Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-2439

Article | Open Access

Mediatizing Slum Relocation in Egypt: Between Legitimization and Stigmatization

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Abstract:  In Egypt, the relocation of residents of informal areas of housing into “proper” living environments is presented as a major political achievement offering citizens a much-improved quality of life. Therefore, it is not surprising that, following the Arab Uprisings, the current regime is widely publicizing relocation projects as success stories on TV and social media. As a way of garnering legitimization and securing stability, this official representation is reshaping the residents’ urban life and evoking narratives of slum dwellers’ transformation into respected citizens. Tackling a new area of interdisciplinary research between urban studies and media and communication studies, this article investigates the portrayal in mainstream media channels and social media platforms of two relocation projects (Al-Asmarat in Cairo and Al-Max in Alexandria), contrasting them with the residents’ perceptions of their new homes and their efforts to produce counter-imagery. The authors argue that both the state-dominated representation of the Al-Asmarat resettlement as an ideal solution to the crisis of informal settlements, as well as the more bottom-up construction of the Al-Max community as a picturesque fishing community, do not reflect the material experience of the inhabitants—despite it being presented as such in nationwide reporting. The effective centering of the public debate around the mediatized images has thus deflected criticism and enabled urban development projects to be positioned to legitimize the current rule despite the shortcomings of their implementation.

Keywords:  informal settlements; legitimization; mediatization; relocation; social media; urban development



© Hassan Elmouelhi, Martin Meyer, Reham Reda, Asmaa Abdelhalim. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.