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Commemorating the Nation
Collective Memory, Public Commemoration, and National Identity in Twentieth-century Egypt

By Israel Gershoni and James Jankowski

Commemorating the Nation
Hardback, 352 pages £49.00
Published: 2004
ISBN: 9780970819918
Format: 234mm x 157mm
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Subjects: Arabic and Islamic Studies, Middle East Documentation Center
Series: Chicago Studies on the Middle East

Includes 18 illustrations.

Commemorating the Nation is a study of the relationship between public commemoration and national identity in Egypt over the course of the twentieth century. Appropriating insights from recent theoretical discussions of collective memory and public commemoration, it examines the modes by which different Egyptian communities of memorythe state under successive regimes; rival political forces and movements; elite and non-elite groups within civil societyremembered and commemorated the Egyptian national struggle, its defining moments and heroic figures, in specific sites of national memory.

The book's analysis ranges across the twentieth century, tracing the changing place of selected sites of national memory from the pre-World-War-I years through the decades of the parliamentary monarchy to the era of the Egyptian Republic. Each of its three main sections is devoted to a different form of commemoration. The first is the nationalist art of Egypt's "national sculptor" Mahmud Mukhtar (1891-1934) and how his monumental icons expressing the nationalist ethos, specifically his sculpture Nahdat Misr and his statues of the leader of the 1919 Revolution, Sa`d Zaghlul, have been represented and re-represented by successive generations of Egyptians. The second section analyzes the modalities through which the historic figures of Egypt's Nationalist Party, Mustafa Kamil (1874-1908) and Muhammad Farid (1868-1919), have been preserved and commemorated through the remainder of the twentieth century. The third section considers national holiday celebrations as sites of Egyptian collective memory, particularly the celebration of the July 1952 Revolution during the reign of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the commemoration of the 1973 Crossing of the Suez Canal under his successor Anwar al-Sadat.

The book is the product of fieldwork in Egypt as well as of extensive research in Egyptian publications. By analyzing nationalism through the prism of public commemoration, the work extends our understanding of the shaping of national identity and the evolution of national imagining in modern Egypt. Although it focuses on Egypt, its findings have implications for the study of collective memory and public commemoration in general.

List of Illustrations


List of Abbreviations


Part I Sculpting the Nation: Mahmud Mukhtar and National Commemoration in Visual Art

1. Prologue: "The First Egyptian Sculptor since the Age of the Pharaohs"

2. Mahmud Mukhtar: an Egyptian Childhood, a Parisian Education

3. Nahdat Misr: Inspiration and Influences

4. Neo-{haraonism and the Fine Arts in Independent Egypt

5. Politics and Commemoration: the Construction of Nahdat Misr as a National Monument

6. The Heroic Moment: the Unveiling of Nahdat Misr

7. Commemoration and Partisan Politics: Mahmud Mukhtar's Statues of Sacd Zaghlul

8. Mahmud Mukhtar after Nahdat Misr, 1928 - 1934

9. Contested Memories: Mahmud Mukhtar and Nahdat Misr in an Era of Transistion, 1934-1952

10. Revolutionizing Mukhtar: The July 1952 Revolution and New Meanings for Mukhtar's Commemorative Works in the Egyptian Republic

11. Epilogue

Part II Death and Memory: Commemorating the National Heroes Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid

12. Prologue: Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid in Contemporary Egyptian Memory

13. The Burial of a National Hero: the Civic Funeral of Mustafa Kamil, 1908

14. Martyrdom and Memory: the Death and Funeral of Muhammad Farid, 1919-1920

15. National Forgetting: Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid in Eclipse, 1920-1937

16. Recovery of Memory: Rehabilitating Mustafa Kamil and Muhammad Farid, 1937-1952

17. Revolutionary Appropriation: Mustafa Kamil, Muhammad Farid and the Revolution of July 1952

18. Epilogue

Part III Commemorating the Revolution in Egypt

19. Prologue: The July Revolution after Fifty Years

20. National Holidays as Sites of Memory

21. National Holiday Commemoration under the Egyptian Parliamentary Monarchy

22. Celebrating the Revolution of July 1952

23. Appropriation and Obliteration: Celebrating the Crossing of October 1973

24. Epilogue: July 23 and October 6, 2000





Israel Gershoni is Professor of History at Tel Aviv University.

James Jankowski is Professor Emeritus of History at the University of Colorado. They are the co-authors of Egypt, Islam, and the Arabs: The Search for Egyptian Nationhood, 1900-1930 (1986) and Redefining the Egyptian Nation, 1930-1945 (1995), and are co-editors of Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East (1997).

Publication Details:

 Hardback , 352 pages
 234mm x 157mm

BIC Code:
 Middle East Documentation Center


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