An overview of the development of anthropological study in twentieth-century Egypt, by a leading anthropologist Anthropology as a discipline came to Egypt around 1900, as foreign anthropologists reported home on the culture they found. Gradually the intellectual approach was influenced by the functionalist school, stressing that a society consists of interlocking parts. As Egyptians took the lead in anthropology, in the 1930s, the discipline entered into the debate about the need to reform Egyptian society and culture especially in the rural areas, against a general background of functionalism. This approach dominated through the 1960s, when there was a break in Egypt because of the Six-Day War and in world anthropology because of the emergence of new intellectual models. This study traces the evolution of anthropology in Egypt through the stories of its practitioners such as Blackman, Galal, Evans-Pritchard, Hocart, Abbas Ammar, Hamid Ammar, Berque, Abou Zeid, el Hamamsy, Uways, and their contemporaries, showing their challenges and accomplishments.
Nicholas S. Hopkins is emeritus professor of anthropology and former dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at the American University in Cairo.
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