To Be Seen: Nubian Displacement and en-gendered Resistance in 'Public' Space

Promotors: Els De Vos, Johan De Walsche

This research investigates how gender relations become manifest in the design, uses and representations of the built environment, particularly in the case of DIDR (Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement) a subset of forced migration, the end result for displaced communities is often the loss of livelihood and impoverishment. In case of state-operated resettlements, the built environment becomes one of the main factors of the life quality for displaced populations.)

Nubians in Egypt were early refugees of this scheme. This project takes the case of Nubians, an ancient civilization with a history of matriarchy, who lived in the area -now- between Egypt and Sudan. Nubians were moved by the Aswan High Dam in 1964, to a high modernist housing project planned and built by the Egyptian state, which could accommodate 50,000 Nubian families. The state named this project “New Nubia”, but Nubians refused to used that term and instead expressed their aversity towards the project by calling it “Tahgeer” meaning displacement.

This project looks through the lens of Nubians at their settlement or so called “Tahgeer”, in order to understand 1) how the built environment offered by the Egyptian state has contributed to marginalization of Nubians, and the disenfranchisement of women? 2) and how did Nubians, especially Nubian women, resist through built interventions and spatial practices, that contributed in empowering the Nubian cultural institution? and 3) which lessons can we draw from these practices in order to refine our current understanding of public and private spaces and gendered drives of spatial production?