Colonial Bridgehead: Government and Society in Alexandria, 1807-1882

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Westview Press, 1997 - History - 251 pages
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At the end of the eighteenth century, Alexandria was a small unimposing town along Egypt's northern coast. Less than a century later, the city had become a busy hub of Mediterranean commerce and Egypt's master link to the international economy. This is the first book-length study to examine the modern transformation of the city—the surges of internal and international migration to Alexandria that produced this remarkable growth; the spatial patterns of residence and employment; and the complex nature of intercommunal relations in the rapidly expanding port. The author argues that the history of Alexandria demonstrates a fundamental paradox of colonial urbanism: The city became more cosmopolitan and more closely integrated into the mainstream of Egypt's evolving economy and society. The product of these contradictory impulses was a community that was both bridgehead for colonial domination and crucible for an incipient nationalism.Making use of both local government records and consular reports, Reimer demonstrates that Alexandria advanced colonialism in Egypt by accelerating dependence on agricultural exports, providing vital services to European businesses, and hosting the country's most obstreperous community of foreign nationals. Equally important, leaders in Alexandria's European colony, together with local authorities, redefined relations between the government and urban society through the creation of new administrative agencies that dealt with such matters as public health, construction, traffic, and crime.

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