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1. Quoted in James Williams, Education in Egypt Before British Control (Birmingham, n.p., 1939), p. 79. [BACK]

2. Spencer, “Moral Education,” pp. 112–13. [BACK]

3. El-Gawhary, “Report from a War Zone,” p. 50; al-Ahram, 26 July 1993, p. 7. [BACK]

4. Al-Ahram, 31 July 1993, p. 10. [BACK]

5. Hani Sharif Mahmud, interview, 18 April 1989, pp. 342–44. [BACK]

6. Joel Beinin, personal communication, 1989. [BACK]

7. Hani Sharif Mahmud, interview, 9 June 1989, pp. 339–40. [BACK]

8. Eric Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism in Modern Egypt,” in From Nationalism to Revolutionary Islam, ed. Said Amir Arjomand (London: The Macmillan Press, Ltd., 1984), pp. 139–40. [BACK]

9. Karl Marx, in the introduction to his “Contribution to a Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed., ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1978), p. 54. [BACK]

10. The section on religion in Economy and Society is published in English as The Sociology of Religion, trans. Ephraim Fischoff (1922; rpt., Boston: Beacon, 1963). Curiously, Davis does not cite Weber. [BACK]

11. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 141. [BACK]

12. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 147. [BACK]

13. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 146. [BACK]

14. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, “Anatomy of Egypt's Militant Islamic Groups: Methodological Note and Preliminary Findings,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 12 (1980), pp. 423–53; Ahmad Abdalla, The Student Movement; Fischer and Abedi, Debating Muslims, p. 86. [BACK]

15. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 147. [BACK]

16. Janet Abu-Lughod, “Rural Migration and Politics in Egypt,” p. 324. [BACK]

17. “The emphasis on a unitary, holistic Islam is very compatible with the overall world-view of the rural petite-bourgeoisie. It has been argued that there is no contradiction between the fact that such a large percentage of Islamic militants have been educated in the natural sciences and still subscribe to radical interpretations of Islam. Since the natural sciences stress an absolute approach to knowledge (either something is right or it is wrong), it is erroneous to assume that a “modern” education will necessarily erode a traditional consciousness which likewise emphasizes absolute categories of thought.” Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 146. It is worth noting here that the Egyptian educational system has long been criticized for teaching all subjects as if there were an absolute quality to knowledge. The difference between the teaching of literature and of engineering is thus not necessarily very great. It is also worth noting that Hassan al-Banna, Sayyid Qutb, Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, and Layla al-Shamsi were all trained in literature rather than the sciences. [BACK]

18. The weakness of class analysis in this case becomes manifest in the conceptual effort it takes to squeeze together the various occupations that Davis discusses into a single class category (“bourgeoisie,” or, oxymoronically, “rural petite-bourgeoisie”) that can experience socioeconomic pressures in a consistent way. Inferring the cognitive needs or social networks of ill-defined classes is a troublesome undertaking. Even when restricted to single occupations, theoretical statements about political susceptibility are always underdetermined. For example, Davis points to the large number of high school teachers involved in the Muslim Brotherhood in rural areas, interpreting their apparent overrepresentation as an indication of kinship relations between urban radicals and rural teachers, concluding with the non sequitur that “Secondary school teacher-training entails considerable religious education which is an indicator of the traditional origin of religious radicals.” But there are simpler ways to explain the apparent abundance of teachers in these groups and movements. If data on the representation of teachers in Islamic movements is in fact correct, there are other reasonable explanations of their participation that have to do with personal and organizational strategies rather than with inferences from class background and kinship networks. The first is that Islamist organizations target teachers for recruitment because of their influence over children—and adults—in rural communities (in smaller communities, secondary school teachers are more likely than the general population to be literate and politically aware in the first place). The second is that individuals attracted to the Islamic Trend will tend to select high school teaching as a profession because of its positive social effects. As we saw in the last chapter, Layla al-Shamsi exemplifies this type of linkage, which is likely to be particularly strong in private schools. In the Islamic school where she taught, volunteers from the Islamic activist community played an active part in teaching and administration (one of the volunteers I met was a young man with an Islamic beard, a junior member of the Engineering faculty from Cairo University). [BACK]

19. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 136. [BACK]

