The Jews of Modern Egypt: Schools, family, and the making of an imagined bourgeoise, 1880s-1950s
Title: The Jews of Modern Egypt: Schools, family, and the making of an imagined bourgeoise, 1880s-1950s
Author: MICCOLI, Dario
Series/Number: EUI PhD theses; Department of History and Civilization
This dissertation will investigate the emergence of an Egyptian Jewish bourgeoisie and its multi-layered imaginary in the period that goes from the 1880s up to the 1950s. More precisely, the research will aim to clarify how a largely imagined bourgeois identity emerged among the Jews, looking at schools, family life, gender, sociability, and how all this interweaved with processes of social and cultural change that invested the urban societies of Egypt and the Middle East. Last but not least, the dissertation will show how old and new ideas merged, and to what extent binary oppositions such as tradition/modernity, Jews/non-Jews, local/foreign might not be appropriate to fully understand the Egyptian Jewish past. It will be argued that a porous and in-between approach seems much more pertinent for historicizing the Jews, and reconsider the role that they had in modern Egypt and in the Mediterranean at large. Focus will be placed on details and events that occurred at a micro level, paying attention to practices, discourses, and feelings disseminated along the history of modern Egyptian Jews. The study of the latter will be integrated into a narrative that reconceptualizes the notions of centre and periphery, attesting to the existence of histories that traversed the Mediterranean and moved from Europe to the Middle East, and vice versa. In so doing, the investigation of this case study will also clarify aspects of the modern cultural and family history of the Middle East and its Jewish communities.
Defence date: 9 July 2012; Examining Board: Professor Giulia Calvi, EUI; Professor Emanuela Trevisan Semi, Università Cà Foscari; Professor Anthony Molho, EUI; Professor Deborah Starr, Cornell University.
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