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Representing the West in the Writings of Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ Al-Ṭahṭāwī, Muḥammad ʿAbduh, and ʿAbd Allah Al-Nadīm

Al-Omary, Aisha; (2021) Representing the West in the Writings of Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ Al-Ṭahṭāwī, Muḥammad ʿAbduh, and ʿAbd Allah Al-Nadīm. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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Abstract

This thesis approaches representations of the West in the writings of three Egyptian intellectuals in the 19th century. The writings of Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ Al-Ṭahṭāwī, Muḥammad ʿAbduh, and ʿAbdullah Al-Nadīm reveal the social and cultural challenges under the pressure of Westernisation. My original contribution to knowledge is to show that Occidentalism and selective rejection of Western culture functioned as a strategic tool of containing Westernisation by maintaining difference and guarding identity. This was necessary for these authors who wanted to heal society from Eastern decadence without losing cultural and religious authenticity. The introduction explores the research question, explaining several key terms, and setting the boundaries of the research. The first chapter provides a historical context of Egypt and the influence of Westernisation on society and culture. The second chapter is a literature review on the Nahḍa and Occidentalism that highlights how conventional scholarship tends to overemphasise Westernised figures and texts and gives little attention to cultural processes other than straightforward Westernisation. Chapter three discusses Al-Ṭahṭāwī as the first Arab Occidentalist. The chapter will focus on Al-Ṭahṭāwī’s 1934 travelogue on his time in France where we find an attempt to negotiate a modern Egyptian identity in relation to Europe. Chapter four looks at representations of the West in ʿAbduh’s debates with French historian Gabriel Hanotaux. Within the context of defending Islam, ʿAbduh rejects the rigid polarity between East and West and questions the universality of European modernity. Chapter Five draws attention to Al-Nadīm’s ‘glowing hatred’ of Europe. Al-Nadīm used representations of the West to stir anti-European feelings in his readers during the revolution and after occupation. The Conclusion stresses the importance of studying the phenomenon of Arab Occidentalism as a tool of containing Westernisation. Ultimately, this thesis seeks to stress the complexity of the legacy of the Nahḍa which is often reduced to a process of Westernisation.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Representing the West in the Writings of Rifāʿah Rāfiʿ Al-Ṭahṭāwī, Muḥammad ʿAbduh, and ʿAbd Allah Al-Nadīm
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2021. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > CMII
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10140598
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