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Gatekeepers of the Arab PastHistorians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt$
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Yoav Di-Capua

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257320

Published to California Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257320.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 25 July 2021

Talking History: 1906–1920

Talking History: 1906–1920

(p.66) 2 Talking History: 1906–1920
Gatekeepers of the Arab Past

Yoav Di Capua

University of California Press

This chapter covers the era that stretches from the beginning of the twentieth century to the 1919 nationalist revolution. This allegedly incoherent era, which was neither fully Ottoman nor entirely nationalist, witnessed the apex of a powerful process of de-Ottomanization, during which the outdated Egyptian–Ottoman elite was Arabized and Egyptianized. It is argued that this process was propelled forward by a series of linguistic and semantic constructs that created a strong theoretical dependency among nationalism, modernity, and history writing. Aiming toward building an elaborate system of political modernity, a full-fledged semantic field created the theoretical infrastructure of this system and conditioned what could be thought and apprehended at any given time. Thus, this semantic field organized ideas about authority, sovereignty, public and private spheres of political action, jurisdictional structures, citizenship, and other crucial aspects of political modernity. Structurally biased against monarchic rule, colonial domination, and Ottomanism in general, it automatically privileged a republican order of popular sovereignty.

Keywords:   Egyptian history, Egyptian historiography, nationalist revolution, nationalism, modernity, history writing, popular sovereignty

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