Omar Nagati is a practicing architect and urban planner, and the co-founder of CLUSTER, an urban design and research platform downtown Cairo. Having graduated from Cairo University, he studied and taught at UBC, Vancouver and UC Berkeley. Nagati adopts an interdisciplinary approach to urban history and design, and engages in empirical research and critical mapping of urban informality. He teaches part-time Urban Design Studio at the MSA University in Giza and is currently a visiting professor at the University of Sheffield, UK.
The question does not seem to be mutually exclusive: In principle, society’s reclamation of public sphere is a necessary means to reboot democracy. However, in most societies today, public sphere has been hijacked by either authoritarian states or neoliberal forces. As revolutionary moments are not attainable in the near future, civil society groups are left with reformist strategies and subversive tactics of negotiation. Stuck between right-wing ideologies, of market and religious fundamentalism, of state’s and extremists’ violence, it is imperative to carve out and articulate a third space that is progressive and inclusive, mediating idealist vision through grounded practice.