Sunday, September 25, 2011

Book Review: Making Cairo Medieval

CairObserver (Reviewed by Seif El Rashidi, Aga Khan Cultural Services, Egypt)

Nezar AlSayyad, Irene Bierman, Nasser Rabbat, eds. Making Cairo Medieval. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2005. vi + 266 pp. $83.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-7391-0915-1; $29.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-7391-0916-8.

Published on H-Urban (July, 2005)

Typically, scholarship of the urban development of Cairo has emphasized the dichotomy between its “medieval” and its “modern” quarters, with little critical analysis about how this notion of a dual city came about, or the impacts of this treatment on both perceptions of Cairo and on its subsequent development. Through the work of ten scholars, Making Cairo Medieval examines the idea of a “medieval Cairo”—a concept developed in the nineteenth century by people who were essentially outsiders to the historic quarters of the city, yet whose ideas of refashioning such neighborhoods to create a “medievalized” Cairo continue to affect the policies governing these quarters of the city today.

The first section of the book, “A Medieval City for a Modern World,” sets the framework around which the ideas that eventually led to the “medievalization” of the city developed.

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