Coffee Hour: A Space and Time for Giving: Islamic Charitable Practices in Cairo

Friday, February 28, 2014 - 3:30pm to 5:00pm
3:30 p.m. Refreshments are offered in the E. Willard Miller seminar room, 319 Walker Building 4:00 p.m. The lecture begins in the John J. Cahir Auditorium, 112 Walker Building

A Space and Time for Giving: Islamic Charitable Practices in Cairo

About the talk 

Islamic charities played an incredibly important role in Mubarak-era Egypt. While there are numerous types and activities of these organizations, I describe a particular type of work performed by Islamic charities as merging of religious and capitalist subjectivity, or pious neoliberalism. Pious neoliberalism describes how Islamism works in conjunction with neoliberalism rather than as an alternative to it. It represents a new compatibility between business and piety that is not specific to any religion, but rather is a result of the ways in which religion and economy interact in the contemporary moment. In Egypt, pious neoliberalism produces new institutions, systems of knowledge production and subjectivities. In this talk, I will discuss the relationship between Islamic charity and Egypt’s complex religious landscape. I argue that Islamic charities helped spread Islamic practices outside the space of the mosque and into everyday life/spaces. I will describe Egypt’s culture of giving and analyze the month of Ramadan as a heighten space and time for giving.


Suggested reading

• Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt:

• Atia, Mona, 2012. “A Way to Paradise”: Pious Neoliberalism, Islam, and Faith-Based Development, vol 102.4:808:


About the speaker

Mona AtiaMona Atia is an assistant professor of geography and international affairs at the George Washington University. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Washington, an M.Sc. from the London School of Economics and B.S. from the University of California at Berkeley. She is author of Building a House in Heaven: Pious Neoliberalism and Islamic Charity in Egypt  (University of Minnesota Press, 2013). She has been awarded the 2010 International Society of Third-Sector Research (ISTR) Emerging Scholar Dissertation Award of Merit, the University of Washington 2008 Distinguished Dissertation Award and a Global Cultures Quadrant Non-Resident Visiting Scholar award  at the Institute for Advanced Studies, University of Minnesota. Her work has also appeared in the Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Social and Cultural Geography, the Journal of Islamic and Near Eastern Law, and Environment and Planning D: Society and Space. Her next research project examines the politics of knowledge production about poverty, focusing on the production, use and impact of poverty mapping in Egypt and Morocco.


Questions for the speaker or about Coffee Hour? (Angela Rogers)