Maadi

Maadi

The Making and Unmaking of a Cairo Suburb, 1878-1962

Annalise J K DeVries
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A fresh perspective on the global economic influences that shaped modern Egypt through the history of an affluent Cairo suburb, MaadiIn the early years of the twentieth century, a group of Egypt' s real-estate and transportation moguls embarked on the creation of a new residential establishment south of Cairo. The development was to epitomize the latest in community planning, merging attributes of town and country to create an idyllic domestic retreat just a short train ride away from the busy city center. They called the new community Maadi, after the ancient village that had long stood on the eastern bank of the Nile. Over the fifty years that followed, this new, modern Maadi would be associated with what many believed to be the best of modern Egypt: spacious villas, lush gardens, popular athleticism, and, most of all, profitability. Maadi: The Making and Unmaking of a Cairo Suburb, 1878-1962 explores Maadi' s foundation and development, identifying how foreign economic privileges were integral to fashioning its idyllic qualities. While Maadi became home to influential Egyptians, including nationalists and royalty, it always remained exclusive--too exclusive to appeal to the growing number of lower-income Egyptians making homes in the capital. Annalise DeVries shows how Maadi' s history offers a fresh perspective on the global economic influences that shaped modern Egyptian history, as they helped configure not only the country' s politics but also the social and cultural practices of the well-to-do. Ultimately the means of Maadi' s appeal also paved the path for its undoing. When foreign tax and legal privileges were abolished, Maadi, too, became untethered from a vision for Egypt' s future and instead appeared more and more as a figure of the country' s past.
"This richly researched, engagingly written social and economic history of a single Cairo suburb deftly captures the central role that foreign capital and the laws governing it played in driving Maadi' s development from its founding at the turn of the twentieth century until the end of the Delta Land Company' s stewardship of the suburb in the 1950s. DeVries sheds fascinating light on the major players, including foreign business owners and former colonial civil servants, many of whom came out of the colonial administration of Egypt, who were the engine of that growth, while dealing intelligently with the relationship of Maadi and its founders to the developments in the political, economic, and social history of Egypt in the first half of the twentieth century. "--Robert L. Tignor, Princeton UniversityAnnalise DeVries' s wonderfully detailed Maadi is a gift for all those who love the history of the changing face of modern Cairo. --Robert Vitalis, University of PennsylvaniaAnnalise DeVries has given readers a lively world history of an Egyptian village' s transformation into a cosmopolitan-, colonial-, status-, race-, religious-, and nationalist-inflected locale in all its complexity. Over the course of less than a century, Maadi was a rich focal point of individual lives and aspirations, while it was also enmeshed in the development of local and international capitalism and the politics of empire and decolonization. The amazing cast of characters alone will hold readers in its grasp. --Bonnie Smith, Rutgers University
Annalise J. K. DeVries teaches at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama.