Modernizing Marriage: Family, Ideology, and Law in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Egypt

Kenneth M. Cuno

Research output: Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook


In 1910, when Khedive Abbas II married a second wife surreptitiously, the contrast with his openly polygamous grandfather, Ismail, whose multiple wives and concubines signified his grandeur and masculinity, could not have been greater. That contrast reflected the spread of new ideals of family life that accompanied the development of Egypt’s modern marriage system. Modernizing Marriage explores the evolution of marriage and marital relations, shedding new light on the social and cultural history of Egypt. Family is central to modern Egyptian history and in the ruling court did the “political work.” Indeed, the modern state began as a household government in which members of the ruler’s household served in the military and civil service. Cuno discusses political and sociodemographic changes that affected marriage and family life and the production of a family ideology by modernist intellectuals, who identified the family as a site crucial to social improvement, and for whom the reform and codification of Muslim family law was a principal aim. Throughout Modernizing Marriage, Cuno examines Egyptian family history in a comparative and transnational context, addressing issues of colonial modernity and colonial knowledge, Islamic law and legal reform, social history, and the history of women and gender.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Place of PublicationSyracuse
PublisherSyracuse University Press
Number of pages307
ISBN (Electronic)9780815653165
ISBN (Print)9780815633921
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015

Publication series

NameGender and Globalization

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities
  • General Social Sciences


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