The New Mamluks: Egyptian Society and Modern Feudalism
By introducing her own methodologies and applying them to the history of modern Egypt, Amira el-Azhary Sonbol has produced an analytical history spanning the time of pre-Muhammad Ali to the present day. Using local idioms and terms such as khassa and amma, iltizam and faiz she has developed a methodology that is more meaningful since it ties events of the eighteenth century to those in the twentieth. Sonbol shows continuity in the division of Egyptian society into two groups: the khassa, which tried to impose a hegemonic culture on society, one which reflected and encouraged its economic interests, while aroma clung to its heritage and customs in an attempt to acquire a share of the wealth. Sonbol also discusses today's Islamic movement in Egypt as a revolution correcting the duality of culture that was brought about by historical events like colonialism and the importation of exogenous ideologies. She suggests a different way of looking at culture and the necessity of seeing cultural struggle as a method for studying the historical process that goes beyond the political and economical.
By: Amira El-Azhary Sonbol