Navigation – Plan du site

AccueilTroisième série23Sources and MaterialsSearching for a Past: French Colo...

Sources and Materials

Searching for a Past: French Colonial Memory of Ismailia in the early 20th Century

À la recherche d’un passé : la mémoire de la colonisation française à Ismaïlia au xxe siècle
ذكريات من الاستعمار الفرنسي للإسماعيلية في أوائل القرن العشرين
Mohamed Gamal-Eldin
p. 161-172

Résumés

Cet article s’intéresse aux souvenirs de la vie à Ismaïlia décrits par Timsah, la lettre d’information d’un groupe d’anciens expatriés dans la région. Ce nom renvoie d’abord à la large étendue d’eau salée et ses rives, où se trouve Ismaïlia. Mais le nom lie également Ismaïlia à l’Égypte, à travers l’image du crocodile, un animal à la fois craint et vénéré. Ce périodique diffuse des informations, photos, articles, recettes de cuisine pour les Français ayant vécu en Égypte et les Égyptiens vivant en France, qui se rappellent avec nostalgie d’un passé idéal, allant même jusqu’à souhaiter la réinstauration de la monarchie. Les recettes de cuisine ont vocation à être facilement réalisées afin de recréer les parfums et saveurs d’antan, alors que les photos représentent des paysages d’étendues d’eau, de jardins, de plages, de fêtes et d’écoles ainsi que la vie dans les villas de l’élite européenne qui travaillait dans la Compagnie du canal de Suez. Ces souvenirs d’une vie quasi coloniale ressemblent beaucoup à celles d’autres colons dans d’autres colonies et sont comparables à ceux de la famille de colons blancs français dans le fil « la Noire de… » de Sembène Ousmane (1968). Ces familles d’Ismaïlia qui ont émigré après la nationalisation du canal de Suez en 1956, ou même avant, entendent sauvegarder une partie de ce passé avec eux à leur retour en métropole. Cet article tente de questionner les idées de mémoire et d’espace, telles que présentées dans les numéros de Timsah. En utilisant la lettre d’information, je tâche de montrer combien les anciens résidents ont du mal à se défaire des lieux. Alors qu’ils tentent de sauvegarder des morceaux et recréer des parfums et saveurs, ils posent un regard colonial et orientaliste sur les paysages d’Ismaïlia et la région du canal de Suez – non pas l’Ismaïlia ou le Canal actuels, mais ceux du passé. Méthodologiquement, j’utilise les photographies et les textes de la lettre d’information comme un collage ou des fragments, que je superpose avec des interrogations et des commentaires ; de la même façon qu’un article académique classique, mais en me focalisant davantage sur les objets, de par la nature-même de la sélection.

Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 Originally in French (translation by author): “Timsah”: Tu deviens symbole de nostalgie / On y rec (...)

“Timsah”: You become a symbol of nostalgia
We search for memories of the past
As if we don't have enough of the present
To give life a semblance of magic.
Joseph Ghali, Journal de Timsah, 19771

Introduction

  • 2 The collection was accessed via the website of the Centre d’Études Alexandrines (CEAlex), which ha (...)

1This paper intends to examine the memory of life in Ismailia, as depicted by the Timsah association, a francophone organization of former residents and expatriates founded in the 1970s, and its pluriannual newsletter, the Journal de Timsah published from 1976 to 20172. The newsletter’s title refers to the large saline-rich interior body of water on which Ismailia looks out upon, Lake Timsah. Further, it connects Ismailia and Egypt to the imagery of a crocodile, the associations’ logo, an animal both feared and revered, particularly in ancient Egyptian folklore. The newsletter, in essence, was a means to update former/exiled French expatriates, which included French-Egyptian nationals in France. The Timsah newsletter published photos, essays, and in a number of issues, recipes, to remind the readers of an idyllic semi-colonial past-life. Descriptions of Egyptian dishes and full-on recipes are meant to be easily replicated to recreate the smells and tastes of an earlier time. One can imagine the former residents of Ismailia rummaging their kitchen for ingredients in an attempt to have the aroma of a classic dish of shrimp over rice pilaf or stuffed pigeon fill their home.

