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264 pages. Softcover. Brand new book. EGYPT. The popular culture of pre-revolution Egypt did more than entertain&emdash; it created a nation. Songs, jokes, and satire, comedic sketches, plays, and poetry, all provided an opportunity for discussion and debate about national identity and an outlet for resistance to British and elite authority. This book examines how, from the 1870s until the eve of the 1919 revolution, popular media and culture provided ordinary Egyptians with a framework to construct and negotiate a modern national identity. Ordinary Egyptians shifts the typical focus of study away from the intellectual elite to understand the rapid politicization of the growing literate middle classes and brings the semi-literate and illiterate urban masses more fully into the historical narrative. It introduces the concept of "media-capitalism, " which expands the analysis of nationalism beyond print alone to incorporate audiovisual and performance media. It was through these various media that a collective camaraderie crossing class lines was formed and, as this book uncovers, an Egyptian national identity emerged. Ziad Fahmy is Assistant Professor of Modern Middle East History at Cornell University. "This is truly an excellent and original book. Fahmy deconstructs commonly held assumptions regarding the formation of nationalism, particularly in its early stages, providing a thought-provoking contribution to our understanding of how agents propelled the formation of nationalism in Egypt in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Its contribution to the field is indispensable."&emdash; Israel Gershoni, Tel Aviv University "This refreshing new work fills a significant gap and opens a path for further research on how class and literary taste functioned in the early stages of Egyptian national identity formation. Fahmy places the vernacular more squarely in the center of discussions of the history of Egyptian nationalism and marks out useful signposts in showing how expressive culture articulates with other developments."&emdash; Walter Armbrust, University of Oxford "Ordinary Egyptians is a gem in the collection of works on modern Egyptian history. Fahmy covers the rich topic of the colloquial media in Egypt when khedives and then the British governed Egyptian society, spotlighting those who wrote for newspapers, the theater, and the radio. An important book."&emdash; Eve Troutt Powell, University of Pennsylvania (Key Words: Ziad Fahmy, Egypt, Egyptians, Middle East).
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