Harem Years: The Memoirs of an Egyptian Feminist, 1879-1924 / Edition 1

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Overview


   In this rare first-hand account of the private world of a Cairo harem during the years before Egypt declared independence in 1922, Shaarawi recalls her childhood and early adult life in the seclusion of an upper-class Egyptian household, including her marriage at age thirteen. Her subsequent separation from her husband gave her time for an extended formal education, as well as an unexpected taste of independence and a critical understanding of the price of confinement. Shaarawi's feminist activism grew along with her involvement in Egypt's nationalist struggle and culminated in 1923 in a daring act of defiance,when she publicly removed her veil in a Cairo railroad station.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Shaarawi, an early leader of Egypt's feminist movement, was the daughter of an upper-class Egyptian and a Turkish Circassian woman. Raised in a haremthat area of homes where the women and children in wealthier families were secludedShaarawi observed bitterly that her younger brother was treated better and taught more than she. At age 13 she was married, against her wishes, to an older cousin who already had a family by a ``slave-concubine,'' with whom he continued to live at intervals during his marriage. In addition to noting such injustices, Shaarawi also offers a touching account of growing up in the Middle East at the turn of the century and of the peopleparticularly European women living in Egypt and Egyptian women educated in Europewho helped her to develop a vision of a more just society. Badran's epilogue, quoting extensively from Shaarawi's narrative, covers the stirring struggle for independence from Britain and the beginnings of a women's movement in Egypt following World War I. May
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780935312706
  • Publisher: Feminist Press at CUNY, The
  • Publication date: 1/1/1993
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    Shaarawi's memoir details the precious moments of her childhood escapades. Because she was close to her brother, she was able to venture beyond the usual activities of most girls. In her later years, she was afforded many freedoms because of her family's status and protection, the cooperation of her husband, from whom she separated for a number of formative years, and by the movement of the Egyptian government in those days to 'modernize' and to encourage women to be educated and have careers. Interestingly, the Koran was used as the justification for women's equality. This is a very important historical record from which to view the change in women's status in Egypt and the Middle East in general. This book helps us understand the how today's political motives also utilize religion for their purposes.

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