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By Jane Hathaway

This revisionist examine reevaluates the origins and starting place myths of the Faqaris and Qasimis, rival factions that divided Egyptian society in the course of the 17th and eighteenth centuries, whilst Egypt used to be the most important province within the Ottoman Empire. In solution to the long-lasting secret surrounding the factions’ origins, Jane Hathaway areas their emergence in the generalized situation that the Ottoman Empire—like a lot of the remainder of the world—suffered through the early smooth interval, whereas uncovering a symbiosis among Ottoman Egypt and Yemen that used to be severe to their formation. furthermore, she scrutinizes the factions’ beginning myths, deconstructing their tropes and emblems to bare their connections to a lot older renowned narratives. Drawing on parallels from a big selection of cultures, she demonstrates with extraordinary originality how rituals resembling storytelling and public processions, in addition to determining colours and symbols, may serve to augment factional identification.

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Additional info for A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in Ottoman Egypt and Yemen

Sample text

Each chapter of the book takes on a different theme or motif, or a different genre of origin myth. After this obligatory introductory explanation of the factions, their history, and the unanswered questions that I shall attempt to answer, I start with an exploration of the nature of Ottoman Egypt’s peculiarly bilateral factionalism (chapter 1), followed by an analysis of the role of popular narratives in the construction of the factions’ origin myths (chapter 2). Chapter 3 takes on the essential dichotomy of the Sa˜d and Haram tribal groupings while chapter 4 addresses the place of Yemen in the origins of the Faqari and Qasimi factions.

The motif itself, rooted in the most primal blood relationships—that between a father and his sons and that between brothers—bespeaks a division that is likewise primal and long-lasting, if not permanent. Such a fundamental split, the myth implies, cannot be healed by virtue of political expediency. It is a deep, enduring rift brought about by wrenching political and/or social change, such as the death of a powerful ruler or the conquest of a kingdom. The pervasiveness of this division encourages popular memory to cast it in either-or terms, or to adopt myths that cast the division in this way, and to assign each side basic, easily recognizable characteristics and symbols.

The colors were those that the rival competitors displayed on their chariots and on the banners that accompanied them into the arena, as well as in their clothing. Initially, there had been four factions that derived their colors from either the four seasons or the four elements believed in classical Greek science to comprise the Bilateral Factionalism in Ottoman Egypt 31 universe: earth (green), air (white), fire (red), and water (blue). Yet quite early on, factional rivalries took the form of competition between pairs of colors (Blue and either Red or White vs.

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