Maha ABDEL MEGEED recently submitted her doctoral thesis titled ‘Khayālῑ Textuality as Historical Urgency: al-Muwayliḥῑ’s Ḥadῑth ‘ῑsa ’Ibn Hishām and the long 1890s’ for examination at the department of the Near and Middle East, SOAS, University of London. She completed her MA at King’s College London in the department of Comparative Literature. She graduated from AUC with a major in English and Comparative Literature and a minor in philosophy. Her research interests include the history of conceptual thought in Arabic, and the possibility of deploying it to re-think the history of capitalism and modernity. Her other obsessions include: delving into archives, going to plays, listening to music, and discovering old films though most of her time is spent getting lost in an attempt to go to any of these places.
Hala BARAKAT has a Ph.D. in Paleoecology from the University of Aix-Marseille III, France. She worked as a lecturer at Cairo University 1995-2000 and acted as deputy director at the Center for Documentation of Cultural and Natural Heritage (CULTNAT) affiliated to the Library of Alexandria. She was in charge of the documentation of the natural heritage program as well as supervising the photographic heritage, folkloric heritage and musical heritage programs at CULTNAT (2000-2012). In January 2013, Hala joined the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) as a part time researcher on the issues of “Right to Food” and “Food Sovereignty” in Egypt. She is also a founding member and former president of Nature Conservation Egypt (NCE) a non profit organization active in the field of conservation of endangered species and habitats and raising awareness to environmental issues in Egypt. Hala is also a certified Sivananda Yoga teacher and master. As a trained botanist, she has long had deep interest and knowledge in Naturopathy, Homeopathy and vegetarianism which complement her interest in yoga as a lifestyle.
Yvonne BUCHHEIM is interested in exploring the role of art within the everyday and engaging her audiences in unexpected ways through participation and observation. As an artist and academic she is passionate about observing the world through drawing. She grew up in socialist East-Germany. After the collapse of the Berlin Wall she went on to pursue an undergraduate degree in Communication Design in Munich and a Master’s of Fine Art at the University of Ulster in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her enthusiasm for teaching developed through postgraduate studies in Teaching Higher Education as well as teaching Drawing and Applied Arts at the University of the West of England for ten years. In 2012 she moved to Cairo where she has taught at AUC and has pursued her interdisciplinary art practice in public and social projects. She has been awarded residencies and commissions in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany, USA, Iran, and Egypt. Most recently she completed the Spring Sessions Artist Residency in Amman, Jordan. At CILAS, Yvonne coordinates the field of study Arts and Culture.
Karim-Yassin GOESSINGER studied political philosophy, social anthropology and urban theory in the Netherlands, Brazil and France. He has worked with a range of development agencies in Latin America and the Middle East in fields including micro-finance, informal housing and local governance. In addition to his strong interest in social theories of space and political theory, Karim-Yassin is passionate about designing educational experiences. A Dalai Lama Fellow, he enjoys martial arts, language, world music and tea. After his graduate studies at Sciences Po Paris, he set out to create the Cairo Institute of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS). As a fellow at CILAS, he coordinates the field of study Natural Sciences and co-directs the yearlong study programme in the liberal arts.
I-Kai JENG is currently finishing his PhD in Philosophy and MA in Classics at Boston University. His dissertation "Knowledge and Logos in Plato's Sophist" discusses the role language plays in the process of learning. Previously he obtained his MA degree in Philosophy back in his hometown of Taipei from the National Taiwan University with a thesis on Max Scheler's phenomenology of emotions as the foundation of ethics. I-Kai also works as a freelance translator of academic works, including translations of Foucault's Fearless Speech and Norbert Elias's Über die Zeit into Chinese Mandarin. Being devoted to the Socratic spirit of philosophizing, he is always game for conversations about existentialism, the crisis of modernity, sociology, political philosophy, or questions of translation. When he has free time, he watches movies and plays tennis, takes pictures with his cameras, or practices paper folding (origami).
Yasmin KHALAFALLAH recently obtained her Master’s Degree from UCL’s Development Planning Unit where she looked at the linkages between development theories and practices, with a focus on the political, social and economic factors underlying environmental conflicts. Before her Master's, Yasmin studied economics in Cairo and has previously worked as a research analyst on African economies. Her research interests are urban farming, climate change adaptation practices, urban resilience and bottom up development initiatives. She has field experience working with communities in Egypt, Peru and Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Dina MAKRAM-EBEID is an anthropologist who is passionate about poetry, cooking and social and ecological justice. She holds an MSc in Anthropology and Development (2007) and a PhD in Social Anthropology (2013) from the London School of Economics. Dina was a post-doctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology and is a fellow at the Humboldt University in Berlin. Her long-term fieldwork was with workers in an Egyptian steel complex. Her recent research focuses on the emotional and affective aspects of labour and resistance. The intimate discussions she had with friends, comrades and strangers about the psychological states they experienced recently in Egypt inspired her to formulate her thematic course. Dina hopes that identifying political histories of pain and trauma will enable alternative possibilities for healing. This interest in mental health journeys thus encouraged her to explore creative and collective paths to healing. By continuing to merge anthropological work with art-based initiatives, Dina aspires to create media for people to connect, explore outlawed emotions and express the rich human experience.
Sara-Duana MEYER has been a cultural producer, literary scholar, curator, bartender, gardener, and writer, among other things. Intrigued by interdisciplinary approaches and fascinated by the in-between, she has conceived, curated and managed various cultural and artistic projects in Europe and the MENA region and has taught literature, cultural theory, cultural management and visual studies in Germany, India, Iraq, and Egypt. Recently she has been focussing on writing about all of these topics and more. She has a thing for mega cities and urban culture and, being the hopeless optimist she is, strongly believes in the possibilities of resistance and art. She also believes in composting, animal rights, and soap bubbles, and teaches yoga.
Wiebe RUIJTENBERG graduated from the Research Master in the Social Sciences at the University of Amsterdam with a dissertation on gated communities in Cairo’s satellite cities. Using ethnography in his dissertation, he explored the ways in which residents shape their gated community, while being shaped by it at the same time. Wiebe’s research interests include notions of urban space, the process of identity formation, and the politics of culture. He is especially inspired by ethnography, as a research method, a form of art, and a way of seeing and writing the world. As a way of doing ethnography, Wiebe cycles around Cairo trying to sense and understand the city as he navigates it. Wiebe joins CILAS as a visiting fellow in the field of social sciences and will host the thematic course the urban experience: an ethnographic approach.
Sara SALEM is a PhD candidate at the Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University, in the Netherlands. She is working on the 2011 Egyptian revolution from the perspective of critical political economy, and uses Marxism as a lens through which to understand the shifts happening across the Middle East and Africa today. She is half Egyptian and half Dutch, and grew up in Zambia, a place she still considers home. Her hobbies include postcolonialism, feminism, Marxism, and other conspiracies, and when she isn’t reading you can find her either baking or enjoying a coffee.