Founded in 1999, Amkenah magazine is published by writer Alaa Khaled and photographer Salwa Rashad in Alexandria, Egypt.
Amkenah (“Places”) is concerned with “the poetics of place”: the people who live in, work at, and pass through places. A direct response to elitism, parochialism and conservatism in the literally scene in Egypt, as well as its Cairo’s centralism, it was born out of a search for a literary form that was more open and accessible. As such, it aims to re-forge a direct link between literature, art and culture on the one hand and life as it is lived more broadly on the other.
Through essays, interviews, photographs and archival extracts which feature different places, the editors to aim make visible that the life of people living in a certain place is the basic dimension of contemporary reality.
Amkenah looks at culture, literature and place primarily from the viewpoint of transformation. It seeks to trace the points of transformation in a particular place at a particular time. This allows place and art and literature to be seen as fluid, changing elements. In this way, it hopes to escape the game of exclusion and inclusion played by a global culture bent on obliterating the particular. Place becomes a container of change and dispute; a reference point that can’t be easily obliterated, or superseded by meta-narrative or cultural theory.
In keeping with its commitment to lived experience it publishes primarily nonfiction written from a subjective point of view that challenges formal, academic styles with inventiveness, colloquialism and humanity.
Texts by experienced writers, poets, scholars and journalists are published alongside new voices and supplemented with art and photography.
Openly defiant of the conservative “independent scene” and the nepotism-ridden state-affiliated press, the magazine was initially self-funded by its editors and while it currently publishes intermittently, it’s completely financially self-sufficient.
Alaa Khaled, Salwa Rashad, Mohab Nasre, Heba El-Cheikh, Adania Shibli, Haytham el-Wardany, Ahmad Farouq, Youssef Rakha, Tarek Naga, Richard Jacquemond, Stephanie Dujols
Thanks to Fouad Asfour