Matthew Parnell

  • Fellowship Dates 2013-2013
  • Research Topic Youth…Power…Egypt: The Development of al-Shabab as a Sociopolitical Force in Egypt
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of Arkansas

In spring 1919, Egypt erupted in revolution when the British arrested and exiled the Egyptian nationalist leader, Sa’d Zaghlul, and three of his associates. Students of the higher colleges, law, agriculture, engineering and commerce, fueled with anger over these arrests, left their classes and began demonstrations in Cairo on March 9. Over the next month, the students led and were joined by thousands of Egyptians from all walks of life around Egypt in protesting the exile of Zaghlul, demanding an end to the British occupation and calling for Egypt to assume its rightful place amongst modern nation-states in world affairs. Despite the populist characteristics of the 1919 Revolution, much of the existing historiography places the culmination of the revolutionary moment exclusively within the realm of elite politics. This research addresses the social and political symbolism of Egyptian youth (al-Shabab) within the official, nationalist, and popular discourses surrounding the formation of Egyptian national identity from the nineteenth century to the 1919 Revolution. It analyzes the designations for youth found within periodicals, memoirs and archival material during this era and focuses on the importance of youth within the Egyptian state-building and modernization projects of the 19th century, chronologically tracing the contours within the intellectual debates that contributed to the development of early politicized “youthful” subjects and the institutions that created them. It depicts the emerging social generations and illustrates the particular youth culture budding by the time of the 1919 Revolution, endowed with traits steeped in localized and global ideas of progressive modernity. This research examines diverse works from popular poetry, theater and songs, to expand understanding of Egyptian youth and national identity through a popular culture lens. While this project focuses specifically on Egypt, the developments within Egypt developments are examined within a global context in order to showcase the connections of youth culture formation, nationalism and anti-imperialism within this era.

TopicsHistory, Political Science, SociologyThemePeople & SocietyHistoric PeriodModern


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