Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt

TitleGatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt
Publication TypeBook
Year of Publication2009
AuthorsDi-Capua Y
PublisherUniversity of California Press
ISBN Number9780520257337

This groundbreaking study illuminates the Egyptian experience of modernity by critically analyzing the foremost medium through which it was articulated: history. The first comprehensive analysis of a Middle Eastern intellectual tradition, Gatekeepers of the Past examines a system of knowledge that replaced the intellectual and methodological conventions of Islamic historiography only at the very end of the nineteenth century. Covering more than one hundred years of mostly unexamined historical literature in Arabic, Yoav Di-Capua explores Egyptian historical thought, examines the careers of numerous critical historians, and traces this tradition's uneasy relationship with colonial forms of knowledge as well as with the post-colonial state.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
List of Abbreviations

1. Historicizing Ottoman Egypt: 1890-1906
2. Talking History: 1906-1920
3. The House of Records: The 1920s
4. Competing for History: 1930-1952
5. Ghurbal's School: 1930-1952
6. Partisan Historiography: The 1940s and Beyond
7. Demonstrating History: The 1950s
8. Controlling History: The 1960s
9. Authoritarian Pluralism: 1970-2000


Reviews and Endorsements

“The book is extremely ambitious, and the reader will immediately appreciate not only Di-Capua’s efforts in undertaking such a monumental task but also his erudition and familiarity with Egypt’s modern historiographic tradition.”—American Historical Review

"An enormous contribution to the study of Egyptian history writing and historiography. Sure to become the basic manual for understanding the trajectory of modern Egyptian thinking."—Roger Owen, author of State, Power and Politics in the Making of the Modern Middle East