Sa'ad Zaghlul's Gramophone: The Effects of Popular Music on the Egyptian Nation


  • Haley Lepp School of Foreign Service Georgetown University


Egyptian music was affected by and had a significant effect on Egyptian politics, economics, and society prior to the 1919 revolution. In this paper, I explore the diverse musical traditions of Egyptian populations in the era prior to the fall of the Khedivate to give context to the changes that occurred during the years of the British Protectorate and World War I. I highlight the democratizing effect that the introduction of new recording technologies had on Egyptian society, demonstrating that the marketization of musical culture in many ways homogenized what was previously a culturally diverse population. Finally, I argue that the social networks created by popular song allowed Egyptians of all backgrounds to construct and participate in a public national consciousness, creating an environment ripe for the 1919 revolutions and the independence movement that followed.






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