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Domestic Sovereignty, A‘yan Developmentalism, and Global Microhistory in Modern Egypt

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 March 2018

Adam Mestyan*
Affiliation:
History, Duke University

Abstract

Through a new type of global microhistory, this article explores the remaking of the political system in Egypt before colonialism. I argue that developmentalism and the origins of Arabic monarchism were closely related in 1860s Egypt. Drawing on hitherto unknown archival evidence, I show that groups of Egyptian local notables (a‘yan) sought to cooperate with the Ottoman governor Ismail (r. 1863–1879) in order to gain capital and steam machines, and to participate in the administration. Ismail, on his side, secured a new order of succession from the Ottoman sultan. A‘yan developmentalism was discursively presented in petitions, poems, and treatises acknowledging the new order and naturalizing the governor as an Egyptian ruler. Consultation instead of constitutionalism was the concept to express the new relationship. The collaboration was codified in the Consultative Chamber of Representatives, often interpreted as the first parliament in the Middle East. As a consequence of the sultanic order and the Chamber, Egypt's position within the Ottoman Empire became similar to a pseudo-federal relationship. I conclude by contrasting different ways of pseudo-federalization in the global 1860s, employing a regional, unbalanced comparison with the United Principalities and Habsburg Hungary.

Type
Egyptian Vernacular
Copyright
Copyright © Society for the Comparative Study of Society and History 2018 

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References

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116 Ibid., 4.

117 Ibid., 33.

118 Ibid., 45.

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143 Letter from Ahmad Mustafa, 15 Rabi‘ al-Akhir 1283 (25 Oct. 1866), 82/39, microfilm 198, MST, DWQ.

144 Anderson, Imagined Communities, 21.

145 Undated letter from Muhammad al-Shawarli, village headman of Qayub, and Hamza ‘Ali, village headman of Tasma, 150/39, MST, DWQ.

146 Undated letter from Ahmad al-Yamani entitled “Malhuzat tata‘allaq bi-aqlam min al-irad wa-l-masarif wa-umur al-dabt wa-l-rabt” (Notes related to the Offices of Income and Expenditure and General Security), 151/39, microfilm 198, MST, DWQ.

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