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Innovation and stagnation in Contemporary Marxist and Radical Historiography in Egypt
Abstract by Dr. Peter Gran On Session 064  (Arab Specters of Marx)

On Friday, November 16 at 1:30 pm

2018 Annual Meeting

“Innovation and Stagnation in Contemporary Marxist and Radical Historiography in Egypt” In Egypt as elsewhere, Marx’ Capital is often read as a work legitimating the idea that economists ought to define Marxism, as this is the main work of so-called “Mature Marxism” and it deals with economy. However, others have found in Marx’ writings on literature, politics, history, philosophy and anthropology a foundation for their work and their works have influenced the trajectory of the Marxist worldview as well. This paper takes up historical writings by Egyptian Marxists and progressives focusing on two problems of concern to them, both of which are familiar ones for Western scholars, who work on Egypt as well, hopefully thereby making this presentation more accessible. The first of these is the necessity of the 1952 Revolution and the second is the problem of the Asiatic mode of Production approach or military regime approach to Egypt. Both of these problems appear in Egyptian leftist writings on up until today. An influential figure in the discussion of both of these problems was the historian Raouf `Abbas Hamid. In the book he co-authored with `Asim al-Dasuqi on the large landowning class and the peasantry, a complicated argument for the 1952 Revolution, as opposed to coup, is developed based on an analysis of the class struggle of the preceding 100 years, the class war dominating and the ruling apparatus is simply background. Here one encounters a theoretical problem, one not only dividing the Egyptian left from the liberals but one which divides the left itself. Books which take Egyptian history as the class war differ from those which emphasize the long term unchanging nature of Egypt as Pharaonic as one finds in Ahmad Sadiq Sa`d’ three volume history and later in such works as those of Henry Curiel and Anouar Abd al-Malek. Today, the battleground for and against AMP, the paper will show by way of conclusion, has shifted from contemporary history, which has become a bit stagnant, to early modern history, while today in the memoirs of communists of all sorts, prison is a subject.
Geographic Area
Sub Area
19th-21st Centuries