20. Max Weber, The Sociology of Religion, p. 137. [BACK]

21. Weber, Sociology of Religion, p. 71. [BACK]

22. Weber, Sociology of Religion, pp. 125, 137. [BACK]

23. Engels reacted to early vulgarizations of Marxist theory by criticizing

the fatuous notion of the ideologists that because we deny an independent historical development to the various ideological spheres which play a part in history we also deny them any effect upon history. The basis of this is the common undialectical conception of cause and effect as rigidly opposite poles, the total disregarding of interaction. These gentlemen often almost deliberately forget that once a historic element has been brought into the world by other, ultimately economic causes, it reacts, can react on its environment and even on the causes that have given rise to it. (Friedrich Engels to Franz Mehring, 14 July 1893, in The Marx-Engels Reader, 2nd ed. Robert Tucker [New York: Norton, 1978], p. 767)


24. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 143. [BACK]

25. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1958), p. 54. [BACK]

26. Karl Marx, “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, p. 595. [BACK]

27. Michael Schudson, Advertising: The Uneasy Persuasion (New York: Basic books, 1984). [BACK]

28. Olivier Roy, The Failure of Political Islam, p. 79. See also Hannah Davis's interview with Rabia Bekkar, “Taking up Space in Tlemcen: The Islamist Occupation of Urban Algeria,” Middle East Report, no. 179 (November–December 1992), pp. 11–15; and Kate Zebiri, “Islamic Revival in Algeria: An Overview,” The Muslim World 83, 3–4 (July–October 1993), pp. 203–26. [BACK]

29. Davis, “Ideology, Social Class, and Islamic Radicalism,” p. 140. [BACK]

30. Ellis Goldberg, “Smashing Idols and the State: The Protestant Ethic and Egyptian Sunni Radicalism,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 31 (1991), pp. 3–35. [BACK]

31. Goldberg, “Smashing Idols,” p. 3. [BACK]

32. Goldberg, “Smashing Idols,” p. 4. [BACK]

33. Goldberg, “Smashing Idols,” p. 28; see also Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt, p. 79. [BACK]

34. Goldberg, “Smashing Idols,” pp. 34–35. [BACK]

35. Brian Spooner, “Weavers and Dealers: The Authenticity of an Oriental Carpet,” in The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective, ed. Arjun Appadurai (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986), pp. 195–235. [BACK]

36. Roy, Failure of Political Islam, pp. 94–95. [BACK]

37. Roy, Failure of Political Islam, p. 103. [BACK]

38. See Carlos Ginsburg, The Cheese and the Worms (New York: Penguin, 1980). [BACK]

39. Raouf Abbas Hamed, “Factors Behind the Political Islamic Movement in Egypt,” paper delivered at the annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association of North America, San Antonio, Texas, 24–26 November 1990, p. 10. Dr. Hamed also notes that the summer camps set up by the government to train young people in proper Islam have been prime recruiting grounds for Islamic radical groups. [BACK]

40. Catherine Lutz and Jane Collins, Reading National Geographic (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), p. 233. [BACK]

41. Mitchell, Colonising Egypt, p. 124. [BACK]

42. “What seems to be most required for progress…is to evolve the best type of rural school, adapted to the special practical needs of agricultural districts, and when this has been done we may confidently hope to see a considerable increase in the number of boys educated. It must not be forgotten that any hasty or unthought-out development of education in rural districts, unless it is carefully adapted to rural necessities, may imperil the agricultural interests on which the prosperity of the country so largely depends. A rural exodus in Egypt would be an economic and social disaster of considerable magnitude.” Kitchener, Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1912, vol. 121, p. 4. [BACK]

43. Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. 1, p. 319. “It is by no means desirable,” he wrote one page earlier, “that the flower of the working class, or their children, should learn to despise manual labour and the simple, inexpensive habits of their parents, in order to become very commonplace doctors, attorneys, clerks, or newspaper writers.” Perhaps the flower of the working class were listening to the contemporary equivalent of Willie Nelson's sage advice, “Mamas, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” in which medicine and law are compared favorably to the simple, inexpensive habits of playing guitar and riding around in old pickup trucks. [BACK]

44. Lecky, Democracy and Liberty, vol. 1, pp. 319–20. [BACK]

45. Cromer, Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1907, vol. 100, p. 630. [BACK]

46. Cromer, Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1903, vol. 87, p. 1011; Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1906, vol. 137, p. 566. Cf. Bowring,

No sooner has a boy learned to read and to write, than he is unwilling to pursue any trade, whatever prospects it may offer of reputation, usefulness, or even wealth. The boy will rather be a scribe with small, than an artisan with large, emoluments. To obtain the name of effendi is an object of higher ambition than to lay the foundation even of opulence. This defect pervades the whole of Oriental society, and is an impassable barrier to the advance of the general prosperity. (“Report on Egypt and Candia,” p. 137)


