A Tale of Two Factions
Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen
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Reevaluates the foundation myths of two rival factions in Egypt during the Ottoman era.
Winner of the 2003 Ohio Academy of History Outstanding Publication Award
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.
Jane Hathaway is Associate Professor of History at Ohio State University, the author of The Politics of Households in Ottoman Egypt: The Rise of the Qazdag¨lis, and editor of Rebellion, Repression, Reinvention: Mutiny in Comparative Perspective.
"…with skill, tact, and intellectual rigor [Hathaway] show[s] how Egypt functioned as an integral part of the Ottoman Empire in which multiple cultural and political forces … combined and intertwined to produce a specific kind of multilayered Ottoman social, cultural, and political milieu … It adds much to our understanding of one of the most significant social phenomena of Ottoman Egypt—the Faqari-Qasimi rivalry—and traces the important connections between Egypt and Yemen." — MIT Electronic Journal of Middle East Studies
"Rather than simply laying out alternative narratives and interpretations of the evolution of faction and myth, Hathaway untangles some of the puzzles of identification that inhabit these narratives. Her work will prove significant not only for Ottoman and Mamluk specialists seeking concrete scholarly documentation but also for those exploring the historiography, literature, and politics of notables in other regions." — Journal of Early Modern History
"Her work will prove significant not only for Ottoman and Mamluk specialists seeking concrete scholarly documentation but also for those exploring the historiography, literature, and politics of notables in other regions." — Journal of Early Modern History
"An outstanding and original piece of historical work that is a tremendous addition to the historiography of the early modern Ottoman Empire." — Gabriel Piterberg, author of An Ottoman Tragedy: History and Historiography at Play
"Hathaway addresses a number of important questions: How do we understand the formation of political identities in the early modern period? In what ways do public rituals, folklore, and myths of origin factor into the formation of these identities? She elegantly draws us into the cultural world of an era that is gone and opens up new avenues for research on political culture in the early modern period." — Dina Rizk Khoury, author of State and Provincial Society in the Ottoman Empire: Mosul, 1540–1834