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The Long 1890s in EgyptColonial Quiescence, Subterranean Resistance$
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Marilyn Booth and Gorman Anthony

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748670123

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748670123.001.0001

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Before Qasim Amin:

Before Qasim Amin:

Writing Women’s History in 1890s Egypt

(p.365) 13 Before Qasim Amin
The Long 1890s in Egypt

Marilyn Booth

Edinburgh University Press

In the 1890s, women’s and men’s behaviours, marriage practices and girls’ education, and the meanings of gender difference for a strong and modern society, were amongst the most commented-on topics in the press and the emerging book publishing sector in Egypt. This chapter argues that public discourse then was strongly structured by a ubiquity of commentary on gender. Focusing on three treatises, the chapter highlights the use of historical narratives in debating contemporary gendered practices. It shows how authors exploited women’s history to talk about social needs in the present and to voice support for or criticism of changes on the ground, such as women’s and girls’ greater visibility and freedom of movement. It argues that there is a specific tenor to this 1890s public conversation, arising partly from the transnational circulation of male intellectuals and texts, and with the composition of reading audiences at the time.

Keywords:   gender, woman question, masculinity, femininity, Islam, marriage, sexuality, women’s history, Orientalist Congresses

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