How old is the world? This question was a central problem for Muslims, Christians, and Jews in the face of the new scientific discoveries in the nineteenth century. This book introduces the answer from a Muslim point of view, outside of official institutions. The extended introduction – a microhistory in the Middle East – explores the life and œuvre of a forgotten Egyptian intellectual and poet, Muṣṭafā Salāma al-Naǧǧārī (d. 1870). Next, A. Mestyan provides the English translation and Arabic transcription of the surviving fragments of al-Naǧǧārīʼs manuscript, The Garden of Ismail’s Praise. This is a universal history of Egypt, written while the Suez Canal was under construction to praise the governor Khedive Ismail (r. 1863-1879). Sheikh al-Naǧǧārī advocates a unique solution to computing the period of primordial history, before the Deluge, in the age of steam and print. Al-Naǧǧārī’s alternative Nahḍa voice is available for the first time in this edition.
Adam Mestyan‘s first monograph is Arab Patriotism: The Ideology and Culture of Power in Late Ottoman Egypt (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2017). The book is available at Amazon in hardcover and E-book formats as well. Please find here the press release.
This book challenges the received narrative that Arabism in general and Egyptian territorial nationalism in particular emerged in opposition to the Ottoman and British Empires and primarily from below. The author argues instead that early Arabic nationalist culture was produced in dialogue with the localized Ottoman power by educated Arabs who integrated Muslim and European cultural forms in their search for political inclusion and patronage. Based on archival research in Egypt, Turkey, France, UK, and the USA Arab Patriotism offers the first scholarly investigation of the Egyptian khedivate, between the 1860s and the 1890s, a period that witnessed a global wave of monarchical restoration and reformation. The khedivate was a uniquely hybrid polity – ruled by the Ottoman Empire and later occupied by the British – that combined dynastic and nascent nationalist interests, and spurred a range of cultural productions and practices.
“The nineteenth-century Mediterranean region emerges in a new and unexpected light”
“A superb scholarly achievement”
“This is one of the most exciting new works that I have read in recent years.”
“Mestyan paints a detailed and animated picture of a rich cultural landscape.”