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Masculine love and sensuous reason: the affective and spatial politics of Egyptian Ultras football fans

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This article uses a feminist spatial approach attentive to masculine affect and difference to analyze the language, cultural production, and practices of the two largest Ultras football fan groups in Egypt – White Knights (affiliated with Zamalek Sporting Club) and Ahlawy (affiliated with Al-Ahly Sporting Club) – both established in 2007. Egyptian Ultras cultivate embodied passion, joy, love and anger. By excluding girls and women, the Ultras reflect the sexism that permeates Egyptian social and political life. However, sexism does not appear to be the most important reason for Ultras homosociality and misogyny is not particularly relevant to their practices and cultural oeuvre. The Ultras do not encourage sexual attacks on girls and women, let alone boys and men, and explicitly discourage sectarianism and racism. Ultras groups in Egypt, I contend, offer a masculine alternative to a government that represents itself as a militarist ‘factory of men’. As they battle state efforts to control space and reinforce the dominant order, their practices challenge rationality/affect and mind/body binaries, as well as divisions between street/stadium and corporate/commons. Informed by fieldwork in Egypt, the article uses semiotic and discursive methods to analyze hundreds of Ultras’ images, songs, chants, Facebook pages, and live performances on multiple sites, as well as scholarly sources in Arabic and English and a book-length Arabic account about the Ultras in Egypt by the founder of the Ultras White Knights.
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Keywords: Egyptian Ultras fans; homosociality; love; masculinity; transnational Ultras fans

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies, Department of History, Department of Sociology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA

Publication date: October 3, 2018

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