Egypt as a Woman
Nationalism, Gender, and Politics
Publication Year: 2005
Published by: University of California Press
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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication
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List of Illustrations
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In a decade-long exploration of gender and nationalism, I incurred manydebts, only some of which can be acknowledged here. Librarians andarchivists in Egypt, England, and the United States have made this workpossible. Michael Hopper and Alice Deyab at Harvard University’sWidener Library opened doors (and closets), and allowed me to read...
Note on Transliteration
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Transliteration is not an exact science. I have more or less followed thesystem of transliteration adopted by the International Journal of Mid-dle East Studies, which reduces diacritics to a minimum. I have deviatedfrom this system to use accepted English spelling for well-known place-names and people, such as “Cairo” and “Farouk.” For early members...
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Unrest broke out in Egypt in March 1919 when the British, who had occu-pied the autonomous Ottoman province in 1882 and declared it a protec-torate at the outset of World War I, arrested and deported leaders of theWafd (literally, delegation) who sought to present Egyptian demands forindependence at peace talks in Paris. Diverse groups in the city and coun-...
PART I. Images of the Nation
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...part 1 looks at images of the nation against the backdrop of socialtransformations. The unraveling of elite Ottoman-Egyptian householdsin the nineteenth century helped to pave the way for the making of anational family. Nationalists debated the contours of the family andused metaphors of the nation as a family to promote a bourgeois fam-...
1. Slavery, Ethnicity, and Family
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The origins of nations have been intensely debated by scholars. A con-sensus has emerged among most historians that nations are “constructed,”“invented,” or “imagined” in the modern period.1 Yet they are notinvented from thin air. Rather, nationalists are bound by the culturalmaterials at hand, the ethnicities on the ground, and socioeconomic cir-...
2. Constructing Egyptian Honor
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All nations, it seems, have a national honor to defend. Yet just as nationsare not givens, but rather communities built around ethnic, economic,linguistic, religious, and other ties, so too national honor must be seenas a modern construct and a crucial element in the making of collectivememory. Nationalists worked at promoting a sense of national honor...
3. Nationalist Iconography
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A nation is an abstraction. That is, it has no material form. Yet ever sincethe rise of nationalism, the nation has been represented visually. Thenation is thus an “imagined community” that is sometimes imagined inhuman form.1 The purposes of this iconography are clear: images of thenation were meant to reaffirm the unity of the collective and give the...
4. Photography and the Press
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A nation is made up of a multitude of people who have never seen the vast majority of their compatriots. “It is imagined,” Benedict Anderson tells us, “because the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them, yet in the minds of each lives the image of their communion.” Anderson ...
PART II. The Politics of Women Nationalists
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...part 2 turns to the politics of women nationalists in the interwaryears, focusing on the activities of a group of elite women who hoped tobe remembered as important political actors. It opens with the story ofthe “ladies’ demonstrations” of March 1919, or, rather, the way thoseevents entered into collective memory. Subsequent chapters consider the...
5. The “Ladies’ Demonstrations”
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Elite Egyptian women entered the collective memory and political his-tory of Egypt when, in March 1919, a week into the unrest that came tobe known as the revolution of 1919, they staged their own demonstra-tions.1 A mythology has grown up around the event, which has receivedattention in scores of Arabic and English texts and has achieved iconic...
6. Mother of the Egyptians
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Safiyya Zaghlul, wife of the Wafdist leader Sa‘d Zaghlul, was on handin March 1919 when her house was the focus of demonstrations, andshe signed the women’s petitions delivered to foreign consuls. After therevolution of 1919, she became widely known as “Mother of the Egyp-tians.” Her title built on the nationalist role cast for elite women from...
7. Partisans of the Wafd
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The Wafd spearheaded the nationalist movement, and most Egyptiannationalists—male and female—fell in behind the “party of the nation.”Elite women attempted to secure a political niche for themselves by found-ing an auxiliary party organization—the Women’s Wafd—and by start-ing political periodicals that supported the Wafd. Yet these women wanted...
8. The Path of an Islamic Activist
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The politics of Labiba Ahmad (1870s–1951) diverged from those of manyof her female contemporaries. Most endorsed the secularism of the Wafd,the Liberal Constitutionalists, and other like-minded parties, althoughthe attempts of these parties to divorce religion from politics was nevercomplete, and their support for women’s participation in the public...
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This book opens with the unveiling of the monumental version of Mah-mud Mukhtar’s The Awakening of Egypt. Even though Mukhtar’s sculp-ture depicts a peasant girl unveiling, contemporary unveiled Egyptianwomen could not attend the ceremony, suggesting that they were favoredas symbols rather than as political actors, and seemingly confirming that...
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Page Count: 302
Publication Year: 2005