2Additionally, the newsletter photographs depict life along the Canal through the imagery of the waterways, gardens, beach outings, parties, schooling, and villa-life of the European elite of the town who worked for the Suez Canal Company. These memories of a colonial past-life are similar to other returns to the colonial settings for those who had a tie to the colony. Similar to the French-colonial white family in Ousmane Sembène’s film La Noire de… (1966), Ismailia families who immigrated after the Suez Canal nationalization in 1956, or even earlier, seek to retain a piece of the colony with them after their return to the metropole. This paper thus attempts to interrogate the ideas of memory and space as they appear in issues of Timsah. Mobilizing the newsletter, I show how the former colonizers-residents, even in a semi-colonial space or company town setting, do not let go of their hold on the former places they lived in. As they try to keep pieces and recreate smells and tastes, they demonstrate their colonial and orientalist gaze on the landscape of Ismailia and the region of the Suez Canal, not the Ismailia or Canal of the present, but the one of the past.

  • 3 The association boasted of several hundred members in its first newsletter. Journal de Timsah, Mar (...)
  • 4 In what follows, I use Timsah to refer to the association, and Timsah in italics to refer specific (...)

3Methodologically, this paper uses the stories, recipes, histories, and memoirs found in the newsletter Journal de Timsah as a primary source to engage with ideas of memory, exile, departure, and space in the post-nationalization context of Egypt and France. Founded in 1975 by former Canal Company employees and their children, the historical society and newsletter commemorate living in Ismailia through a collection of memories and histories of a place they once lived in3. Yet, these memories were created from imaginings of a different past life and an ideal community. Those who were members of the association and the newsletter’s production were family members of former Canal Company pilots, engineers, and business owners. The association and its newsletter curated a place for memory and for planning future trips. There was a sense of pride related to the place and the degree of connections of this major 19th century engineering project. Memory, here, is used as a means towards understanding the way all aspects of life in the Canal cities were imagined in the past, today, and in the future by those who edited, contributed, and participated to the Timsah association and newsletter4. As such, a community emerged around language, the built urban spaces along the Canal, and shared memories of life in Egypt. Memory and its relative emotion nostalgia are examined here, for as Dennis Walder argues, “nostalgia begins in desire, and may well end in truth. It can, and often does, serve as a key to the multiple pasts that make us who and what we are, for better or worse” (Walder 2011, 3). I argue that this imagined return to a place that is no longer your own hinted to the creation of a new temporal space in culture, literature and history writing for the newsletter’s contributors. As such, this case study begins to pull at the threads of memory and placemaking in the Suez Canal cities of Ismailia and Port Said to better understand the historical lineages of exile, post-coloniality and imagined histories.

History

  • 5 Carminati provides a good overview of the complex historiography of the Suez Canal cities and wate (...)

4Prior to the establishment of the Suez Canal and the founding of Port Said (1859) and Ismailia (1860) in the 19th century, the area where this important infrastructural project was built was sparsely populated by local Egyptian farmers, fishermen, and Bedouins. It was a semi-colonial space with multi-systems of governance (Piaton 2016). Based on the initial concession agreed upon between Ferdinand de Lesseps and Egyptian ruler Sa‘îd Pasha, the Suez Canal Company (SCC) had access to the land adjacent to the Canal and in Ismailia, and the new addition to Suez, Port Tewfik, administrative governance of the urban environments. The SCC could be compared to other types of company towns, but I prefer to term it semi-colonial due to the multiple ways that the company controlled the built environment, the employees, and saw the SCC as part of the French foreign empire (Carminati 20215).

  • 6 A 1922-23 census indicates that the Greek population was 4,047 in Port Said, 1,191 in Ismailia and (...)
  • 7 The CEAlex and l’Association du Souvenir de Ferdinand de Lesseps et du Canal de Suez interviewed a (...)

5The creation of the Canal and cities required a large importation of foreign labor. Laborers from Europe (France, Italy, Greece, and Malta) made up a sizable amount of the population of the new urban quarters of the Suez Canal cities (Carminati 2018, Dalachais 2020). Additionally, Egyptian laborers were brought to the Suez Canal zone, first as forced laborers, to dig the seawater and freshwater canals, and then as emigrants from Upper and Lower Egypt looking for work. The administrative positions were primarily filled with European immigrants, while the captains of the tugboats which guided ships through the Canal were manned primarily by Greeks (Curli 2014, Dalachais 2020). Egyptians toiled in the menial tasks, the hard labor, and in some cases worked as boat captains and in the workshops of the Suez Canal Company (Lockman 1994). Indian and Upper Egyptian laborers heaved coal into the waiting ships, unloaded goods, and hawked wares to ship passengers. The European inhabitants (Italians, Greeks, British-Maltese, and French), far outnumbered by Egyptian labor and their families6, lived in unequal domestic spaces, but shared the same urban environment. