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Chihab El Khachab

Associate Professor in Visual Anthropology

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I am a social anthropologist specializing in visual and media anthropology, with a focus on Egyptian media production. My first project consisted in an ethnographic study of the Egyptian film industry, with particular attention to labour dynamics, production practices, and the impact of digital technologies on filmmaking. Based on doctoral fieldwork in Cairo between 2013 and 2015, I examined how everyday labour and technological use can explain the process of cinematic creation as well as how filmmakers conceive and manage their unpredictable future. This research culminated in the publication of a monograph titled Making Film in Egypt: How Labor, Technology and Mediation Shape the Industry (American University in Cairo Press, 2021).

My current project combines historical and ethnographic methods to examine everyday bureaucratic practices at the Ministry of Culture (MOC) in Egypt. Based on archival and ethnographic fieldwork in Cairo between 2018 and 2019, I explore how MOC bureaucrats were instrumental in crafting a coherent state-idea through a range of writings, images, and administrative documents after national independence in 1952. I am also interested in exploring how the concept of “culture” is conceived as an object of government in this institutional setting.