The History of Popular Culture and the Entertainment Industry in Early Twentieth-Century Egypt

Elena Chiti, Carmen Gitre, Raphael Cormack
Dec 14, 2023 at

This event has passed. A recording of the panel and subsequent Q&A can be found here: The History of Popular Culture and the Entertainment Industry in Early Twentieth-Century Egypt.

On December 14, 2023, at 11am EST, the Modern Egyptian Studies Forum (MESF) will host a panel discussion on the history of popular culture and the entertainment industry in early twentieth-century Egypt.

Interest in the history of the Egyptian entertainment industry is robust and growing. Scholars have focused on the economics, politics, technology, and organization of its enterprises; on the fast pace of its development, which greatly enhanced Egypt’s influence beyond its borders; and on its contributions to new forms of popular culture that bear on social issues including city life, class, crime, gender, language, race, national identity, and more. This panel will reflect on the state of the scholarship, the questions and methods that are inspiring it, and directions for further research.

The panel will feature three speakers. These are Elena Chiti, author of “National Robin Hoods and Local Avengers: On Two Shifts in the Criminal Myth of Rayyā and Sakīna in Present Day Egypt,” Journal of Historical Sociology 34/3, and “Building a National Case in Interwar Egypt: Raya and Sakina’s Crimes through the Pages of al-Ahrām (Fall 1920),” History Compass 18/2; Carmen Gitre, author of Acting Egyptian: Theater, Identity, and Political Culture in Cairo, 1869–1930 (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2019); and Raphael Cormack, author of Midnight in Cairo: The Divas of Egypt's Roaring '20s (W. W. Norton & Company, 2021).

The Modern Egyptian Studies Forum is an online event series and scholarly community dedicated to the study of modern Egypt. Events organized by the Forum have included book talks, thematic conversations, and discussions on archival access, pedagogy, and publishing. It welcomes scholars at various career stages, from graduate students to emeritus professors. For recordings of recent events see Events. Its sponsor is the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations (NELC) at the University of Pennsylvania.

As always, if there is someone that you think should join us in this event, please write to Weston Bland (wbland@sas.upenn.edu). We will be happy to invite them, if we have not done so already.