Book Reviews Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture. By ziad fahmy. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2011. 264 pp. $80.00 (cloth); $24.95 (paper and e-book). Are nations mere figments of a distinctively modern collective imagination, or are they primordial entities taking different shapes at different times, or are they something in between? As far as modern nation-states go, this question has largely been decided by cultural historians in favor of the "imagined community." To this now vast literature, informed by Benedict Anderson's seminal work and the "linguistic turn" in general, we can include Ziad Fahmy's engaging book Ordinary Egyptians: Creating the Modern Nation through Popular Culture. Fahmy's book both complements and extends the findings of this large body of work by taking yet another "turn" via sources that engage senses other than the visual alone. This other turn is set within the rubric of "media capitalism" and marks a departure from what Fahmy regards as the narrow terms of Anderson's "print capitalism." The latter, he argues, makes it difficult to explain the dynamics involved in the project of imagining the nation in a largely peasant and illiterate society such as Egypt around the turn of
Journal of World History – University of Hawai'I Press
Published: Aug 7, 2013
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