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From Fox Meadows to Spring Valley

By John Overington


As we progress through this journey of discovery, every port we drop anchor, the shipboard community is bombarded with evidence of an epic battle that is taking place through the mass media and the vehicles of globalization that most students/staff etc. never even acknowledge.  The billboards and advertisements that make each citizen of Egypt desire other worldly things like ipods and designer homes with compound walls and gardens, are reshaping the social context of Cairo.  The transnational actors that are the media and capitalist ventures in and around Cairo are selling a new product to emerging Egyptians like never before.  According to Petra Kuppinger in her article “Exclusive Greenery: New Gated Communities in Cairo," gated communities and the lifestyles that they are supposed to be able to provide is becoming a hot commodity, and this contemporary type of living are popping up in one of the oldest societies in the history of the world.  The fertile valley of the Nile river is seeing the mass production of gated communities for the emerging middle class of Egypt, one that absolutely exemplifies the complex relationship between vernacular and transnational factors in today’s global cities.  The construction companies are the transnational actors in this case, and the traditional lifestyle of Egyptians is the vernacular.  The gated communities are using all of their most powerful and potent weapons of persuasion to move citizens from their homes in Cairo, to “estate” homes on the outskirts.  The transnational builders are employing the full arsenal of influence to convince the Egyptians that living in a large house outside the city is the new lush life.

One of the most interesting parts of this package that the builders are trying to sell to the Egyptian society are the names that the communities are being given.  These new communities look and sound like they have been transplanted straight from the suburbs of Washington D.C.  The names range from the amusing to the absolutely absurd, as Kuppinger describes.  Mirage City, Royal Hills, Gardenia Park, Paradise Park, Palm Hills, Spring Valley, Moon Land, and the quaintly French, Belle Ville, are the types of names that these construction companies have decided to use for their new communities.  The most hysterical and seemingly outrageous name for a community of this nature is one that is planned to be constructed called Dreamland.  What more could one want in a name?  It’s the place where your elite Egyptian dreams come true.  This community is particularly interesting, because as Kuppinger goes on to explain, the golf course plans to boast its fantastic views of the Pyramids of Giza.  The use of attractiveness of vernacular sights like the Pyramids in the advertisement of a transnational community, is saturated with this clash of old and new.  The transnational actor is using the most attractive part of the old vernacular as a tool to further their transnational cause.  This “new standard of residential living” and all of the marketing that is coupled with the sale of these new homes exemplify the clash and exploitation of the vernacular by the transnational.  The new tools that are at the disposal of transnational actors, like the ever influential media, are being used to bring Egyptian society to a new way of life, one in which poor and rich are more sharply divided than ever before, and the vernacular and Transnationalism are muddled together.

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