This introductory chapter sets out the purpose of the book, which is to answer the question: What is the history of modern Egyptian historiography? The main argument of this study is that the modern idea of history is a form of thought and a habit of mind that arrived in Egypt in the late nineteenth century, bringing with them specific institutions and modes of reasoning. With time, they created their own particular logic of operation that was equipped with new tools for historical intelligibility that were—and still are—intimately linked to both modernity and nationalism. This argument refers to two different temporal orders. The first relates to the articulation of the modern idea of history, which stretches from roughly 1890 until the 1980s and beyond, when an era of historiographical self-examination began. The second frame relates to how this new idea shaped historical knowledge about modern Egypt. An overview of the subsequent chapters is also presented.
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