Roger Owen Book Award

Hanan H. Hammad

Texas Christian University

2017 Honorable Mention

Hanan H. Hammad

Hanan H. Hammad

This book offers an unparalleled socio-economic history of industrial transformation, with a focus on gender relations in a provincial city on the Nile Delta that was home to one of the region’s most important economic institutions and workplaces: Bank Misr’s Spinning and Weaving Company at al-Mahalla al-Kubra . Using a wide array of archival sources, including company records, state reports and petitions, court records, memoirs, maps, and extensive oral histories, the author excavates the mundane urban experiences of workers and makes visible previously untold patterns of provincial migration, informal male associations, family life, sex-work, women’s urban property ownership, and labor relations. Its documentation of how gender relations caused industrial transformation—and ultimately, the way that claims to control venereal disease functioned to recreate the local workforce and undermine national support of the workers’ struggle at al-Mahalla in the 1940s—brings sex-working and striking together to revise existing narratives of labor history and economic nationalism; it does so by offering us a rare history that unfolds from deep analysis of emerging and contested regimes of both masculinity and femininity. The book’s microhistorical reconstruction of the provincial town of al-Mahalla al-Kubra provides rich, thick description of the urban environment told through lively stories of individuals and groups usually absent from the historical record. Industrial Sexualityprovides a more varied and complex view of an important company and workplace, a much-needed history of women industrial workers, and model for writing regional and provincial history. It will change the way we teach and research twentieth-century Egyptian history, labor history, and Middle East urban studies more generally.

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