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Gender and Class in the Egyptian Women’s Movement, 1925-1939
Changing Perspectives

Cathlyn Mariscotti

Cloth $24.95s    |    978-08156-3170-5    |    2008

"Original. . . . An important and timely intervention into the history of Egyptian feminism."
—Samah Selim, author of The Novel and the Rural Imaginary in Egypt, 1800-1985

The Egyptian women’s movement has been heralded as improving the lives of women in Egypt and paving the way for women throughout the Arab world. As seen through the eyes of the university-educated elite and middle class, this is no doubt true, yet such a narrow view fails to account for the diversity of women's experience. Cathlyn Mariscotti provides a critical reexamination of the women’s movement in light of class differences. Framing it within the broader economic and political movements occurring in Egypt and abroad, her nuanced account of the women’s movement unveils a rich, differentiated, and complex history of Egyptian women.

Drawing upon published journal reports and newspaper articles, Mariscotti explores the tensions between upper-class harem women and lower-class women. The author describes the way in which elite feminism created a concept of womanhood that fed into the nationalist cultural ideal, one that was not necessarily progressive for all Egyptian women. Demonstrating active resistance, the nonelite women constructed a model of feminism in line with their own class position and political interests. From this class struggle, a unique, synthesized form of feminism emerged, infused with the politics and culture of Egypt at that time. Humanizing her analysis, the author profiles two outspoken and prominent women who symbolize the conflict: the university-educated and wealthy Huda Sha’rawi and Munira Thabit, who represented the working-class women. The first to emphasize the class conflict among women, this book makes an invaluable contribution to the fields of women’s studies and Middle East studies.

View other books on Middle East Studies Beyond Dominant Paradigms

Cathlyn Mariscotti is associate professor of history at Holy Family University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

6 x 9, 184 pages, notes, bibliography, index

Gender and Class in the Egyptian Womens Movement

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