Presentation Title: The Nature of “Modernity” in 19th Century Egyptian Legal Reform: A New Assessment

Section: Understanding the Past II

Location: , 303

Date & Time: Friday, April 19, 2013 - 11:55am - 12:10pm


The nineteenth century is widely regarded as the beginning of the “modern” era in Egypt.   In this presentation I explore the notion of “modernity” as it is typically applied to the Egyptian context, and argue that the common practice of equating Egyptian “modernization” with the act of “westernization” is problematic.  Focusing on the arena of legal reform, I examine the legal positions of three populations “on the margins” of Egyptian society - slaves, European immigrants, and Muslim women – and explain how those positions were, or were not, subject to both institutional and epistemological modernization over the nineteenth century.  Ultimately, I propose that three widely held assumptions about Egyptian modernization – that it was initiated by the introduction of Western ideology and practice, that Westerners invariably encouraged Egypt in its attempts to modernize, and that success or failure of Egyptian modernization efforts should be assessed according to Western standards – are each invalid.

Type of Presentation: Individual oral

Oral presenters
Presentation Area: History

Presentation Topic: Africa

Arts presenters

Class Project
Course name: 
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Presenter Information
Presenter(s): Mrowiec, Stephen Granda
Major(s): History; Theatre
Class Year(s): 2013

Sponsor(s): Armanios, Febe
Dept(s): History

Moderator: ,