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Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture Paperback – May 31, 2011


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Editorial Reviews

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"Ziad Fahmy's Ordinary Egyptians stands out. It provides a model for creative but very solid historical studies. Fahmy assembles rich empirical data from what he calls "media capitalism," incorporating all mass media, including print, performance, broadcast, and recording." --Raymond W. Baker, The Middle East Journal

"Ordinary Egyptians is a pioneering and provocative work that critically intervenes in the history of revolution and modernity in Egypt. The book contributes much to scholarship on the history of modern Egypt, media, nationalism, and the relationship between technology and culture." -The International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies.

"Fahmy's account of the emergence of the Egyptian public sphere from the 1870s through 1919 is richly detailed, theoretically sophisticated, and beautifully written."
 -Mark Lynch, Foreign Policy


"Ordinary Egyptians is a useful volume that will be received with enthusiasm by not only students of Egyptian history and Middle East studies but also by scholars more generally interested in nationalism and popular culture."- Journal of World History

"Fahmy has created a powerful and timely book, ably documenting the historical impact of the lower classes; he shows that Egypt's 2011 revolution is, in many ways, not new at all... The themes of 2011 parallel those of 1919: An elitist regime articulates hegemonic imperatives out of touch with ordinary Egyptians. In the aftermath of the recent Arab uprisings, observers who may wish to examine whether social networking played a causative role in those revolutions should turn to Fahmy's elucidation of pre-1919 popular culture as a potential model for such studies." Middle East Quarterly 

"An excellent and original book. Fahmy deconstructs commonly held assumptions regarding the formation of nationalism, particularly in its early stages. Its contribution to the field is indispensable." —Israel Gershoni, Tel Aviv University


"Ziad Fahmy's Ordinary Egyptians offers a compelling alternative to an existing historiogrpahy that has mostly explored Egyptian nationalism from the vantage of elite culture."—Aaron Jakes, Arab Studies Journal


"[Fahmy's book] provides a model for creative but very solid historical studies. Fahmy asks an important question: What role did popular culture play in the formation of the modern Egyptian nation? He plunges into very real controversies over the vernacular versus literary Arabic and makes a clear and persuasive, though inevitably controversial case for that incredibly supple and quite beautiful Egyptian spoken dialect."—Raymond William Baker, Middle East Journal


"Fahmy's work is a well-written and compelling argument to expand our thinking on the formation of Egyptian nationalism. By looking at new sources, found in the written and spoken colloquial Egyptian of everyday Egyptians, Fahmy has greatly added to the historiography of this topic. The author also shows that we must move beyond our Western European-centric notions of linguistic cultural nationalism if we are to wholly understand the formation of nationalism in the Arab world."—Kelly M. McFarland, Washington Independent Review of Books


"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."—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."—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."—Eve Troutt Powell, University of Pennsylvania

About the Author

Ziad Fahmy is Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History at Cornell University.
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