The 2018 Middle East Section Student Paper Award Winner:
Noha Fikry (American University in Cairo), “Spaces of Life, States of Death.”
Based on one year of fieldwork in a number of multispecies-inhabited rooftops across Cairo and Alexandria, Fikry‘s paper examines the interplay of life and death as twin forces that are complementary, co-constitutive, and co-productive rather than merely opposed. In doing so, Fikry uncovers an innovative understanding of life-and-death as simultaneous and co-occurring. Both anthropological and ecological, Fikry‘s work does not offer a treatise on what life and death are or might be, but rather follows life-and-death as they unfold through the cacophonous social lives of humans and other species (such as goats, chickens, rabbits, and pigeons). In short, the paper asks: What does life-and-death do, and how? Describing life-and-death as different instances of “enfleshment,” Fikry‘s ethnography provides nuanced understanding of worlds as a continual circulation of flesh.