Added: November 11, 2006 – Last updated: April 8, 2017


Author: Marilyn Booth

Title: Un/safe/ly at Home

Subtitle: Narratives of Sexual Coercion in 1920s Egypt

Journal: Gender & History

Volume: 16

Issue: 3

Year: November 2004 (Published online: December 13, 2004)

Pages: 744-768

ISSN: 0953-5233 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1468-0424 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | African History: Egyptian History | Representations: Literary Texts / Zaynab Muhammad, Muhammad Ahmad Yusuf



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Author: Marilyn Booth, Faculty of Oriental Studies, University of OxfordWikipedia


– »This paper takes up an Arabic narrative genre that appeared in the 1920s. Its distinctive narrative properties included adoption of a first-person female experiental voice and a focus on 'impolite' social realms. Combining confessional exposé and social polemic in what I am calling 'simulated memoirs', these narrating voices offered readers the narrative authority of first-hand experience in Cairo's underworld and critique of elite politics and spaces of behaviour from the constructed perspective of subaltern social figures. I argue that these text's inscriptions of bodily coercion trace an anxiety about growing female visibility throughout urban space. Construction of feminine narrative voices apparently wrests authority to speak about gendered bodily violence away from elite, mostly male commentators and representatives of the state, transferring that authority to the figure of the 'fallen' female who 'speaks'. But this is an act of ventriloquism: complex layerings of authorial and narrative attribution recoup that authority, reasserting the disciplinary power of the patriarchal father over the lives and vulnerabilities of the young.« (Source: Gender & History)

– »One response to the anxieties over the effects of Western culture disseminated in Egypt, in particular through an increase in publications on women after World War I, was the appearance in the 1920's of titles such as Memoirs of an Egyptian Lady's Companion (1927) and Diaries of a Fallen Woman, whose authors were men. The supposed narrators' experiences exposed the dangers that modern, Western influences posed to traditional values, which the protagonists of the narratives resisted by maintaining the principles of patriarchal authority.« (Source: Historical Abstracts)

Lecture: Booth, Marilyn. »Un/safe/ly at Home: Narratives of Sexual Coercion in 1920s Egypt.« 13th Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. Claremont 2005. – Bibliographic Entry: Info

Wikipedia: History of Africa: History of Egypt / Sultanate of Egypt, Kingdom of Egypt | Literature: Egyptian literature