Cairo’s Coffeehouses In The Late Nineteenth- And Early Twentieth-Centuries: An Urban And Socio-Political History

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Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
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Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations
Islamic World and Near East History
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ABSTRACT CAIRO’S COFFEEHOUSES IN THE LATE NINETEENTH- AND EARLY TWENTIETH-CENTURIES: AN URBAN AND SOCIO-POLITICAL HISTORY Alon Tam Heather J. Sharkey Coffeehouses in nineteenth- and twentieth-century Cairo were an urban hub for working- and middle-class men, as well as for a growing number of women, for politicians, revolutionaries, intellectuals, and journalists, for immigrants and locals, and for people from different ethnic, racial, and religious communities. Indeed, coffeehouses were a fundamental social and cultural, even political, institution. They were embedded in Cairo’s landscape, and in the daily routines of its inhabitants. Their emergence offered new opportunities for socializing to more groups in society, they were a place of leisure and entertainment that supported popular culture, and they were a crucial part of the political public sphere. Using a rich mix of sources, such as spy reports, photographs, memoirs, guides, various descriptions of Cairo and its inhabitants, interviews, census data, and newspapers, this study traces the rich history of Cairo’s coffeehouses roughly from the 1870s to 1919, with an in depth look also at their longue durée history before the late nineteenth century. This study aims to show how the history of coffeehouses as actual places, not merely theorized sites, can shed light on a variety of critical developments. In particular, the history of Cairo’s coffeehouses illuminates many broader histories involving, for example, the construction of social hierarchies, the performance of class and gender, urban and economic development in Cairo, the assertion of colonialism and state-led surveillance, the construction of nationalism and mass politics, and more

Heather J. Sharkey
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