Decrypting Copts’ Perspectives on Communal Relations in Contemporary Egypt through Vernacular Politics (2013–2014)
IDS Working Paper 456
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The study of vernacular allows for an examination of multiple forms of citizen voice, agency and embedded relations that contribute to understandings of securities and insecurities in highly distinct ways.
This paper shows how the study of the vernacular contributed to decrypting the seeming paradox of how the Copts, Egypt’s largest non-Muslim minority, experienced high levels of sectarian violence after 2013, yet reported an improvement in social status and social relations in comparison to the year under the reign of President Morsi. It identifies nine different ways in which securities/insecurities were conceptualised among Copts.
The paper argues that by examining these vernacular conceptions, it is possible to explain what accounts for the discrepancy between the elitists’ accounts of Copt support for authoritarianism and the differentiated, nuanced perspectives and positions on the ground. While such experiences are local, they shed light on shifting national and global configurations of power and forewarn of the kind of drivers that would serve as tipping points towards Coptic dissent.