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A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen

A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen

 
By: By: Jane Hathaway

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Year: 2003
Pages: 312
Language: English
Published: State University of New York Press

This revisionist study reevaluates the origins and foundation myths of the Faqaris and Qasimis, two rival factions that divided Egyptian society during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when Egypt was the largest province in the Ottoman Empire. In answer to the enduring mystery surrounding the factions’ origins, Jane Hathaway places their emergence within the generalized crisis that the Ottoman Empire—like much of the rest of the world—suffered during the early modern period, while uncovering a symbiosis between Ottoman Egypt and Yemen that was critical to their formation. In addition, she scrutinizes the factions’ foundation myths, deconstructing their tropes and symbols to reveal their connections to much older popular narratives. Drawing on parallels from a wide array of cultures, she demonstrates with striking originality how rituals such as storytelling and public processions, as well as identifying colors and emblems, could serve to reinforce factional identity.

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