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The great theft of history

A lecture given on 27 March, 2019, in a conference titled “The Egyptian Revolution of 1919: The birth fo a nation”. The conference was organized by the British Egyptian Society, the London Middle East Centre, and the Council for British Research in the Levant.

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“State paradox”: Adam Sabra’s review of In Quest of Justice

Adam Sabra published the following review of In Quest of Justice in al-Ahram Weekly, issue 1437, 4-10 April 2019. Khaled Fahmy’s fascinating and important new book addresses fundamental questions about the nature of Egypt’s modernity. Tracing the origins of forensic medicine to the middle of the 19th century (1830-1880), Fahmy offers a revisionist account of the origins of the modern Egyptian state and its relationship to Islamic law. Critical of modernisation theories of both the right and left as well as of Islamist critiques of the legitimacy of Egypt’s path to modernity, Fahmy suggests that Egypt under the descendants of…

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Adventures in the Archives (5): a murder case from 1863

The following is a homicide case adjudicated by Majlis al-Ahkam in 1280 AH / 1863 CE   You can download it as a pdf here: Ibrahim al Saidi qisas case And the following is a transcription: ١. مضبطة صورتها مجلس بني سويف كان أرسل للأحكام قرار وأوراق بإفادة رقم ٢٦ صفر سنة ٨٠ نمرة ١٣٢ تبين منهم أن شيخ ناحية القضابي بمديرية المنيا المسما ٢. علي عبد الهادي توجه في يوم ١٥ محرم سنة ٨٠ للمديرية مع أشخاص حاملين نفر مقتول يدعى قمح حسن من الناحية المذكورة وقرر بأنه كان بمنزله في ظهر ذاك اليوم ٣. ولما سمع عن قتل النفر…

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Adventures in the Archives (7): Hamama the foul-mouthed woman

This is a case from 1054 AH / 1644 CE And this is how it appears on the entire page of the register (the uppermost case): and this is a transcription of the case:     And this is a pdf of the transcription: Hamama the foul-mouthed woman-transcription

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Adventures in the archives (4)

In spring 2017, I taught a class at Harvard on Arabic paleography and archival skills. Each week, we’d read a couple of Arabic, hand-written archival documents that I had culled from the Egyptian National Archives. The documents were mostly from the 19th century, although some dated from the 16th and 17th centuries. I’d have the documents transcribed and the quaint and odd words explained in advance. On their part, the students were supposed to a. translate the document,  and b. practice reading it at home and be prepared to read it in class from the original, hand-written text. The documents ranged…

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