47. Cromer, Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1906, pp. 720–21. [BACK]

48. Ministry of Education, Report of the Elementary Education Commission, p. 40. [BACK]

49. “Further Correspondences Respecting Reorganization in Egypt,” Parl. Pap., 1883, vol. 83, p. 47. [BACK]

50. Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen, p. 87. [BACK]

51. “Government of the Indian Empire,” Edinburgh Review 159 (January–April 1884), pp. 11–12. [BACK]

52. “[I]deas about separating, purifying, demarcating…have as their main function to impose system on an inherently untidy experience. It is only by exaggerating the difference between within and without, above and below, male and female, with and against, that a semblance of order is created.” Douglas, Purity and Danger, p. 4. [BACK]

53. Douglas, Purity and Danger, pp. 96, 104. [BACK]

54. Roger Owen, “Anthropology and Imperial Administration: Sir Alfred Lyall and the Official Use of Theories of Social Change Developed in India after 1857,” in Anthropology and the Colonial Encounter, ed. Talal Asad (London: Ithaca Press), pp. 241–42. [BACK]

55. Sir Henry Sumner Maine, Ancient Law (n.p.: Dorset Press, 1986 [1861]), p. 140. [BACK]

56. Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings, p. 23. [BACK]

57. Owen, “Anthropology and Imperial Administration,” p. 230. [BACK]

58. Cromer, Annual Report, Parl. Pap., 1895, vol. 109, p. 12. Quoted in Owen, “Anthropology and Imperial Administration,” p. 242. [BACK]

59. Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings, p. 148. [BACK]

60. Jeremy Bentham, “Of the Influence of Time and Place in Matters of Legislation,” in The Works of Jeremy Bentham, ed John Bowring, p. 191. See Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings, p. 183; for Ottoman understandings of legal reform during the Tanzimat period, see Messick, The Calligraphic State, p. 64. [BACK]

61. Mitchell, Colonising Egypt, pp. 156–60. [BACK]

62. One interesting, almost parenthetical, result of schooling's growing importance to the Egyptian economy was a new way of describing educated individuals that matched them to their function. After European training, the native was transformed metaphorically from an untamed beast into a handy tool, a commodity that could be traded on the open market. In the Annual Report of 1903 (Parl. Pap., vol. 87, p. 1034), Cromer quoted Mr. Currie, the director general of education for the Sudan, on his “heartfelt pity” for the beleaguered local administrators who had to rely on Egyptian help:

Their clerical staff is beyond description bad. Add to this the fact that it is proportionately expensive and absolutely unacclimatized, and I think the need for higher primary schools, as a matter of urgency, is made out.

In a couple of years, even without the institution of any beginning of secondary education, these schools will turn out a product infinitely better than is often found here at present, and, it is important to remember, a product at once acclimatized and comparatively cheap.

Though the mechanical analogy was not restricted to official usage, neither was it universally praised. Florence Nightingale, writing to her mother after an 1850 visit to a convent school in Alexandria, recalled with distaste “the patent improved-man-making principle at home—the machine warranted to turn out children wholesale, like pins, with patent heads,—I did not wonder at the small success of our education.” Nightingale, Letters, p. 204.

As early as 1829 Thomas Carlyle characterized his times as The Mechanical Age, both because of the booming metallic din of factory machinery and because of “the deep, almost exclusive faith we have in Mechanism…in the Politics of this time.…We term it indeed, in ordinary language, the Machine of Society, and talk of it as the grand working wheel from which all private machines must derive, or to which they must adapt, their movements.” “Signs of the Times,” in his Selected Writings, ed. Alan Shelston (New York: Penguin, 1971), p. 70. [BACK]

63. I owe this and part of the succeeding discussion to Christopher Herbert's Culture and Anomie. [BACK]

64. Herbert, Culture and Anomie, pp. 36–8. [BACK]

65. Herbert, Culture and Anomie, pp. 39–40. [BACK]

66. Mitchell, Colonising Egypt, p. 175. [BACK]

67. W. Cooke Taylor, ca. 1840, quoted in Herbert, Culture and Anomie, p. 62. [BACK]

68. Herbert, Culture and Anomie, pp. 64–65. [BACK]

69. In addition to Fabian's Time and the Other, see Adam Kuper, The Invention of Primitive Society: Transformations of an Illusion (London: Routledge, 1988). [BACK]

70. Herbert, Culture and Anomie, pp. 65–66. [BACK]

71. In 1988 an international conference in Cairo actually contained a discussion between Arab intellectuals about whether peasants did or did not have “culture,” so such perspectives have hardly disappeared from the intellectual landscape. [BACK]

