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Nurturing the Nation

The Family Politics of Modernizing, Colonizing, and Liberating Egypt, 1805-1923

Lisa Pollard

Publication Year: 2005

Focusing on gender and the family, this erudite and innovative history reconsiders the origins of Egyptian nationalism and the revolution of 1919 by linking social changes in class and household structure to the politics of engagement with British colonial rule. Lisa Pollard deftly argues that the Egyptian state's modernizing projects in the nineteenth century reinforced ideals of monogamy and bourgeois domesticity among Egypt's elite classes and connected those ideals with political and economic success. At the same time, the British used domestic and personal practices such as polygamy, the harem, and the veiling of women to claim that the ruling classes had become corrupt and therefore to legitimize an open-ended tenure for themselves in Egypt. To rid themselves of British rule, bourgeois Egyptian nationalists constructed a familial-political culture that trained new generations of nationalists and used them to demonstrate to the British that it was time for the occupation to end. That culture was put to use in the 1919 Egyptian revolution, in which the reformed, bourgeois family was exhibited as the standard for "modern" Egypt.

Published by: University of California Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-viii

List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-11

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pp. xi-xiii

This book is the result of many years of work in California, Egypt, and North Carolina. It has beneWted wholly from the guidance of various people to whom thanks are owed. My professors at Berkeley—Ira Lapidus, Barbara Daly Metcalf, and Thomas Metcalf—provided me with friendship...

Note on Translation and Transliteration

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pp. xv-17

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pp. 1-14

In May 1919, Egypt’s acting consul general, Sir Milne Cheetham (1869–1938), sent an intelligence report to the Foreign Office in an attempt to explain why Egypt had erupted in a series of violent uprisings. Having perused the Egyptian political press, Cheetham reported to British foreign...

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1. My House and Yours: Egyptian State Servants and the New Geography of Nationalism

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pp. 15-47

In the early decades of the nineteenth century, the nascent Egyptian state’s quest to modernize and strengthen its institutions and create new ones produced a kind of “travel literature” about the world outside Egypt’s borders. Through the creation of the student missions abroad and a corps...

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2. Inside Egypt: The Harem, the Hovel, and the Western Construction of an Egyptian National Landscape

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pp. 48-72

At precisely the same time that monogamous, bourgeois couples and modern, single-family dwellings became the products of Egyptian modernization and centralization, European travelers were emphasizing Egypt’s polygamy, extended families, timeless domestic practices, and...

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3. Domesticating Egypt: The Gendered Politics of the British Occupation

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pp. 73-99

Among the many foreigners present in Egypt at the time of the British occupation was English nobleman Wilfrid Scawen Blunt (1840–1922). Blunt was a curious figure among the expatriate community. On the one hand, he was a tourist searching for an escape from England’s climate and...

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4. The Home, the Classroom, and the Cultivation of Egyptian Nationalism

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pp. 100-131

From the latter decades of the nineteenth century onward, British administrators and Egyptian nationalists who worked within the colonial administration subjected elite Egyptian schoolchildren to a reform of their personal behavior that was designed to fit the needs of the Egyptian...

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5. Table Talk: The Home Economics of Nationhood

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pp. 132-165

From the 1870s onward discussions of the home and the family and their relationship to politics were not limited to state-produced literature. In an active, popular, and privately funded press, a generation of educated Egyptians, both Ottoman-Egyptian and Arabophone, articulated sentiments...

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6. Reform on Display: The Family Politics of the 1919 Revolution

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pp. 166-204

In the spring of 1919, after enduring the humiliation of Egypt’s transformation from an informally occupied territory to a formal protectorate state, the imposition of martial law, the dismissal of local forms of self-government, and the difficult years of World War I, the Egyptians delivered...

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Conclusion: It’s a Girl! Gender and the Birth of Modern Egyptian Nationalism

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pp. 205-211

Each year, the Egyptian press commemorates the anniversary of the demonstrations that mark the 1919 Revolution. Given the remarkable nature of their appearance in the demonstrations, it is usually women who are chosen as the symbols of the revolution and whose participation in the...


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pp. 213-255


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pp. 257-276


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pp. 277-287

E-ISBN-13: 9780520937536
Print-ISBN-13: 9780520240230

Page Count: 302
Publication Year: 2005