Deliberately not Empty: Reading Cairo's Unknown Soldier Monument

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


The relatively short history of Cairo's Unknown Soldier monument not only reminds us that national monuments, however “eternal” they may appear to many who grew up with them and were taught to believe in a ‘natural’ connection between the symbol and its referent, are always works in progress. These texts are being written, sometimes erased, and always appropriated and overwritten by other contemporaries and in subsequent generations. It also points to the different layers of historical signification that may reside in one and the same symbol: while it seems likely that the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, because of its central element for contemporary Egyptian identity (representing the biggest Arab military victory over Israel, at least as Egyptians see it) will remain an important national symbol for Egyptians in the future; it has already changed its symbolic valuation several times in barely three decades. Moreover, even in its original form, in 1975, it was already a variant of a tradition, since it combined the concept of the “Unknown Soldier” monument with that of another, the commemorative mural.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMaterial Evidence and Narrative Sources
Subtitle of host publicationInterdisciplinary Studies of the History of the Muslim Middle East
EditorsDaniella Talmon-Heller, Katia Cytryn-Silverman
PublisherBrill Academic Publishers
Number of pages17
ISBN (Electronic)9789004271593
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2015

Publication series

NameIslamic History and Civilization

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Anthropology


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