Announcement  |  2014

Research Program on Global Health & Human Rights

"All Eyes on Egypt:
Religion and the Medical Use of Dead Bodies Amidst Cairo's Political Unrest"  

a public lecture by

Sherine Hamdy, PhD
Brown University

DATE: Thursday, November 6th, 2014
TIME: 3:30pm- 5:00pm
LOCATION: Laurel Hall 302, Storrs Campus

This talk explores the contemporary phenomenon of mass eye trauma and cornea donation in Egypt to ask: How, and when, can “religion” as an analytical category help explain political and social events?

Injuries to the eye became a regular feature of Egypt’s popular uprisings, which began in 2011. In response to the riot police’s violence against protesters, including the targeting of their eyes, a group of young doctors calling themselves ‘Atibaa`Uyun al-Thawra (“The Revolution’s Eye Doctors”) began a well-received cornea donation campaign on social media. Within hours, hundreds of people signed up to donate their body parts after their death. This talk asks: What made arguments about giving up body parts in death for the sake of the living compelling in Egypt now, when they had not been so in the past?  Did the revolutionaries’ “secular” movement inspire new attitudes toward the human body, and toward death? The talk will explore how dominant “secular vs. religious” narratives mischaracterize both Egyptian popular politics and the ways in which medical and health issues are experienced and lived.  
Dr. Sherine Hamdy is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Brown University and author of Our Bodies Belong to God: Organ Transplants, Islam, and the Struggle for Human Dignity in Egypt (University of California Press, 2012), which won Honorable Mention from the Clifford Geertz Prize of the Society for the Anthropology of Religion in 2013. She is currently collaborating with Professor Soha Bayoumi (Harvard, History of Science) on a project called Doctors of the Revolution, on the role of medics in Cairo’s political uprisings, and authoring another project called Reframing Islamic Bioethics.

Co-sponsored by Middle East Studies, the Medical Anthropology Forum, &
the Department of Anthropology

For more information about this event, contact Dr. Sarah Willen at

For more information about the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights, click here.

To request reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities, and for any other questions regarding this event, please contact Lyndsay Nalbandian at

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