72. Educational Planning Unit, Ministry of Education, Government of Egypt, “Reform of the Educational System of Egypt: A Sector Assessment,” draft, USAID Development Information Center, 8 January 1990, pp. 14, 106. See also Dr. Ahmed Fathy Surour, Towards Education Reform in Egypt: A Strategy for Reform and Examples of Implementation, 1987–1990 (Cairo: Al-Ahram Commercial Presses, 1991). [BACK]

73. Hamed, “Factors Behind the Political Islamic Movement,” p. 1. [BACK]

74. Saadek Samaan, an Egyptian educator writing in the early years of the Nasser period, wrote that reactionaries like Hasan al-Banna “are advocating a strong theocracy modeled after that of the ninth-century society of Arabia,” Value Reconstruction and Egyptian Education (New York: Bureau of Publications, Teacher's College, Columbia University, 1955), p. 19. [BACK]

75. Galal Amin, “Migration, Inflation and Social Mobility: A Sociological Interpretation of Egypt's Current Economic and Political Crisis,” in Egypt Under Mubarak, ed. Charles Tripp and Roger Owen (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 118. [BACK]

76. ‘Abd Allah Imam, “Al-Khawarij al-judud!” Ruz al-Yusuf, 17 April 1989, pp. 30–33; Muhammad Sa‘id al-‘Ashmawi, “Al-Sira‘ al-hadari fi al-Islam,” al-Azmina, January–February 1989, pp. 18–27. Talal Asad has pointed out that this representation of Islamic society as composed of “protagonists engaged in a dramatic struggle” is widespread in the anthropology and historiography of Islam; “The Idea of an Anthropology of Islam.” Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, Occasional Papers Series, Georgetown University, 1986, p. 8. [BACK]

77. Even the unconscious motivations that scholars like Davis impute to modern-day radicals match quite precisely the idiom of recapturing the past that Raymond Williams has traced through British “pastoral” literature in The Country and the City (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973), pp. 290–304. [BACK]

78. Amira el-Azhary Sonbol, “Egypt,” in The Politics of Islamic Revivalism, ed. Shireen Hunter (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1988), p. 35. Her faulty perception of Islamic instruction in Egypt is due in part to misunderstanding the reason why different kinds of Islam are not discussed. For pedagogical purposes, there is only one kind of Islam. [BACK]

79. An editorial in al-Ahram, quoted in Charles Hirschkind, “Culture and Counterterrorism: Notes on Contemporary Public Discourse in Egypt,” paper presented at the 1993 meetings of the Middle East Studies Association, Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. [BACK]

80. Charles Hirschkind, personal communication. For an outstanding survey of media depictions of education as a modernizing force, see Walter Armbrust, Mass Culture and Modernism in Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996). James P. Young has pointed out, after Jacques Ellul, that not only is education no prophylactic against propaganda, but it “makes propaganda possible, helps propaganda accomplish its ends, and is in many ways itself a form of propaganda.” “Intimate Allies in Migration: Education and Propaganda in a Philippine Village,” Comparative Education Review 26 (1982), p. 218. [BACK]

81. Olivier Roy sees the resurrection of the Sufi ideal of the insan kamil, or “ideal man,” as a feature of Islamist thought, but in fact its resurrection can be traced to the work of modern educational elites generally; see his Failure of Political Islam, p. 101. [BACK]

82. With apologies to Melford Spiro, on whose paper title, “Religious Systems as Culturally Constituted Defense Mechanisms” (in Context and Meaning in Anthropology, ed. Melford Spiro [New York: The Free Press, 1965], pp. 100–13), this phrase is modeled. [BACK]

83. Hani Sharif Mahmud, interview, 18 April 1989, p. 342. [BACK]

84. MacLeod, Accommodating Protest, p. 110. [BACK]

85. Hoffman, “Muslim Fundamentalists: Psychosocial Profiles,” p. 221. [BACK]

86. Hani Sharif Mahmud, interview, 18 April 1989, p. 342. [BACK]

87. John Aloysius Farrel, “Clinton Calls for Religion in Schools,” Boston Globe, 13 July 1995, p. 1. [BACK]

88. For a discussion of the sources of the American government's understanding of the category “religion,” see James Tabor and Eugene Gallagher, Why Waco? Cults and the Battle for Religious Freedom in America (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1995). [BACK]

89. Michael Herzfeld, The Social Production of Indifference: Exploring the Symbolic Roots of Western Bureaucracy (New York: Berg, 1992). [BACK]

90. Victoria Bernal, “Gender, Culture, and Capitalism: Women and the Remaking of Islamic “Tradition” in a Sudanese Village,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 36 (1994), p. 42. [BACK]

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