Indigenization and Modernization

Work thumb

Views: 117

  • Title: Indigenization and Modernization: The Invention of a Truly Egyptian Drama
  • Author(s): Hala Ghoneim
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies
  • Keywords: Arabic Literature, Egyptian Drama, Postcolonial Modernisms
  • Volume: 17
  • Issue: 1
  • Year: 2019
  • ISSN: 2327-0055 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-2376 (Online)
  • DOI:
  • Citation: Ghoneim, Hala. 2019. "Indigenization and Modernization: The Invention of a Truly Egyptian Drama." The International Journal of Critical Cultural Studies 17 (1): 73-87. doi:10.18848/2327-0055/CGP/v17i01/73-87.
  • Extent: 15 pages


The development of modern Egyptian drama has been shaped by confrontations with and attempted hybridization of the Self (traditional poetics) and the Other (Western poetics). Arabic poets have operated within well-established and often hegemonic traditions and have had literary giants as ancestors to look up to or challenge. Arabic dramatists, on the other hand, had little or no indigenous traditions in which to ground themselves, and most relied on Western traditions to introduce the genre into Arabic literary tradition. Unlike poets who struggled to escape from hegemonic literary traditions, playwrights had to develop, nourish, and promote every indigenous form they could find, like al-samir and al-muqallid. This article investigates, compares, and critiques three attempts by Tawfiq al-Hakim, Yusuf Idris, and Najib Surur to simultaneously revitalize indigenous dramatic forms and employ Western theories and devices in order to forge what they viewed as a truly Egyptian drama. My investigation focuses mostly on drama because there has not been any worthwhile theorization of this issue in Egyptian theater and because very little of the playwrights’ theorization about theater has been put into practice. However, performance will occasionally be discussed whenever it intersects meaningfully with the issue of the invention of a truly Egyptian theater.