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Understanding Egypt’s Jewish Bourgeoisie

Understanding Egypt’s Jewish Bourgeoisie

January 24, 2018

Social Sciences & Humanities

TLV1 – Dr. Liat Maggid-Alon, a historian in BGU’s Department of Middle East Studies, discusses upper-middle-class Jews in early-to-mid 20th century Egypt, also known as the bourgeoisie. She recently presented a paper on the subject at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute.

Dr. Liat Maggid-Alon

“After the migration [from post-war Europe], a lot of the Jews [who moved to Egypt] came in search of a better life, of better economic circumstances. They emphasized secular education, the adoption of French, and on top of that, the adoption of socio-cultural practices and norms that were associated with modernity, with Europe, with Europeanism.”

“[Egypt] turned from being a local community to a community of immigrants.”

It is estimated that 15 percent of the Jewish community in Egypt was considered elite; 20 percent was poor and the vast majority was categorized as bourgeoisie.

Dr. Maggid-Alon’s paper was based on 70 interviews with people who shared their personal life stories with her.

“The bourgeoisie is less of an economic definition and more of a social, cultural one.”

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