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Ramadan in Modern Cairo. Young female’s leisure patterns and the politics of piety, unity and authenticity

21 October 2010

PhD ceremony: Ms. N.M. Saad Aly, 14.45 uur, Academiegebouw, Broerstraat 5, Groningen

Thesis: Ramadan in Modern Cairo. Young female’s leisure patterns and the politics of piety, unity and authenticity

Promotor(s): prof. F. Leemhuis

Faculty: Theology and Religious Studies


Nirvana Saad’s thesis analyses shifts in affluent young women’s leisure behavior with the advent of Ramadan, and contestations surrounding those practices. She focuses on contestations pertaining to Ramadan leisure practices as points of crystallization for more crucial issues in contemporary Egyptian society. The results of this research point to the cultural politics surrounding Ramadan leisure practices in contemporary Cairo. It examines the contested roles and understandings for the definition of religion, authentic traditions, gender roles and social justice in modern times.

Ramadan has become a highly commercial month where the attainment and expression of piety and global consumption go hand in hand. Piety is embedded in, and shaped by global consumerist discourses, which, in turn, are adapted to match the desire for piety. For the young affluent women, consumption has become an important self-technique to construct and experience a religious self. This is particularly apparent in their high consumption of Islamic commodities during the fasting month.

The collective, religious and charitable nature of the holy month slows the pace of life and encourages social cohesion. During Ramadan, youngsters engage more in family leisure activities, mingle with the local community and invest more time in philanthropic projects. The collective nature of Ramadan leisure may, particularly, serve as a source of empowerment for women.

Finally, the quest for authenticity becomes particularly intense during the fasting month. Ramadan is the time for people to re-enchant their world, through reviving what they perceive as original forms of their religious and cultural heritage.


Last modified:15 September 2017 3.40 p.m.
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