This article explores the ambiguity of familiar materialities and the relationships between material and affective experiences. Those flows and interactions are crucial sites for interrogating social meanings, valences, and effects of suspicion. It explores how politically active Cairenes navigate suspicious spaces, bodies, and nonliving things in the cityscape and how materiality shapes and is shaped by the emotional-aesthetic responses of individuals and groups to the stimuli it provides. In this specific context, the distinct form of what the author calls agential ambivalence, where feelings of control apply to tactics for managing surveillance and to reckless risk-taking are key. Agential ambivalence is required to “stay alive” in Cairo. The activists the author knows still take extreme risks and sometimes even make seemingly careless decisions. Ambivalence in face of suspicion is a given, but it takes specific shapes and dynamics.

You do not currently have access to this content.