Contemporary Islam

, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp 251–270

Boredom and despair in rural Egypt


DOI: 10.1007/s11562-008-0065-8

Cite this article as:
Schielke, S. Cont Islam (2008) 2: 251. doi:10.1007/s11562-008-0065-8


Boredom is a key experience in the lives of many young people in contemporary rural Egypt. With its calm, predictable rhythm of life offering little excitement and surprises, village life is intrinsically monotonic. But monotony as such does not necessarily bore people. It is turned into intense boredom and despair by the presence of strong but unfulfilled aspirations for a better and more exciting life. Boredom and attempts to escape it form an experience and a discourse of life that stand in a strong albeit often unstated contrast to the ideology of Islamic revival. With the stated purposeless and pointlessness of the discourse on boredom, not only the forms of entertainment, but also the very position of entertainment towards the grand projects of religious revival and nationalist progress appears in a different light that fits in neither the secularist tradition of arts and entertainment nor their revivalist contestation and reinterpretation.


BoredomDespairRural EgyptEntertainment

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of JoensuuJoensuuFinland
  2. 2.ISIMLeidenthe Netherlands