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The Age of the EfendiyyaPassages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt$
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Lucie Ryzova

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199681778

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199681778.001.0001

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Recognizing the Efendi

Recognizing the Efendi

(p.38) 2 Recognizing the Efendi
The Age of the Efendiyya

Lucie Ryzova

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses the meanings of the category efendi through the colonial period. “Being an efendi” was always synonymous with “being modern,” but “modernity” had many vernacular interpretations. For some (or in some situations), it rested in external diacritica of appearance; for others it was a matter of education and employment, or of particular habits and practices; for yet others modernity entailed claims on new kinds of knowledge and as such justified particular social, cultural, or political positions. In popular culture, the efendi became conflated with a class position. It came to signify a rising national middle class defined against two contrastive social others: “traditional society” whose lack of “modernity” translated as backwardness bestowed on them a marginal position; and colonial elites whose excessive westernization and lack of “authentic roots” made them into lockays of colonial interests. Popular culture of the colonial period constructed the efendi as morally superior to both, as the only social category in possession of both modernity and authentic roots.

Keywords:   Egyptian modernity, middle Class, modern Egyptian men, efendi, efendiyya, traditional, modern, local modernity, indigenous modernity, vernacular modernity, Egyptian cinema

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