A Border Passage: From Cairo to America-A Woman's Journey

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9780374115180: A Border Passage: From Cairo to America-A Woman's Journey

A lyrical memoir--from Egyptian Muslim girlhood to American feminist womanhood.

Leila Ahmed grew up in Cairo in the 1940s and '50s in a family that was eagerly and passionately political. Although many in the Egyptian upper classes were firmly opposed to change, the Ahmeds were proud supporters of independence. But the family's opposition to Nasser's policies led to persecutions that would set their youngest child on a journey across cultures and through some of the major transformations of our century: the end of colonialism and the European empires, the creation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism, and the breakdown of the multireligious society that had thrived in Egypt.

Through university in England and teaching jobs in Abu Dhabi and America, Ahmed sought to define herself-and to understand how the world defined her-as a woman, a Muslim, an Egyptian, and an Arab. Her search touched on language and nationalism, on variations in men's and women's ways of knowing, and on vastly different interpretations of Islam. In the end she arrived at an ardent but critical feminism and an insider's understanding of multiculturalism and religious pluralism. In language that vividly evokes the lush summers of her Cairo youth and the fierce beauty of the Arabian desert, Ahmed has provided a story that can help us understand the passages between cultures that so affect our global society.

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From the Back Cover:

AS SHE JOURNEYS ACROSS CULTURES, AN EGYPTIAN WOMAN STRUGGLES TO DEFINE HERSELF

In language that vividly evokes the lush summers of Cairo and the stark beauty of the Arabian Desert, Leila Ahmed tells the story of her life. This moving memoir begins with her Egyptian childhood amid the rich tradition of Islamic women, and ends with her longing to understand and to come to terms with her own identity as a feminist living in America. Growing up in Cairo in the 1940s and 1950s. Ahmed witnessed some of the major transformations of this century: the end of British colonialism, the creation of Israel, the rise of Arab nationalism under Nasser, and the breakdown of Egypt's once multireligious society. Through the turmoil, she searches to define herself -- and to understand how the world defines her -- as a woman, a Muslim, an Egyptian, and an Arab. She poignantly reflects upon issues of language, race, and nationality while unveiling the hidden and often misunderstood world of women's Islam.

About the Author:

Leila Ahmed, a professor of women's studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is the author of Women and Gender in Islam. She lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

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