Decentering Egyptian Historiography: Provincializing Geographies, Methodologies, and Sources



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Cambridge University Press


“They say the city never sleeps, they say it bursts at the seams. The city rotates and revolves. The city branches out. The city beats, the city bleeds.” This unnamed city is Cairo, Umm al-Dunya or “mother of the world,” at once a vibrant character and the pulsating backdrop of Ahmed Naji's scandal-rousing Istikhdam al-Hayat (Using Life) and countless other works in Egyptian literature. Cairo, Amitav Ghosh has argued in his autobiographical chronicle of historical research and anthropological fieldwork in the Egyptian Delta in 1980 and beyond, is “Egypt's own metaphor for itself.” If that is the case, what does this sprawling and pervasive synecdoche reveal and what does it obscure?


Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press. This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Egyptian Historiography, Cairo, Alexandria


Carminati L, Gamal-Eldin M (2021). Decentering Egyptian Historiography: Provincializing Geographies, Methodologies, and Sources. International Journal of Middle East Studies 53, 107–111. S0020743821000015