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Textbook Maneuvers: Evangelicals and Educational Reform in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

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Author: Paul Sedra
This dissertation aims to expose the connections between textuality, morality, and political power in nineteenth-century Egypt. The thesis of the dissertation is that the principal aim of nineteenth-century educationalists in Egypt was to eliminate an oral culture in which the speakers of words, rather than texts, were bearers of authority. By eliminating that oral culture, educationalists aspired to depersonalize authority — that is, influence the behavior of subaltern Egyptians on a mass scale, without regard to particular circumstances or contexts. To this end, the dissertation offers a detailed interrogation of particular moments in Egyptian educational history. These are moments of contestation as to both the methods and the purposes of education — contestation between Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries, Ottoman and Egyptian officials, Coptic priests and Muslim reformers, and landowners of both faiths on the one hand, and the subaltern inhabitants of the Nile Valley on the other. While focusing heavily upon the educationalists involved in movements for educational reform in nineteenth- century Egypt, such as John Lieder and Joseph Hekekyan, the dissertation ventures further than past works in this vein, exploring how subalterns resisted the technologies of power deployed by ‘modern,’ ‘educated’ elites, and how such elites molded the technologies to meet the challenge of resistance in local contexts.
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