Doria Shafik Egyptian Feminist : A Woman apart

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American Univ in Cairo Press, 1996 - Biography & Autobiography - 322 pages
Cynthia Nelson brings to life a bold and gifted Egyptian of the mid-twentieth century who helped define what it means to be a modern Arab woman. Doria Shafik (1908-1975), an Egyptian feminist, poet, publisher, and political activist, participated in one of her country's most explosive periods of social and political transformation. During the '40s she burst onto the public stage in Egypt, openly challenging every social, cultural, and legal barrier that she viewed as oppressive to the full equality of women. As the founder of the Daughters of the Nile Union in 1948, she catalyzed a movement that fought for suffrage and set up programs to combat illiteracy, provide economic opportunities for lower-class urban women, and raise the consciousness of middle-class university students. She also founded and edited two prominent women's journals, wrote books in both French and Arabic, lectured throughout the world, married, and raised two children. For a decade, she ignited the imagination of the press, where she was variously described as the "perfumed leader," a "danger to the Muslim nation," a "traitor to the revolution," and the "only man in Egypt." Then, in 1957, following her hunger strike in protest against the populist regime of Gamal Abdul Nasser, she was placed under house arrest. Within months her magazines folded, her name was officially banned from the press, and she entered a long period of seclusion that ended with her suicide in 1975. With the cooperation of Shafik's daughters, who made available her three impressionistic, unpublished, and sometimes contradictory memoirs, Nelson has uncovered Shafik's story and brings the life and achievements of this remarkable woman to a Western audience. "Brilliantly re-creates the untold story of Doria Shafik, the most impressive exponent of liberal Egyptian feminism. . . . Magically, the delicately sketched background gives the reader a wonderful sense of the sweep of modern Egyptian history. . . . The effect is mesmerizing." --Raymond W. Baker, Williams College "A compelling story, beautifully written." --Jacqueline S. Ismail, University of Calgary

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Doria Shafik, Egyptian feminist: a woman apart

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For Western women, reading biographies of Middle Eastern women is often a chilling reminder of how terrible sexual inequality is outside of the Western world. Doria Shafik was born into a comfortable ... Read full review

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A wonderful book with fair assessment of the life of such a great character. Its hard to believe that a woman stood alone without even her own family support against an entire regime.


The Awakening 19081928
The Turning Point 19281944
In Search of Love 19321936
Return to the City of Light 19361939
A Stranger in Her Own Land 19391942
The Turning Point 19421944
Into the Limelight 19451947
Carrying the Banner 19481950
Divergent Paths 1954
Pursuing the Absolute 19541957
The Beginning of the End 19551957
A Woman Alone 1957
Solitude 19571975
Life as a Work of Art

Storming the Parliament 1951

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About the author (1996)

Cynthia Nelson is Dean of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at the American University in Cairo. She is the author of articles in Women's Studies International Forum, Feminist Issues, American Anthropologist, MESA Bulletin, and Alif: Journal ofComparative Poetics.

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