What about masculinity in Egypt?

Are the notions of masculinity changing in today’s Egypt? What are the communal ideals and concepts of manhood? Does the state promote certain types of masculinity? What was ‘effendi masculinity’? How did colonialism affect the discourse on Egyptian masculinity?

  • Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870-1940 by Wilson Chacko Jacob (AUC Press)

Working Out Egypt is both a rich cultural history of the formation of an Egyptian national subject in the late nineteenth century and early twentieth and a compelling critique of modern Middle Eastern historiography. Wilson Chacko Jacob describes how Egyptian men of a class akin to the cultural bourgeoisie (the effendiyya) struggled to escape from the long shadow cast by colonial depictions of the East as degenerate, feminine, and temporally behind an active and virile Europe.

“This is a pioneering book that probes the relationship between colonialism, nationalism, and masculinity in fresh and exciting ways.”—Saba Mahmood, author of Politics of Piety: The Islamic Revival and the Feminist Subject.

  • Masculinities in Egypt and the Arab World: Historical, Literary, and Social Science Perspectives, Cairo Papers Vol. 33, No. 1, edited by Helen Rizzo (AUC Press)

While reflecting upon the Arab Spring, the essays in this collection cover several themes that include utilizing the concept of hegemonic masculinity in productive ways, the role of the state in promoting certain types of masculinities while devaluing and disciplining others, the potential role of feminism and activism in influencing masculinities, and the effects of colonialism, nationalism and postcolonialism, as well as war and violence.

Presenting cases from Egypt, Lebanon, and Tunisia, they seek to humanize, contextualize, and historicize masculinities to particular times and places in the Middle East.

  • Manhood Is Not Easy: Egyptian Masculinities through the Life of Musician Sayyid Henkish by Karin van Nieuwkerk (AUC Press)

An in-depth ethnography that takes the autobiographical narrative of Sayyid Henkish, a musician from a long family tradition of wedding performers in Cairo, as a lens through which to explore changing notions of masculinity in an Egyptian community over the course of a single lifetime. Central to Henkish’s story is his own conception of manhood, which is closely tied to the notion of ibn al-balad, the ‘authentically Egyptian’ lower-middle class male, with all its associated values of nobility, integrity, and toughness. How to embody these communal ideals while providing for his family in the face of economic hardship and the perceived moral ambiguities associated with his work in the entertainment trade are key themes in his narrative.

“An extraordinary work of meticulous scholarship.”―Midwest Book Review


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