N.A. Mansour

  • Fellowship Dates 2019-2019
  • Research Topic A Global History of the Arabic Language Press: 1800s-1950s
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate Princeton University

“For the General Public” – this is the refrain found in most 19th-century Arabic-language periodicals. But given that far less than five percent of the population could read, whom were these newspapers and magazines actually addressing? Who was this ‘general public’? Newspapers and magazines emerged in the Arabic-speaking context in the late 1850s and early 1860s. They largely catered to a new class of literate professionals, namely doctors, lawyers, bureaucrats and engineers that was taking shape in the Middle East, North Africa and beyond. Newspapers were writing to global audiences and espousing a global perspective; by the last decade of the 19th century, Arabic periodicals produced on five continents. This research analyzes the relationship between this audience of professionals and the writers and editors who created these papers, seeking to determine why writers conceived of this group as the ‘general public’ by analyzing their choices in format and content. It answers the question: How did the audience shape the Arabic-language press, leading to its global spread? It is a global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press, from the late 1850s to the mid-1930s, where the press is a functioning social, cultural, economic and political institution. It questions what allowed newspapers to develop as a category of Arabic-language intellectual expression and examines the development of the magazine, the majalla, and determining what made it distinct from the newspaper in both content and form. The study reflects on themes of Islamic knowledge and Arab identity, looking at how they are discussed within periodicals during the 1890s-1910s and covers the global conversation on culture, thaqafa, a conversation that is often limited in existing histories to Egypt.

TopicsArabic & Islamic & Near and Middle Eastern Studies, History, Media & Cinema, Texts & LiteratureThemeHieroglyphs & Literature, Language, People & SocietyHistoric PeriodKhedival, Modern, Ottoman


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