Resala - A Message about Giving: Charity, Youth Voluntarism and an Emerging Imaginary of Egypt

Sara Lei Sparre

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingArticle in proceedingsResearchpeer-review


Focusing on the time both before and after the Egyptian revolution, this paper explores the formation
of a specific imaginary of Egypt among middle class youth engaged in charitable activities in the youth
organization, Resala. Through the case studies of two young female volunteers, I present examples
of how participation in Resala’s activities simultaneously exposes volunteers to and engages them
in the production of a certain imaginary of Egyptian society, an imaginary of an imperfect society
that can be improved through their voluntary effort. The experiences of the two women furthermore
reflect important differences and tendencies within the organization as a whole. These differences
tell us something about how the imaginary is understood and practiced in slightly different ways,
but more importantly, they demonstrate how a shared imaginary has the potential of uniting young
people of various backgrounds and experiences. Although Resala was established with the explicit
purpose of assisting Egypt’s poor, I argue that Resala is also – and perhaps primarily – a space
where a new collective consciousness about Egyptian society was fostered, a consciousness which
somehow has prepared these young people for the Egyptian revolution.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTakaful 2012 : Second Annual Conference on Arab Philanthropy and Civic Engagement. Selected Research
Place of PublicationCairo
PublisherAUC Press
Publication date2013
Publication statusPublished - 2013
Externally publishedYes
EventTakaful 2012: Second Annual Conference on Arab Philanthropy and Civic Engagement - Cairo, Egypt
Duration: 10 Jun 201212 Jun 2012


ConferenceTakaful 2012

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