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On TimeTechnology and Temporality in Modern Egypt$
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On Barak

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520276130

Published to California Scholarship Online: September 2016

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520276130.001.0001

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Harmonization and Its Discords

Harmonization and Its Discords

(p.115) Four Harmonization and Its Discords
On Time

On Barak

University of California Press

Chapter 4 (“Out-Dating”) examines how the telegraph “out-dated” the Hijri Muslim calendar, telescoping it into the sphere of religion. Arguably, the main arena for the telegraphic promotion of the Gregorian calendar (that replaced the Hijri one) was the emerging Egyptian press from the 1870s and onward. Yet in Egypt this process did not necessarily homogenize time: newspaper readers in Cairo and Alexandria, cities that were directly connected to Europe via submarine telegraph, read yesterday’s news from London or Paris, but news about the Egyptian countryside was sometimes two weeks old, because news from the country trickled in by mail. If the previous chapter contrasted middle-class time to the “superstitions” of the peasants, this chapter demonstrates how the formation of the Egyptian middle class also bears the mark of another temporal double standard, based on an uneven and uneasy set of relationships in which the action-packed Europe appeared closer than one’s seemingly remote and stagnate immediate surroundings.

Keywords:   Gregorian calendar, Hijrī calendar, Coptic calendar, telegraph, printing press, Nile, Wādi al-Nīl, news, ‘Abd Allāh al-Nadīm

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