Research seminar in cultural anthropology: Book talk: Egypt’s Football Revolution: Emotion, Masculinity, and Uneasy Politics

  • Date: –12:00
  • Location: Join Zoom Meeting
  • Lecturer: Carl Rommel, University of Helsinki
  • Organiser: Department of Cultural Anthropology and Ethnology
  • Contact person: Mats Utas
  • Seminarium

Both a symbol of the Mubarak government’s power and a component in its construction of national identity, football served as fertile ground for Egyptians to confront the regime’s overthrow during the 2011 revolution.
Carl Rommel is a social anthropologist. His doctoral research explored the emotional politics of Egyptian football before and after the January 2011 Revolution.

With the help of the state, appreciation for football in Egypt peaked in the late 2000s. Yet after Mubarak fell, fans questioned their previous support, calling for a reformed football for a new, postrevolutionary nation.

In Egypt’s Football Revolution, Carl Rommel examines the politics of football as a space for ordinary Egyptians and state forces to negotiate a masculine Egyptian chauvinism. Basing his discussion on several years of fieldwork with fans, players, journalists, and coaches, he investigates the increasing attention paid to football during the Mubarak era; its demise with the 2011 uprisings and 2012 Port Said massacre, which left seventy-two fans dead; and its recent rehabilitation. Cairo’s highly organized and dedicated Ultras fans became a key revolutionary force through their antiregime activism, challenging earlier styles of fandom and making visible entrenched ties between sport and politics. As the appeal of football burst, alternative conceptions of masculinity, emotion, and politics came to the fore to demand or prevent revolution and reform.

Carl Rommel is a social anthropologist, who earned his PhD from SOAS, University of London (2015). His doctoral research explored the emotional politics of Egyptian football before and after the January 2011 Revolution. Currently, Rommel is a postdoctoral research affiliate in the ERC-funded Crosslocations project at the University of Helsinki. He is also teaching anthropology at Stockholm University. His ongoing field research in Cairo interrogates intersections between precarity, masculinity, temporality and urban space in, around and through a variety of large and small ‘projects’ (mashari‘). Rommel’s research has been published in Critical African Studies, Middle East – Topics & Arguments, and Men and Masculinities. His first monograph, Egypt’s Football Revolution: Emotion, masculinity, and uneasy politics, was published with the University of Texas Press in July  2021.