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The conquest of Egypt and Asia, leading to new urban and fiscal infrastructures and new forms and levels of elite consumption, increased the scale of trade and exchange in the Hellenistic economy. Complex institutional changes that were spurred by both fiscal-military demand and local responses to this demand changed agrarian and commercial patterns, with likely positive effects on local markets. This chapter argues that the Hellenistic period was one of moderate economic growth both in the Greek poleis of the Aegean and in the core regions of Hellenistic Asia and Egypt. The greater presence of Roman traders in the Hellenistic East from the second century onwards is also likely to have had positive effects on market exchange and monetary circulation. Yet there is reason to assume that in the final decades of the Hellenistic period, all Hellenistic regions to some extent, but particularly the Aegean and Asia Minor, suffered from the destructive forces of the Roman military presence and subsequent tributary exploitation. Only after the Roman civil wars came to an end and fiscal practices were better regulated did the economies of the East begin to recover and to expand along the pathways that had developed in the Hellenistic period.
This chapter discusses the economic developments occurring within the Ptolemaic empire (323–30 BCE), of which Egypt was the core province. It explores how state formation affected economic development and how Ptolemaic imperialism, demography, and the interaction between Egyptian and Greek social networks were factors of economic change and economic exploitation. After an overview of past and current approaches to the economy of the Ptolemaic empire and of the geography of the empire, it assesses the cost and benefits of military conquests and the management of migrations patterns and new settlements by the Ptolemies, who increased their revenues and reduced the cost of their army through land allotments to cleruchs. The political economy of the Ptolemies relied on a complex tax system, with some documents pointing to a centralized taxation of the provinces, and innovative but also unusual monetary policies, such as closed-currency system based on a lower weight standard than the Attic standard in Egypt, Cyprus, and Syria-Phoenicia. The chapter concludes with examples of the synergistic relationship between empire, warfare, and trade and between the public and private spheres of the economy, and sketches the purchasing power of different economic groups in Egypt.
This paper aims to provide a new constitutional perspective on the Egyptian political process from the end of World War I to its independence in 1922. Egyptian historical research on the same period has been conducted mainly from a nationalist perspective. However, as Egypt had a long history of constitutionalism that had developed in unison with nationalism since the 1870s, Egyptian nationalists simultaneously desired to establish a constitutional system after achieving independence. Eventually, Britain unilaterally declared the independence of Egypt in 1922, which, despite its concern, included the introduction of a constitutional system into the country. The declaration was the product of secret negotiations between the British Special High Commissioner Allenby and Tharwat, an Egyptian nationalist politician. However, the idea of introducing the constitutional system was first publicly proposed in the preceding negotiations between Colonial Minister Milner and Zaghlūl, which facilitated Tharwat's negotiations with Allenby on this subject. While Zaghlūl, the leader of the Wafd, and the group including ‘Adlī and Tharwat were increasingly antagonistic, the establishment of a constitutional system had long been a common desire of all Egyptian nationalists who transcended their differences.
Hermetic spirituality must be seen in the context of visionary experiences in Roman Egypt. The story of Thessalos and the Mithras Liturgy are discussed as examples of spiritual practices for inducing powerful alterations of consciousness and luminous visions.
In Egypt during the first centuries CE, men and women would meet discreetly in their homes, in temple sanctuaries, or insolitary places to learn a powerful practice of spiritual liberation. They thought of themselves as followers of Hermes Trismegistus, the legendary master of ancient wisdom. While many of their writings are lost, those that survived have been interpreted primarily as philosophical treatises about theological topics. Wouter J. Hanegraaff challenges this dominant narrative by demonstrating that Hermetic literature was concerned with experiential practices intended for healing the soul from mental delusion. The Way of Hermes involved radical alterations of consciousness in which practitioners claimed to perceive the true nature of reality behind the hallucinatory veil of appearances. Hanegraaff explores how practitioners went through a training regime that involved luminous visions, exorcism, spiritual rebirth, cosmic consciousness, and union with the divine beauty of universal goodness and truth to attain the salvational knowledge known as gnôsis.
