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Title: Cultural shifts in domestic configurations : decoding transformations in privacy conventions for Cairene middle & low-income dwelling units from the late 17th to the mid 20th C
Author: Ibraheem, Mostafa A-Y.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2724 6430
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2010
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This study investigates sample plans of Cairene dwellings from the late 17th to the mid 20th century; a period which witnessed Egypt's first exposure to the West through the French Expedition of 1798 followed by major socio-economic and urban transformations during the 19th century. These broader changes have managed to transform Cairo from a traditional medieval city to a modern metropolitan city. The main purpose of this study is to explore whether Cairene dwellings designed after Western intervention in the early 20th century have represented a break or rupture with the traditional Cairene domestic architecture. Utilizing the concept of privacy as a vehicle to examine differentiation in conventions across time, the study investigates the relative hold to conventions for two socio-economic groups; the emergent middleincome occupational group, and the low-income labourers. Samples of the 19th and 20th century are compared with the reference period of the 17th 1181h century to assess change. The central assumption underlying the research methodology is that cultural ideas are present in both the spatial organization of plans, and the way these plans are used by inhabitants. The research has developed a methodology that takes into account the combined effect of utilizing space and time in assessing socio-cultural implications of sample plans. Three categories of encounter are considered; the inhabitants encounter with strangers outside, with each other, and with their visitors within the dwelling unit. The key findings of this study are twofold; methodological and empirical. The method employed could become a research tool for others who might be studying quite different issues in quite different times and places. As for the empirical investigation, results have indicated no rupture at the higher structural level of the dwelling's spatial and behavioural organization; Cairene dwellings are found to be hierarchically organized into clusters of activities of various levels of privacy connected by a branching system. At the local level of the activities' interaction in space and time, results have indicated the existence of local ruptures with respect to the dwelling's relation with strangers outside, and with guests within the dwelling unit. The inhabitants' encounter with each other reveals the minimum level of cultural maintenance. Overall, Cairene dwellings of the 1 st half of the 20th century are found to be midway between maintenance of privacy conventions and total rupture. With respect to the comparative relation between the two income samples, empirical results indicate significant spatial differences across time in terms of the dwelling's size (metric area and number of spaces), and the status of all spatial indices of privacy. In terms of behaviour, results indicated common behavioural attitudes during the 18th century with respect to the three categories of encounter, but the emergence of a significant social gap in the early 20th century. Limitations of the study and future extensions of the research in terms of method and scope are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available