Amina Elbendary

Wednesday, 11 April 2018, 5.00 pm - 6.30 pm |
Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Popular Protest in Mamluk Egypt and Syria

Amina Elbendary
(Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg Senior Fellow, University of Bonn / American University in Cairo)

Chair: Pascale Ghazaleh
(American University in Cairo / EUME Fellow 2017/18)

Contrary to many assumptions about pre-modern Middle Eastern societies, and despite the despotism of the ruling regimes, various social groups did play part in the politics of their societies. The late Middle Ages were a period of social and cultural transformations that also had reverberations in popular politics. In particular, incidents of urban protest in Egypt and Syria in the late Mamluk period allow us to see some of the urban politics in practice, to understand some of the dynamics that operated in medieval Middle Eastern cities and the alliances between various groups. Recent research has added more nuance to understanding urban protest, not simply as reflexive reactions to economic strife but more as part of the dynamic that maintained city life and integrated various communities. In riots, crowds of common people allied with and protested against military elites, religious scholars, merchants and craftsmen. Studying popular politics allows us a better understanding of the role of various communities in pre-modern Middle Eastern history.

Amina Elbendary is associate professor of history at the Department of Arab and Islamic Civilizations, American University in Cairo. She earned her PhD from Clare Hall, University of Cambridge in 2007. She is the author of Crowds and Sultans: Urban Protest in Late Medieval Egypt and Syria (AUC Press, 2015). She is currently a senior fellow at the Annemarie-Schimmel-Kolleg of University of Bonn working on a research project on popularization in late medieval Egyptian cultural history.


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