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Egypt's Culture WarsPolitics and Practice$
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Samia Mehrez

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9789774163746

Published to Cairo Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5743/cairo/9789774163746.001.0001

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Prologue Take them out of the ball game - Egypt's cultural players in crisis

Prologue Take them out of the ball game - Egypt's cultural players in crisis

(p.14) Prologue Take them out of the ball game - Egypt's cultural players in crisis
Egypt's Culture Wars

Samia Mehrez

American University in Cairo Press

The moment of confrontation between political and cultural figures in Egypt encapsulates the nature of their mutually dependent relationship since Muhammad Ali's modernization project (1805–49) and the ensuing years of the nahda—the cultural “awakening” in Egypt and the Arab world. To transform Egypt from an Ottoman province into a modern regional power, Muhammad Ali initiated a series of modern Western institutions within a traditional, Islamic cultural context that had been dominated by its religious rite, the ulama. For Egyptian cultural figures, this history has meant that the cultural is the handmaiden of the political and must always abide by its rules. The cultural has always been dependent largely on the space it is granted by the political field in the latter's own calculations of power. The end result is the weakness of a modernist paradigm that is developed and sustained from within the cultural field itself.

Keywords:   Muslim Brotherhood, Mubarak era, Islamists, Faraq Husni, Muhammad Ali, ulama

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