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Minorities in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel$
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Mary Youssef

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474415415

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415415.001.0001

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Reading Cosmopolitanism in Yusuf Zaydan’s Azazeel and Muʿtazz Futayha’s Akhir yahud al-iskandariyya

Reading Cosmopolitanism in Yusuf Zaydan’s Azazeel and Muʿtazz Futayha’s Akhir yahud al-iskandariyya

Chapter:
(p.67) 2 Reading Cosmopolitanism in Yusuf Zaydan’s Azazeel and Muʿtazz Futayha’s Akhir yahud al-iskandariyya
Source:
Minorities in the Contemporary Egyptian Novel
Author(s):

Mary Youssef

Publisher:
Edinburgh University Press
DOI:10.3366/edinburgh/9781474415415.003.0003

Foregrounding the histories and experiences of ethno-religious minorities, the Copts’ in fifth-century Egypt in Azazeel and the Jews’ in the twentieth century in Akhir yahud al-iskandariyya, both novels simultaneously challenge conventional cultural and historical narratives of Egypt and highlight these groups’ global particularities. This beyond-the-nation literary reflection situates these groups within a larger, all-too-familiar, and fallible humanity and underlines the interplay between empire, nation-state, religion, and power. Examining these intricacies, this chapter pays attention to how both novels speak to rising exclusionary nationalisms and puritanical isolationism on the basis of religion—whether practiced in historical imperial or modern nationalist contexts. Set in Alexandria, which is celebrated as a cosmopolitan center, the novels disclose the city’s historical instabilities by mirroring the tumult lives of its fictional inhabitants. The characters’ uncertainties, global vagrancy, and subversion of established bodies of knowledge are connected to Rebecca Walkowitz’s conceptualization of a critical strand of cosmopolitanism.

Keywords:   Yusuf Zaydan (Youssef Zeidan), MuʿtazzFutayha, Vagrancy, Religion, Copts, Jews, Nationalism, Egypt, Critical Cosmopolitanism, Rebecca Walkowitz

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