Moving into the wider world of the ancient Near East, Michael Fox and Suzanna R. Millar examine Egyptian wisdom literature. They begin with an overview of extant examples from the Old Kingdom to the Late Period, and then turn to some major themes and issues. They consider Ma’at (the regulating force of truth/justice), character development (particularly as expressed through polar character types), pedagogy (including the debate about who is capable of learning), and transmission (through the generations in oral and written forms). The second half of the chapter assesses some commonly proposed examples of Egyptian influence on biblical wisdom literature, namely the influence of Amenemope on Prov 22:17–23:11 and elsewhere in Proverbs, Egyptian parallels to Proverbs 8, Egyptian parallels to Prov 23:12–24:22, an alleged precursor to Job 38–39 in Egyptian onomastica, and connections between Ben Sira and the Demotic Instruction Phibis.
The somewhat neglected Wisdom of Solomon, or ‘Book of Wisdom’, contains concepts important not only for understanding wisdom in the rest of the OT but also for understanding how wisdom bridged both testaments. Joachim Schaper gives priority to the book’s theology and its place in Hellenistic Jewish and early Christian thought. He provides an overview of the book’s structure and versions, its intellectual context, its universalistic conceptions of God and humans in history, and how the book exhibits a ‘spiritual exercise’. Most important here are Wisdom’s use of πνευμα (‘spirit’) and its amalgam of Platonic, Stoic and Egyptian elements. It offers a distinct interpretation of the exodus, with which Schaper accounts for ideas of liberation and eschatology. As for the book as spiritual exercise, the discussion turns to matters of genre and literary function, disclosing its purpose to fortify religious beliefs and one’s self-mastery.
Using the concept of a revolutionary situation as a turning point in which previously accepted social structures and relations are in flux, this chapter demonstrates the profoundly revolutionary nature of the 2011 Arab uprisings. Tracing the history of the revolutionary situations in each case – Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Bahrain, Libya and Yemen – the chapter demonstrates how mass uprisings of historically remarkable size and breadth established new forms and sites of sovereignty and challenged existing social relations. These included mass, class-based revolts rooted in dissatisfaction with decades of neoliberal economic policy in the region, and the rejection of hierarchies of gender and sect. These revolutionary situations often produced a new sense of expanded and collective selfhood, which would then require counter-revolutionary violence to be eradicated. This chapter, thus, outlines the revolutionary situations that post-2011 counter-revolutionaries sought to end.
This chapter focuses on Egypt and Tunisia, as the two states experienced political revolutions after 2011. In Egypt, the brief political revolution was overturned by the counter-revolution of 2013, while in Tunisia an unsteady democratic transition was achieved at the cost of the social demands of the uprising. Using the framework of counter-revolution from above, below, and without, the chapter demonstrates how counter-revolutionaries in both states were able to rely on the inheritance of previous anti-colonial revolutions from above to build a base of support – one aided by the record of Islamist parties once in power. The greater independence of the organised working class in Tunisia hampered a more fully counter-revolutionary outcome: while the external influence of the EU was concerned with fostering political revolution against social revolution. In Egypt, by contrast, the military as the core of the state was supported by a coalition of Gulf states already financially well-embedded in the country’s ruling class and pursuing a policy of outright counter-revolution.
Chapter 3 dissects the role of black skin color in Aeschylus’s Suppliants (c. 463 BCE). In this tragedy, Danaus’s black daughters, the Danaids, flee from Egypt to Argos to escape a forced marriage to their Egyptian cousins. Their knowledge of Greek religious rites convinces the Argive ruler, Pelasgus, that they are distant kin even though this Greek identity is seemingly contradicted by their black skin. This chapter asserts that the Danaids are sophisticated performers who successfully reduce the relevance of their physical alterity and declare their hybrid identity as black Egyptian Greeks. They are versatile and subtle ethnographers of the Argive Greeks to whom they supplicate. Conversely, their Argive audience – the intra-dramatic spectators of the Danaids’ difference – prove less able to comprehend their hybridized identity. An exploration of political resonances, particularly in relation to metics, draws the fifth-century BCE audience away from the distant mythical realm and towards their own political reality. Altogether, the drama speaks to the complicated exteriority of race in an ancient Greek tragedy.
