Jessica Winegar

2003 Ph.D. in Anthropology, New York University
2001 M.Phil. (with distinction) in Anthropology, New York University
1995 M.A. in Anthropology, New York University
1993 B.A. (summa cum laude) in Anthropology, University of Pennsylvania

Winegar currently serves as an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Northwestern University.  At Northwestern University she teaches courses on: State and Subject, Anthropology of the Middle East, Middle Eastern Popular Culture, Art and Material Culture, and Culture and Consumption.  Winegar is also a founding member of the Task Force for Middle East Anthropology, a group dedicated to increasing the relevance, visibility, and application of anthropological perspectives on the Middle East.

Topics of Study
Winegar’s research interests include: cultural politics and culture industries, material and visual culture, nationalism, religion, social class, youth, gender, the politics of anthropology, anthropological theory, Middle East and North Africa.

Her first book, Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt, was published in 2006. She is currently working on two new books.  One of the new books, which is tentatively titled Culturing Youth: Democracy, Creativity, and Development in the Middle East, tracks the rise, successes, and challenges of state and NGO cultural development programs directed towards poor and working class youth in Egypt.

Winegar is also writing, with anthropologist Lara Deeb, a book entitled Anthropology’s Politics: Discipline and Region through the Lens of the Middle East.  This book examines the post-Cold War Middle East and looks at how anthropologists have responded to the confluence of shifts in intellectual thought, the corporatization of the university, the militarization of knowledge, and the “War on Terror” in ways that reshape the relationship between discipline and region.

Winegar has also published numerous scholarly and popular articles on Middle Eastern visual arts and artists, North African visual culture, U.S. consumption of Middle Eastern arts, U.S. and media coverage of the Middle East.

Her articles have appeared in American Ethnologist, Cultural Anthropology, Anthropological Quarterly, Review of Middle East Studies, Middle East Report, Contemporary Practices, Critical Interventions and online at Jadaliyya and ArteEast.

Summaries of Relevant Scholarly Articles
“The Privilege of Revolution: Gender, Class, Space, and Affect in Cairo.” American Ethnologist.  2012.

In this article, Winegar discusses how the iconic image of the revolutionary in the Egyptian revolution is that of a young man.  Suggesting that the dominance of this image is problematic since it excludes the experiences of other people involved in the uprising.  She discusses how she was in Egypt during the start of the revolution and many foreign academics and journalists asked her about the role of women in the revolution.  While she did not personally go to Tahrir during the start of the revolution because she had to take care of her child and was afraid of the threat of violence and antiforeigener rhetoric in the state media,  Winegar argues that fieldwork on major political events should also take place in the home since it allows researchers to track the effect of revolutions on day-to-day practices.  She states that, “These practices, far from public centers of protest, are not as dramatic and moving as the fervent, demonstrative, and, at times, celebratory calls for dignity, social justice, and freedom, that ring out in places like Tahrir. But everyday domestic experiences are crucial for the public staging of claims to these abstract principles and their potential (always partial) realization in the aftermath of dramatic events.”

The article discusses the role of women in the revolution including the actions of women activists, as well as the actions by women who were not in the news who cooked for the activists, donated medical supplies for them, and took care of the houses and children of people who were protesting and concludes by stating, “The women and men who could not go to Tahrir constitute the hidden majority, which will ideally continue the revolution in the coming years.  Focusing on only the iconic revolutionary–and, by extension, iconic notions of revolution–means missing the myriad everyday ways that social transformation is experienced, enabled, and perhaps impeded, always in relationship to space, gender and class”.

Winegar has received grants and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, American Council of Learned Societies, Social Science Research Council, Fulbright, and the Mellon Foundation.  She has participated in postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California at Berkeley, Cornell University, and the School for Advanced Research.

Selected Publications
Creative Reckonings: The Politics of Art and Culture in Contemporary Egypt. Stanford University Press, 2006.
Winner of the 2007 Albert Hourani Book Award, given by the Middle East Studies Association for the best book in Middle East studies, and the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award from the Arts Council of the African Studies Association.

Forthcoming      “The Politics of Middle East Anthropology,” Annual Review of Anthropology, Volume 12, 2012.  Co-authored with Lara Deeb.

2012   “The Privilege of Revolution: Gender, Class, Space, and Affect in Cairo.”American Ethnologist 39(1), 67-70.

2011    “Taking Out the Trash: Youth Clean Up Egypt After Mubarak,” MiddleEast Report 259:32-35To be reprinted in 2012 in Revolution, Protest and Social Change in Egypt, 1999-2011 (Verso).

2011      “Egypt: A Multigenerational Revolt,” Jadaliyya,

2010    “Culture is the Solution: The Civilizing Mission of the Egyptian State,” Review of Middle East Studies 43(2):189-197.

2010    “The Culture Concept in Political Struggle,” Introduction to Special Section, co-edited and co-authored with Amahl Bishara.  Review of Middle East Studies 43(2):164-167.

2009     “The Question of Africanity in North African Visual Culture,” Special issue of Critical Interventions:  Journal of African Art History and Visual Culture, Issue 5.  Co-edited with Katarzyna Pieprzak.  Co-authored introductory essay entitled “Africa North, South, and In Between.”

2008    “Purposeful Art Between Television Preachers and the State,” ISIM Review (International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World) 22:28-29.

2008    “The Humanity Game: Art, Islam, and the War on Terror,”Anthropological Quarterly, 81(3):651-681.

2006    “Cultural Sovereignty in a Global Art Economy: Egyptian Cultural Policy and the New Western Interest in Art from the Middle East,” Cultural Anthropology 21(2):173-204.

2005     “Of Chadors and Purple Fingers: U.S. Visual Media Coverage of the Iraqi Elections,” Feminist Media Studies 5(3):391-395.

Click here to read about Jessica Winegar’s book and radio appearances.