This ongoing research project looks at the configurations of society, legitimacy, knowledge and power in Egypt, from the vantage point of the higher education sector, which Daniele Cantini has been researching since 2007. According to both local and international sources, the educational sector in Egypt has been in deep crisis for decades, and this is usually traced back to an even deeper crisis of citizenship. The main interest here is to look at this overarching discourse of crisis, how it is constructed and with which evidence, and which practices does it enable. From a theoretical point of view, the starting point is the focus on the university as a fundamental institution in the contemporary configuration of knowledge and power, in combination with the recent anthropological interest in global assemblages, in this case higher education as a ‘glocal’ technology of governance. The goal of this research is to discuss how significance is made by resorting to the crisis narrative – how different modes of organisation and reforms are introduced and how social actors adapt their evaluations to the changing context. In this sense, the project has a significance that goes beyond Egypt and the higher education sector, since similar processes are at play elsewhere. Ultimately, the project investigates the changes in the conception of what the state is and should be, between social and economic considerations, both locally and internationally oriented, through the lens of the higher education sector.