A City Consumed: Urban Commerce, the Cairo Fire, and the Politics of Decolonization in Egypt

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Stanford University Press, Jul 11, 2012 - History - 376 pages
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Though now remembered as an act of anti-colonial protest leading to the Egyptian military coup of 1952, the Cairo Fire that burned through downtown stores and businesses appeared to many at the time as an act of urban self-destruction and national suicide. The logic behind this latter view has now been largely lost. Offering a revised history, Nancy Reynolds looks to the decades leading up to the fire to show that the lines between foreign and native in city space and commercial merchandise were never so starkly drawn. Consumer goods occupied an uneasy place on anti-colonial agendas for decades in Egypt before the great Cairo Fire. Nationalist leaders frequently railed against commerce as a form of colonial captivity, yet simultaneously expanded local production and consumption to anchor a newly independent economy. Close examination of struggles over dress and shopping reveals that nationhood coalesced informally from the conflicts and collaboration of consumers "from below" as well as more institutional and prescriptive mandates.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
1 The EverMelting City
17
2 Department Stores and Downtown Shopping
47
3 Anticolonial Boycotts and National Trade
78
4 Socks Shoes and Marketing Mass Consumption
114
5 Postwar Commodity Parables and the Crackingof Late Colonialism
145
6 The Cairo Fire and Postcolonial Consumption
181
Conclusion
220
Epilogue
228
Notes
233
Bibliography
317
Index
345
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About the author (2012)

Nancy Y. Reynolds is Assistant Professor of History at Washington University in St. Louis.

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