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Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950$
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Marwa Elshakry

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780226001302

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226001449.001.0001

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Evolution and the Eastern Question

Evolution and the Eastern Question

(p.73) Two Evolution and the Eastern Question
Reading Darwin in Arabic, 1860-1950

Marwa Elshakry

University of Chicago Press

Following Al-Muqtataf’s move to Cairo after the British occupation in 1882-83, this chapter examines how the journal focused increasingly on discussions of social evolutionary thought and on questions of civilizational rise and fall, universal progress and social development. Turning ever more to a cosmic vision of evolution and universal natural laws, they were particularly inspired by the writings of Herbert Spencer. Their concern with social progress and civilizational decline also led them toward a new engagement with issues of race, particularly around the time of the newly declared Anglo-Egyptian Condominium with Sudan, as well as to a new concern with examples of “Eastern progress,” especially in the wake of Japan’s victory during the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. This was also reflected in the works of their former Syrian Protestant College and co-collaborator (later the editor of another major literary and scientific journal in its own right), Jurji Zaydan. Yet their engagement with these issues, their close relations with the British and their founding, with British backing, of a daily newspaper, Al-Muqattam, in 1899 soon led them to be attacked by Arab nationalists and anti-colonial critics.

Keywords:   Popularization, Social Evolution, Civilization, Progress, Race, British imperialism, Anti-colonialism, Egypt, Sudan

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