- Fellowship Dates 2010-2010
- Research Topic Tanta in the 19th Century, 1854-1907
- Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
- Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate Northeastern University
In 1856, a steam engine leaving Cairo, bound for Alexandria, roared through the Egyptian Delta and pulled into the city of Tanta for the first time. Two factors determined that the train would stop in Tanta: the city’s role in Egyptian governor Sa’id’s modernization project and Tanta’s annual festive, mulid.
This research shows how the convergence of local socioreligious practices and transportation innovations changed the physical landscape of the city. It argues that the confluence of local Egyptians and migrants working, living and learning in Tanta helped the state and religious orthodoxy combat modern health practices. While the religious authority and Egyptian government worked together to turn Tanta into a modern healthy, orthodox city, its residents and visitors assisted the authority to recast the project of modernity to accommodate their needs. This research recognizes that the Egyptian state produced one form of modernity but illustrates that individual Egyptians influenced the trajectory of Egypt’s modernization process when they appealed to the government through newly established channels, such as the civil court system. Through the action of individuals, nineteenth century Egyptian bureaucracy gave way to new forms of modernity that favored a local blending of modernity and social organization.