International law has played a part in the Arab-Israel dispute for over a hundred years. The disputes with Egypt, Jordan and Arab Gulf States have been settled and international law played its part. The Palestinians see themselves as the weaker party. They therefore demand that any agreement between the parties must reflect “international legitimacy” and that the relevant United Nations resolutions reflect such legitimacy. To reach agreement on the final status of the West Bank and Gaza both sides will have to make painful compromises. It is ironic that although international law has played a useful and positive part in all stages of the Arab-Israel conflict, these different interpretations of what is international law, in fact, are hindering the possibility of settling Israel-Palestinian issues.
When and how do constitution-making processes hinder democratic transitions? Examining the Arab Spring constitutional reforms, this chapter identifies four pathways through which non-inclusive and/or nonparticipatory processes lead to either constitutional failure or democratic backsliding. The first type of process leading to failure is the “populist” process, a nondemocratic, exclusionary process identified by a majority rule (Egypt 2012). The second type is the “window-dressing” process where severely contested regimes unwilling to democratize initiate constitutional reforms which only appear inclusive or participatory by allowing a small group of moderate opposition groups to participate (e.g., Jordan 2011, Morocco 2011, Egypt 2014, and Algeria 2016). The third failed pathway is through “closed” constitution-making processes where input from the general public is not sought, nor are major interest groups and civil society organizations offered a seat at the table (Bahrain 2012, Syria 2012, Oman 2011, Saudi Arabia 2013, and Egypt 2019). The last failed pathway of constitution-making processes is “conflict” constitutions, which involves a non-inclusive process in ethnically or regionally divided nations. As the cases of Yemen (2015) and Libya (2017) show, in such circumstances the process of crafting the constitution only exacerbates the extant conflicts.
This and the next chapter explore the gradations of this process in which Shāfiʿī texts contributed to and benefited from the eventual globalisation, modernisation, technological headways, legal and intellectual networks, and mobility of people, ideas and texts. This chapter in particular focuses on two supercommentaries on the Qurra via its autocommentary Fatḥ to analyse internal responses within the school to textual longue durée, coinciding with and influenced by several major historical developments across the world. It argues that the nineteenth century was a period of multiple syntheses for Shāfiʿīsm in terms of its geographical, intellectual and cultural realms, due to new challenges and prospects it came across in the wider society and specifically among Muslims. The existing internal and inherent divisions in the school were reconciled through constant efforts of its jurists, and this synthesis addressed a larger division in the Islamic world. Faced with new trials from political and legal entities and a few minor but radical sections of the community the traditional body of believers united against what they called bidʿa or false invention. These supercommentaries represent different geo-cultural and political backgrounds, as much as they reflect common trends of their time in adapting the attitudes of many divisions in the school.
In this chapter, I examine the evolution of US democracy aid in Egypt through the eyes of the diplomats, practitioners, and bureaucrats engaged with such efforts in Egypt. I focus on the practical construction of democracy aid on the ground and the struggles undertaken by different actors to implement aid programs in an authoritarian state. I examine how ideas, interests, and institutions engaged in such aid evolved since 1990s to shape a kind of reform more attuned to the commercial and economic interests of the US and Egyptian governments rather than those of citizens in the country. In the first section, I focus on the nature of authoritarianism in Egypt, tracing its origins since the Nasser era to describe how power has since been exercised and maintained. In the second section, I examine how US democracy aid evolved in Egypt, focusing on the debates and discussions at the inception of USAID’s programs.
This chapter introduces the argument and organization of the book. I explain the questions motivating the book, focusing on two that are puzzling in different respects. The first asks why democracy aid in the Middle East is seen as ineffective despite billions of dollars allocated for its promotion. The second question is linked to the first: Why would an authoritarian state even allow an outside actor to promote democracy? Examining the construction and practice of democracy aid illuminates why such regimes allow such aid as well as why particular ideas and conceptions about democracy persist even when shown to be ineffective. I introduce and explain the utility of a political economy framework that considers how ideas, institutions, and interests mediate and shape the form and function of democracy aid. I describe the methodology used in the book, which adopts an inductive, interpretative strategy to examine the construction and practice of democracy aid in the Middle East through case studies of US democracy aid in Egypt and Morocco.
