059: The Women’s Awakening in Egypt by Beth Baron

by Gerard


059.927082: Baron, Beth. The Women’s Awakening in Egypt: Culture, Society, and the Press. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997. 194 pp. ISBN 0-300-07271-6.

Dewey Breakdown:

  • 000: Computer Science, Information, and General Works
  • 050: Magazine, serials, and journals
  • 059: General serial publications in Italic, Hellenic, or other languages
  • 9: Other languages
  • 92: Afro-Asiatic or Semitic langauges
  • 927: Arabic and Maltese
  • +082: Women


In the decades leading up to the 1919 Egyptian revolution, stirrings were taking place. Publications after publication were being churned out advocating for a voice from an often silent population: women. One after another, each one sought out a larger place in society for Egyptian women. Beth Baron’s The Women’s Awakening in Egypt shines a light on this unremembered and culturally rich movement. Her study shows that it was not just the men who were fighting for independence, and that the more things change, the more they stay the same.

This is a history in two parts: the first lays out the history and the consumption of these new publications, and the second looks to analyze their integration into the culture of early 20th century Egypt. These were journals written by women for women, and while each one didn’t last for very long, there was always another one to takes it place. From 1892 to 1920, these journals were a way for Egyptian women to interact with both each other and the culture at large. The spread of “new” ideas, such as companionate marriages and social reform, is seen here as a sort of revolution within a revolution.

Baron’s writing is scholarly and slightly dense, but there is a wealth of Egyptian social, cultural, and political history here. If you are already versed, then you get a little more depth; if not, then you get a whole lot of information. This perspective of the Egyptian revolution bears reading, if only to reinforce that historical events often have a multitude of perspectives. A deep and interesting book.