Dr Lucie Ryzova has had her book 'The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt' shortlisted for the Royal Historical Society's Gladstone Prize.
The Royal Historical Society offers the annual award for a history book published in English on any topic that is not primarily British history. To be eligible for the prize the book must be its author's first solely written book on a historical subject which is not primarily related to British history. The book must also be an original and scholarly work of historical research and have been published in English during the calendar year by a scholar normally resident in the United Kingdom.
In colonial-era Egypt, a new social category of "modern men" emerged, the efendiyya. Working as bureaucrats, teachers, journalists, free professionals, and public intellectuals, the efendiyya represented the new middle class elite. They were the experts who drafted and carried out the state's modernisation policies, and the makers as well as majority consumers of modern forms of politics and national culture. As simultaneously "authentic" and "modern", they assumed a key political role in the anti-colonial movement and in the building of a modern state both before and after the revolution of 1952.
Lucie Ryzova explores where these self-consciously modern men came from, and how they came to be such major figures, by examining multiple social, cultural, and institutional contexts. These contexts include the social strategies pursued by "traditional" households responding to new opportunities for social mobility; modern schools as vehicles for new forms of knowledge dissemination, which had the potential to redefine social authority; but also include new forms of youth culture, student rituals, peer networks, and urban popular culture.
The most common modes of self-expression among the effendiyya were through politics and writing (either literature or autobiography). This articulated an efendi culture imbued with a sense of mission, duty, and entitlement, and defined the ways in which their social experiences played into the making of modern Egyptian culture and politics.