Pan-European Conference on International Relations (EISA) The Politics of International Studies in an Age of Crises 13–16 September / Barcelona.
  • "Untyings and Undoings: archival finds in and of the city", RGS-IBG Annual International Conference 2017, London, 31 August.
  • "Losing Ground: On holes and other absences", PAIS 3rd Annual Research Conference, Coventry, the University of Warwick, with Marijn Nieuwenhuis- 21 June.
  • "A hole with a view on the Nile", Losing Ground: on holes and other absences, workshop and exhibition, the University of Warwick, Coventry, 19-20 May 2017. (co-organizer of the event)
  • "Dust Stories: “The Archives of the City” and “The City as an Archive”, The Third ACSS Conference State, Sovereignty and Social Space in the Arab Region: Emerging Historical and Theoretical Approaches, Beirut, March 10-12, 2017.
  • Panel co-organiser "Generations, Ruination and Memory in Egypt 1952- 2011" . (Non-attending) presentation "Monuments of the State: urban space, commemoration and nationalism in 1970s Cairo", MESA 2016 Annual Meeting, Boston, 17-20 November 2016.
  • "Field notes from Cairo: excavating urban pasts in a turbulent present", Identity, Agency and Fieldwork Methodologies in Risky Environments, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Institute for Asian and African Studies, Berlin 28-29 July 2016.
  • "Staging the State: 1970s Cairo, Nasr City and the Afterlives of Post-Independence Futures ", Utopian Urban Futures: Histories, imaginations, possibilities, Leeds, 27-28 June 2016.
  • Co-organiser: (Dis)Assembling State Space: Conceptualising new geometries of power, 3rd political geography graduate conference, University of Warwick 19-20 May, 2016. (with: Mara Duer, Maria Eugenia Giraudo, Javier Moreno Zacares and Antonio Ferraz De Oliveira).
  • Guest Lecturer, Seminar: "The Ideal City: Cairo, modernity and politics", Center for Political Research & Studies and Intercultural Dialogue (CPRSID) , Cairo University, 13 April 2016.
  • "Public Spaces of Memory: Contested Visualizations of Absence", RC21 Conference 2015, The Ideal City: between myth and reality: Representations, policies, contradictions and challenges for tomorrow's urban life, Urbino (Italy), 27-29 August, 2015.
  • "Public Spaces of Memory: Contested Visualizations of Absence in Cairo", BRISMES/EURAMES Joint Annual Conference 2015: Liberation?, London, LSE Middle East Center, 24-26 June, 2015
Before joining Warwick (selected)
  • "Creating a Field for Urban Activism: Networking for Urban Rights", Part of Panel: Newcomers in Activism: Social Movements and New Directions in Understanding Change in Egypt an ARI project on Social Movements, WOCMES 2014, Ankara (Turkey), 18-22 August, 2014.
  • "Public Spaces in 19th Century Cairo: Reading Hadith 'Isa bin Hisham" (In Arabic), Politics and Literature: problematizing authority, Faculty of Economics and Political Science, Cairo University, 26-27 March, 2013.
  • "Contesting Visions and Public Spaces in Cairo", The Egyptian Revolution, One Year On: Causes, Characteristics and Fortunes, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University, 18-19 May 2012.

Publications and Public Engagement:

Short Publications:

2017: "City Politics: Walking, Bodies and Space", Spring 2017 issue of the APSA MENA Newsletter, p. 7-9.

2016: "Cairo Tower and King Kong: Utopia, Nostalgia and Cairo’s Picture Archives", The Summer 2016 issue of the Postcolonial Studies Association Newsletter: #17 Postcolonial Cities, pp 14-16.

2015: Contributor to Cairobserver's print issue (5) on The University. ( In Arabic). Four co-authored articles:

1) "Bridging Urbanity: The Neighbourhoods Workshop in Retrospect" with Sarah Asseel,

2) "The In-betweeness of Bein El-Sarayat" with Ahmed Borham and AbdulRahman El-Taliawi,

3) "The Ruin Next Door: Al-Ahram Brewery" with Ahmed Borham,

4) "Searching for Another Space: 5 Years for Diwan in Cairo University" with Abeer Rabei.

Guest posts on blogs:

4/4/2017: To Walk the World: Reflections on Not Attending the International Studies Association Convention, The Sociological Review.

8/5/2015: Signs for ‘Ramsis Mall’ and Cairo Station on Cairobserver.

23/4/2015: Architecture as counter hegemonic practice: Political Theory and Architecture in Conversation - Review, on Drawing Parallels.

Selected Public Presentations and Events:

5/7/2014: "The City as Politics", Rollercoasting the city x13, curated by Ahmed Zaazaa, Mohamed Hassan, Kareem Nems, Megawra.

23/12/2013: "Egypt's revolution and memory of place" panel, "The right to the city and Public space” initiative, hosted by EIPR.


A dot M dot I dot Nassar at warwick dot ac dot uk

I tweet on @A_M_Nassar (both in English and Arabic)

I blog on my margins, and I keep my profile updated.