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The Dispersion Of Egyptian Jewry: Culture, Politics, And The Formation Of Modern Diaspora
by Joel Beinin
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Egypt’s indigenous Jewish population comprised Arabic-speaking Rabbanite and Karaite Jews, some of whom had been in the country since the early Islamic era. The Jews expelled from Spain in 1492 took refuge in Egypt, and Sephardic immigrants augmented their numbers in the midnineteenth century. Originally welcomed elsewhere in the Ottoman Empire, these Spanish Jews came to Egypt seeking economic opportunity in the era of Suez Canal construction and the cotton boom. The late nineteenth century brought Ashkenazi Jews fleeing persecution in Eastern Europe. The different groups formed a heterogeneous community of cosmopolitan hybrids, which were both an element of strength and a factor in its eventual demise.
The Dispersion of Egyptian Jewry examines the history of the Egyptian Jewish community after 1948. It focuses on three major areas: the life of the majority of the community, which remained in Egypt from the1948 Arab-Israeli War until the aftermath of the 1956 Suez/Sinai War; the dispersion and reestablishment of Egyptian Jewish communities in the United States, France, and Israel; and contested memories of Jewish life in Egypt since President Anwar al-Sadat’s visit to Jerusalem in 1977. Fusing history, ethnography, literary analysis, and autobiography, Joel Beinin conducts an interdisciplinary investigation into identity, dispersion, and the retrieval of identity that is relevant for anyone interested in Egypt, the Jewish Diaspora, or the formation of cultures and identities.
From the Back Cover
"The best sort of historical revisionism (sophisticated but unobtrusive in its use of theory, consistently contextual in its assessment of sources and texts, open-ended and suggestive of broader implications in its conclusions." (James Jankowski, coauthor of Redefining the Egyptian Nation, 1930-1945)
About the Author
Joel Beinin is professor of Middle East history at Stanford University. His latest book is Workers and Peasants in the Modern Middle East (2001). He was president of the Middle East Studies Association of North America in 2001-02.
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