"Anti-Christ in Egypt. Sex, Gender, and Crime in an Early 20th C. Narrative of Imperial Crisis"
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Dr Francesca Biancani is Associate Professor, Department of Political and Social Sciences, University of Bologna, and Short Residency Fellow of the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory (AGHCT). The AGHCT is a collaboration among Duke, the University of Virginia, and the University of Bologna, learn more at: https://fhi.duke.edu/programs/academy-global-humanities-and-critical-theory.
ABSTRACT: In early 20th century Cairo was a vibrant and booming global metropolis. The integration of Egypt into the global market had led to rapid urban growth and increased migration. As occupational prospects for women outside the family were limited, sex work became a prominent feature of the new modern city. However, the economic and social changes in Egypt ignited national anxieties about racial degeneration, social disorder and imperial decadence. Based on a wide range of rare primary sources, including documents from court cases, reformist papers, police minutes and letters, Biancani examines the discourses around sex workers and shows how prostitution was understood in colonial Egypt: far from being a marginal activity, prostitution is shown to play a central role in the history of Egyptian nation-making. By exploring the interdependence of power and marginality, respectability and transgression, Biancani writes sex work and its practitioners back into the history of modern Egypt, at the crossroads between imperialist and nationalist politics.