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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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The ‘Ābdīn House of Records: The 1920s

The ‘Ābdīn House of Records: The 1920s

(p.91) 3 The ‘Ābdīn House of Records: The 1920s
Gatekeepers of the Arab Past

Yoav Di Capua

University of California Press

This chapter focuses on the Ābdīn archive and the true nature and scope of the project. The project lasted more than twenty-five years and involved a host of foreign archivists, philologists, and historians. Undeniably colonial in essence, the royal project introduced to Egyptian historiography three complementary elements. First, substantiating the “founder paradigm,” it set the criteria for what constituted “proper historical knowledge” with regard to modern Egypt. Then, it disseminated the assumption that, both physically and epistemologically, there could be no valid historical evidence outside the archive (which systematically excluded Ottoman and subaltern pasts). Finally, it introduced the concepts of scientific objectivity and expert authority.

Keywords:   Egyptian history, Egyptian historiography, archive, founder paradigm, modern Egypt

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