Cairo: Histories of a City

By Nezar AlSayyad

From its earliest days as a royal payment fronting the pyramids of Giza to its present manifestation because the biggest city in Africa, Cairo has eternally captured the city pulse of the center East. In Cairo: Histories of a City, Nezar AlSayyad narrates the various Cairos that experience existed all through time, providing a breathtaking view of the city’s background unequalled in temporal and geographic scope, via an in-depth exam of its structure and concrete form.

In twelve vignettes, followed by way of drawings, images, and maps, AlSayyad information the shifts in Cairo’s equipped setting via tales of vital figures who marked the cityscape with their own pursuits and their political ideologies. the town is visually reconstructed and taken to lifestyles not just as a actual cloth but in addition as a social and political order—a urban outfitted inside, upon, and over, leading to a present-day richly layered city setting. each one bankruptcy makes an attempt to trap a defining second within the lifestyles trajectory of a urban enjoyed for all of its evocations and contradictions. all through, AlSayyad illuminates not just the areas that make up Cairo but in addition the figures that formed them, together with its chroniclers, from Herodotus to Mahfouz, who recorded the deeds of significant and usual Cairenes alike. He can pay specific cognizance to how the imperatives of Egypt's numerous rulers and regimes—from the pharaohs to Sadat and beyond—have inscribed themselves within the urban that citizens navigate today.

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This serious view has taken time to increase. while I wrote my first booklet, The Streets of Islamic Cairo, in 1981, i used to be nonetheless lower than the city’s spell. yet by way of 1991, with the ebook of towns and Caliphs, which learn Fatimid Cairo as a colonial royal compound, my uncritical love affair with the town got here to an finish. I then spent numerous years within the Nineties development an problematic laptop version of town. This finally led to a winning public tv documentary that offered a bright, simulated snapshot of the advance of the medieval urban over a five-hundred-year interval to most people and scholars of structure and concrete historical past. regardless of all of those engagements, I by no means relatively desired to write a complete ebook at the historical past of town. the duty, i assumed, used to be risky and most unlikely, and that i had easily assumed that to do it justice may eat my lifestyles. So while Dr. Sharmila Sen, a humanities editor at Harvard college Press and a student in her personal correct, proposed the undertaking to me virtually 4 years in the past, i need to confess that i used to be reluctant to take it on. even though, the phrases of Janet Abu-Lughod, writer of the nowclassic Cairo: 1001 Years of the town triumphant, who scolded me a decade prior through asking, “When will you do your ebook on Cairo? ” saved ringing in my ears. Sharmila gave me super freedom to type this e-book within the approach that i wished, which certainly made it very tough for me to withstand. i ultimately succumbed to the temptation and signed directly to do the undertaking. x Cairo: Histories of a urban In embarking in this paintings, I had already been uncovered to many of the fundamental and secondary resources at the urban. ancient treatises on Cairo from Maqrizi to Ali Mubarak have been crucial in grounding me within the primary texts. The paintings of Egyptian students, from Abdulrahman Zaki to Gamal Hamdan, jogged my memory of the significance of viewing town via local eyes. The writings of Max Rodenbeck and Maria Golia, writers and newshounds who fell in love with town, afforded me exposures to varied viewpoints. and at last, the paintings of the well known modern historians of Cairo, Janet Abu-Lughod and André Raymond, supplied me with a competent body of reference. The paintings of serious novelists who've written in regards to the urban rendered major concept. Naguib Mahfouz’s Cairo Trilogy, from Palace stroll (1956) to Sugar road (1957), was once an important. Khairy Shalaby’s Rehalat al-Torshagy al-Halwagy (translated in English because the Time-Travels of the guy Who bought Pickles and Sweets), a unique during which the writer strikes historic figures out in their instances to fulfill him in modern areas, was once the main leading edge. Alaa Al-Aswany’s The Yacoubian development (2002), which captures the heritage of town over a number of many years within the 20th century within the type of an condo construction, was once the bravest. and at last, Gamal al-Ghitani’s brief and lengthy tales that flip the historical past of the town into fiction have been the main attractive. i'm thankful to every and each certainly one of them at once and not directly.

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