Shark Tank Seminar 1

Presenter: Researcher: Wael Ossama Al-Soukkary and Interrogator Shark: Piers Locke
  • Date: Friday, 16 March 2018 to Friday, 16 March 2018
  • Time: 03:00PM to 04:00PM
  • Location: Room 251 Psychology Building, Ilam Campus, University of Canterbury
  • Ticket: Free

The Department of Sociology and Anthropology warmly invite you to Shark Tank Seminar 1, the first in a seminar series which aims to facilitate deeper engagement with new research than traditional presentations. Those participating in the feeding frenzy will have read the full paper before the event. The researcher will face an Interrogator Shark whose role will be to prise open the paper. The researcher will have a chance to speak in defence before the circling sharks have an opportunity to feast on their prey. Our first ‘seal’ will be Anthropology PhD student Wael Ossama Al-Soukkary who has bravely volunteered to enter the tank. Copies of Wael’s paper are available from Lyndon Fraser (

Homosexuality in Egypt: Religion, State and Limits of Accommodative Practices

Despite the increasing significance of traditional notions of Islamic morality to most Egyptians and to almost all aspects of Egypt’s social life, Egypt is characterized by a diverse cultural heritage and a pluralistic society. Within this rich cultural context, some social practices, lifestyles and activities that do not necessarily conform to the traditional standards of Islamic piety are accepted and relatively tolerated. Nevertheless, the acceptance of homosexuality remains to be beyond the moral capacity of Egyptian society in accommodating categorically impious behavior and lifestyles, which is evident in the state’s prosecution of homosexuals and the extreme stigma associated with homosexuality. In this paper I argue that traditional religious views on homosexuality largely inform public opinion, which provides the state with the moral authority to perform its role as a religious actor. The state orchestrates and utilizes moral panics surrounding problematic social minorities to legitimize its religious authority and to thwart international pressure on improving its human rights record by constructing a discourse of national identity that emphasizes a notion of authentic Egyptian identity that has no place for these minorities. Finally, I argue that the social stigma associated with homosexuality and the prosecution of homosexuals in Egypt could be better understood through analyzing the ways by which Egyptians conform to and deviate from Islamic piety particularly because it highlights the problematic aspects of homosexuality not only with regards to religious values but also, and more importantly, to the means by which many Egyptians navigate the tension between conforming to traditional notions of Islamic piety and modern life in general.

Researcher: Wael Ossama Al-Soukkary

Interrogator Shark: Piers Locke

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