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Sara Lei Sparre

Resala - a Message about giving: Charity, youth volunteerism and an emerging imaginary of Egypt

Research output: Contribution to book/anthology/report/proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review

Focusing on the time both before and after the Egyptian revolution, this paper explores the formation of a specific imaginary of Egypt among middle class youth engaged in charitable activities in the youth organization, Resala. Through the case studies of two young female volunteers, I present examples of how participation in Resala’s activities simultaneously exposes volunteers to and engages them in the production of a certain imaginary of Egyptian society, an imaginary of an imperfect society that can be improved through their voluntary effort. The experiences of the two women furthermore reflect important differences and tendencies within the organization as a whole. These differences
tell us something about how the imaginary is understood and practiced in slightly different ways, but more importantly, they demonstrate how a shared imaginary has the potential of uniting young people of various backgrounds and experiences. Although Resala was established with the explicit purpose of assisting Egypt’s poor, I argue that Resala is also – and perhaps primarily – a space where a new collective consciousness about Egyptian society was fostered, a consciousness which somehow has prepared these young people for the Egyptian revolution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTakaful 2012 : The Second Annual Conference on Arab Philanthropy and Civic Engagement
Number of pages16
Place of publicationCairo
PublisherThe American University in Cairo Press
Publication year2012
Commissioning bodyDepartment of Anthropology, University of Copenhagen
Publication statusPublished - 2012

    Research areas

  • Egypt, youth, Islam, NGOs, civic engagement

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