Download A Tale of Two Factions: Myth, Memory, and Identity in by Jane Hathaway PDF

By Jane Hathaway

This revisionist examine reevaluates the origins and starting place myths of the Faqaris and Qasimis, rival factions that divided Egyptian society through the 17th and eighteenth centuries, while Egypt was once the biggest province within the Ottoman Empire. In resolution to the long-lasting secret surrounding the factions’ origins, Jane Hathaway areas their emergence in the generalized quandary that the Ottoman Empire—like a lot of the remainder of the world—suffered throughout the early sleek interval, whereas uncovering a symbiosis among Ottoman Egypt and Yemen that was once severe to their formation. moreover, she scrutinizes the factions’ origin myths, deconstructing their tropes and logos to bare their connections to a lot older well known narratives. Drawing on parallels from a wide range of cultures, she demonstrates with amazing originality how rituals equivalent to storytelling and public processions, in addition to settling on colours and symbols, may possibly serve to augment factional identification.

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Breaking Out of the Mamluk Paradigm Before we undertake this task, however, it is worth asking why the bilateralism of the Faqaris and Qasimis has received so little attention. Our understanding of the origins and functions of these two factions has, I believe, been hampered by the Mamluk historiographical framework within which historians of premodern Ottoman Egypt have habitually placed them. I contend that if we are to understand these factions on their own terms and in their own historical and social context, we must adopt a framework that gives due weight to the fact that these two factions utterly polarized Egyptian society, forcing virtually every member of the military-administrative population, as well 25 26 A Tale of Two Factions as merchants, artisans, and bedouin tribes, to choose one side or the other side while not allowing for any alternative.

Each Mamluk grandee, or emir, following his manumission, purchased large numbers of his own mamluks, or military slaves, whose education and military training he oversaw. These mamluks, whose paramount loyalty was to the patron who had nurtured them, formed the basis of the emir’s faction. With the support of his faction, the emir might attain the sultanate. In that event, his faction attempted to protect his interests from the mamluks of his predecessor, who formed a separate faction. 1 In this fashion, the sultan could keep his potential rivals at a reasonably comfortable distance, although he could not prevent them from building up their own power bases in the provinces.

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. Competing Symbols Second only to color as a marker of factional identity is the identifying symbol, which can take the form of an emblem depicted on a banner or a coat of arms. 58 The Faqaris’ and Qasimis’ competing symbols were the so-called knob and disk that they carried as standards on the ends of their spears.

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