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From Mission to Modernity

Evangelicals, Reformers and Education in Nineteenth Century Egypt (Library of Middle East History)

Paul Sedra


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In this pioneering account of Egyptian educational history, Paul Sedra describes how the Egyptian state under Muhammad Ali Pasha sought to forge a new relationship with children during the nineteenth century. Through the introduction of modern forms of education, brought to Egypt by evangelical missions, the state aimed to ensure children's loyal service to the state, whether through conscription or forced labor. However, these schemes of educational reform, most prominently Joseph Lancaster's monitorial system, led to unforeseen consequences as students in Egypt's new modern schools resisted efforts to control their behavior in creative and complex ways, and these acts of resistance themselves led to new forms of political identity. Tracing the development of a distinctly Egyptian ""modernity,"" From Mission to Modernity is indispensable for all those interested in Egyptian history and the history of modern education and reform.

Praise For From Mission to Modernity: Evangelicals, Reformers and Education in Nineteenth Century Egypt (Library of Middle East History)

"With its clear writing, broad-ranging analysis, and rich insight, 'From Mission to Modernity' is both an impressive achievement and a pleasure to read. Sedra sweeps across an eventful nineteenth century to present what is at once an intellectual history, a history of education, and a history of religion and politics. With this book, Sedra makes a major contribution to the study of nineteenth-century Egypt." -- Heather J. Sharkey, Associate Professor of Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, University of Pennsylvania

"In describing nearly a century of interactions between Protestant missionaries and Egypt’s indigenous Coptic community, Paul Sedra’s new book deepens our understanding of the subtle ways missionization helped transform Egyptian society through processes of “cultural conversion” even in the absence of significant religious conversion. Sedra shows how international relations, domestic politics, specific educational strategies, and the widening gap between wealthy Coptic landowners and the Church hierarchy served to inculcate a 'modern Coptic subjectivity.'" -- Gregory Starrett, Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, and President, Middle East Section of the American Anthropological Association

"This book offers a compelling story of the tensions of colonialism in the intertwined realms of education and religion. As well as being a delightful read, it represents a useful contribution to Egypt studies and Middle Eastern studies with fascinating new data and fresh interpretations. Sedra has opened up new areas of research on the 19th century Middle East." -- Jessica Winegar, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Northwestern University

I. B. Tauris & Company, 9781848855489, 245pp.

Publication Date: March 24, 2011

About the Author

Paul Sedra is Assistant Professor of History at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, and Middle East editor of the journal History Compass. He has taught at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, and has published articles in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Journal of Religious History, as well as the Middle East working paper series of Yale and Columbia Universities. The principal focus of his research is the social and cultural history of the modern Middle East. He has a Master's degree from St. Antony's, Oxford University and a PhD in History and Middle Eastern studies from New York University.