Liberalism without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt, 1922-1936

By Jacob, Wilson Chacko | African Studies Review, December 2007 | Go to article overview

Liberalism without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt, 1922-1936


Jacob, Wilson Chacko, African Studies Review


Abdeslam M. Maghraoui. Liberalism without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt, 1922-1936. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2006. xx + 192 pp. Notes. Bibliography. Index. $74.95. Cloth. $21.95. Paper,

The question of how to assess the impact of the "West" without eliding the internal dynamics of change animates many new studies on the history and politics of Egypt. Indeed, the very meaning of the "colonial" in Egyptian history is subject to reexamination. Abdeslam M. Maghraoui attempts to do this by providing a cultural analysis of why liberalism failed in Egypt during the interwar period.

Relying on a linguistic definition of culture derived from Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, and drawing on the discourses of a handful of liberal reformers whom he terms "secular modernists," Maghraoui charts the unconscious workings of Egyptian liberalism as essentially the expression of the desire to become "Other," that is, to become European. The exclusionary politics of identity that resulted were, he asserts, the bases of liberalism's failure in Egypt. This heavy-handed application of Lacanian metaphors of self-recognition (such as the "mirror stage" of infants) to explain Egyptian political maturation-or lack thereof-is problematic, to say the least. As a historian of the interwar period in Egypt, I have objections to this study that are primarily of a historical nature and may be overly empiricist; but it is precisely the author's failure to attend to history as more than a reservoir of "telling moments" that undermines the potential theoretical contribution of this work both to history and to the author's own discipline of political science.

The promise, as well as the fundamental flaws, of this study might be gleaned from chapter 1, "Colonialism as a Literary and Historical Phenomenon." Leaving aside the very general and dated observations about the usefulness of such postcolonial theorists as Bhabha, Spivak, and Said in developing a nuanced understanding of the colonizer-colonized relationship, there is some value to the author's reading of Lacan alongside Fanon in order to foreground the intangible factors behind the appropriation of liberalism in Egypt. Maghraoui writes, "To reduce the appropriation of Western political institutions to some objective reality, whether social, economic, or cultural, would be equivalent to confusing 'desire,' which is mental, with 'need,' which is physical, thereby privileging biological instinct over meaning in the march toward achieving emancipation" (35). …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Liberalism without Democracy: Nationhood and Citizenship in Egypt, 1922-1936
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.