Basic concept of the project: Regional diversity, multi-perspective views
Why regional diversity in Egypt?
The term“regional diversity”indicates a reconsideration of the conventional view of Egypt as a hydraulic society, instead considering Egypt not as a homogeneous society but as a complex society composed of various regions that are related to each other.
Egypt is well known to be a hydrological society that depends on the Nile. As such, an image of Egypt as a centralized society has emerged. A corollary of this is the rural-urban dichotomy.
Such a simplistic view has especially influenced literature on the Egyptian society economy. In the studies on poverty, migration, and employment, For example, in the studies on the key topics of the Egyptian society such as migration economy, rural areas have been regarded as having considerable poverty, with limited job opportunities and out-migration. The urban areas, on the other hand, are seen as affluent, with job opportunities and in-migration.
The result outcome of this emphasis on the rural-urban dichotomy divide is neglect of the regional perspective. Indeed, the studies on Egypt generally use only one regional distinction, that of Lower and Upper Egypt. Yet, the adequacy of these regional categories as socioeconomic categories has not been examined. Explanations of the regional differences have been limited to political/cultural aspects.
Therefore, our project critically examine the simplistic view of Egyptian society as a homogeneous society, especially the rural-urban dichotomy, by employing the concept of region as an analytical framework.
What is meant by multi-perspective views?
The phrase “multi-perspective views” signifies the multi-disciplinary combination of an analysis based on methodological individualism and the communal approach, using different data and information.
The simplistic view of Egypt in previous literature as a hydrological society is, from the viewpoint of materials for study, due to the lack of empirical data on the individual or household level and of reliable maps. Other major reasons are the difficulty of conducting social surveys, mainly because of military and security restrictions
Fortunately, these constraints on study lessened after the introduction of the open economic policy in the 1980s. Surveys in urban and rural areas are now becoming easier, and in a better environment the empirical studies can be examined using many different materials and methods.
The materials used and collected in this project are:
(1) historical documents and legal texts,
(2) statistics published by government and other official sources,
(3) micro data collected through surveys,
(4) geographical information.