In the final chapter, I consider how the 2011 Arab uprisings challenged the strategies adopted by the United States and regimes in Egypt and Morocco. I examine shifting aid strategies from the United States and the response from former regime elites and emergent political actors. Drawing from interviews with diplomats and activists involved in transitional support and unreleased data, I consider how the ideas, institutions, and interests that supported a particular form of democracy aid for twenty-five years adjusted with the promise of political change. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the challenges these changes now pose for activists and emerging political actors in the region as well as policymakers in the United States and those embedded within the democracy bureaucracy in Washington, DC. The chapter’s final section revisits the questions raised at the outset of the book and discusses possible mechanisms for enhancing the effectiveness of democracy aid programs.
The authoritative texts of the Shāfiʿī school such as the Minhāj began to be circulated, interpreted and advanced across the Indian Ocean rim, where its largest followers had started to take up residence. This transoceanic transmission was mediated by other texts in the interim, mainly by the commentaries of the Minhāj. This chapter analyses the commentarial intermediation between the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean in the sixteenth century with a focus on one commentary, Tuḥfat al-muḥtāj (Tuḥfa) by Ibn al-Ḥajar al-Haytamī, an Egyptian jurist who built up a successful career in Mecca. The trajectories of this commentary reflect many of the contemporary developments in political and cultural realms, such as the decline of the Mamlūks, the rise of the Ottomans and their conquest of the Middle East, and the increased mobility toward Mecca and beyond to the Hijaz. The Tuḥfa addressed its immediate regional contexts, while reasserting the geo-cultural superiority of Mecca and the Hijaz and the racial prominence of the Arabs. Its approach was challenged by Ibn Ḥajar’s colleagues from Cairo through their commentaries. Just as Nawawī once amalgamated two ṭarīqas, now commentators on his Minhāj were divided into two sub-schools.
For nearly two decades, the United States devoted more than $2 billion towards democracy promotion in the Middle East with seemingly little impact. To understand the limited impact of this aid and the decision of authoritarian regimes to allow democracy programs whose ultimate aim is to challenge the power of such regimes, Marketing Democracy examines the construction and practice of democracy aid in Washington DC and in Egypt and Morocco, two of the highest recipients of US democracy aid in the region. Drawing on extensive fieldwork, novel new data on the professional histories of democracy promoters, archival research and recently declassified government documents, Erin A. Snider focuses on the voices and practices of those engaged in democracy work over the last three decades to offer a new framework for understanding the political economy of democracy aid. Her research shows how democracy aid can work to strengthen rather than challenge authoritarian regimes. Marketing Democracy fundamentally challenges scholars to rethink how we study democracy aid and how the ideas of democracy that underlie democracy programs come to reflect the views of donors and recipient regimes rather than indigenous demand.
The events in Egypt between 2011 and 2013 present a series of empirical puzzles unanswered in the comparative political scholarship: We see puzzling variation with respect to the particular processes of party formation, political mobilization, and opposition group survival or dissolution in the context of regime transitions. These puzzles are particularly evident in Egypt, where a repressed opposition group (the Muslim Brotherhood) won the 2011 founding elections only to be forced from office eighteen months later, while other opposition groups that were active in protesting the Egyptian regime did not even form a political party to run in the 2011 elections. Common explanations for events in Egypt focus on idiosyncratic features of the Egyptian political landscape and fail to explain similar events in other cases in Eastern Europe, Africa, and South America. An approach that takes into account the mechanisms linking the authoritarian past to the events surrounding founding elections offers not only an explanation for events in Egypt but also illuminates comparative cases of founding elections more generally. The book uses comparative process tracing to excavate the mechanisms at play in Egypt and then test them in five comparative cases, linking the authoritarian political ecosystem to the outcome of founding elections.
When an authoritarian regime collapses, what determines whether an opposition group will form a political party, be successful in mobilizing voters, and survive or dissolve as a group in subsequent years? Based on unique field research, Alanna C. Torres-Van Antwerp examines the origins of the dramatic political arc of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - from winning a plurality of parliamentary seats and the presidency in the first free elections in eighty years to being ousted from office eighteen months later through a popular coup - and finds common causal factors that structured the fates of other formerly repressed opposition groups in five comparative cases. She demonstrates how the processes of party formation, electoral mobilization, and party dissolution after the ousting of an authoritarian regime were shaped by the way that regime structured the resources, incentives, and constraints available to opposition groups in the previous era.