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'Brothers' or Others?

Propriety and Gender for Muslim Arab Sudanese in Egypt

Anita Fábos

204 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-84545-018-2 $120.00/£75.00 hb Published (March 2008)

ISBN  978-1-84545-989-5 $29.95/£18.50 Pb Published (November 2010)

eISBN 978-0-85745-024-1 eBook

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This book is a welcome contribution to anthropological debate and to the scant work on Sudanese transnational mobility.”  · American Ethnologist

 “In addition to writing a thoroughly engaging ethnography of Sudanese residents in Cairo, Fábos makes an important contribution to our understanding of the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender in the construction of diaspora identities”  · African Affairs

This rich ethnographic work complicates the notions of identity, loyalty, citizenship, and inclusiveness, showing how ethnic categories and cultural references can be manipulated to determine affiliation, inclusion, or marginalization… To understand the fluidity of these identities, as well as the ambiguities and contradictions of the legal and political status of Sudanese in Egyptian society, Fabos employs not only a wealth of ethnographic research, but also significant knowledge of colonial history and international legal re­gimes.  ·  Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies

Muslim Arab Sudanese in Cairo have played a fundamental role in Egyptian history and society during many centuries of close relations between Egypt and Sudan. Although the government and official press describes them as "brothers" in a united Nile Valley, recent political developments in Egypt have underscored the precarious legal status of Sudanese in Cairo. Neither citizens nor foreigners, they are in an uncertain position, created in part through an unusual ethnic discourse which does not draw principally on obvious characteristics of difference. This rich ethnographic study shows instead that Sudanese ethnic identity is created from deeply held social values, especially those concerning gender and propriety, shared by Sudanese and Egyptian communities. The resulting ethnic identity is ambiguous and flexible, allowing Sudanese to voice their frustrations and make claims for their own uniqueness while acknowledging the identity that they share with the dominant Egyptian community.

Anita H. Fábos is an anthropologist whose work focuses on refugees and the nexus of ethnicity, race and gender in the Middle East. In addition to conducting research together with Sudanese individuals and families in Cairo and elsewhere in the Sudanese diaspora, she explores livelihood and identity strategies for urban forced migrants, refugee transnationalism, and refugee narratives and the state. She is Associate Professor at Clark University's Department of International Development, Community and Environment, where she coordinates the graduate program in International Development and Social Change.

Series: Volume 22, Forced Migration
Subject: Refugee & Migration Studies Gender Studies General Anthropology
Area: Middle East & Israel

LC: DT146.6.S83 F33 2011

BL: YC.2008.a.9364

BISAC: SOC007000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Emigration & Immigration; SOC032000 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Gender Studies; SOC002010 SOCIAL SCIENCE/Anthropology/Cultural

BIC: JFFN Migration, immigration & emigration; JFSJ Gender studies, gender groups


Note on Transliteration and Transcription


Chapter 1. Introduction

  • Historical Framework
  • Muslim Arab Sudanese: Labels and Definitions
  • Framing Difference: Ethnicity, Inequality, and Mobility
  • Positioning and the Production of Knowledge
  • Scope of the Book

Chapter 2. Being Sudanese in Cairo

  • Centuries of Migration: Sudanese in Egypt, Egyptians in Sudan
  • Contemporary Sudanese Migration and Forced Migration to Egypt
  • Sudanese in Cairo: Urban Geography
  • Displacement and Resentment


Chapter 3. Creating Foreigners, Becoming Exiles

  • Competing Nationalisms in a United Nile Valley
  • Borders and Citizens
  • Gender, Egyptian Statecraft, and Sudanese Transnationalism
  • Creating Refugees
  • Becoming "Others"

Chapter 4. Presenting Sudanese Differences

  • Muslim Arab Sudaneseness


Chapter 5. Muslim Arab Adab and Sudanese Ethnicity

  • Adab as a Discursive and Cultural Concept
  • Gender and Propriety
  • Sudanese Gender Roles and Adab in Cairo: Ideal and Real
  • Adab in the Community

Chapter 6. A Sudanese ‘Culture of Exile’ in Cairo

  • Community Mobilization: Circumstances and Strategies
  • Taking Muslim Arab Sudanese Identity
  • Public: Adab and Community Exile and Change: a ‘New Sudan’?
  • Imagining Sudan in Exile

Chapter 7. Gender, Diaspora, and Transformation

  • Gender and Displacement in Cairo
  • Challenging Adab/Transforming Gender
  • Sudanese in Cairo, Sudanese in the Diaspora
  • The Dialectic of Sudanese Ethnicity
  • Conclusion: Ambiguous Ethnicity


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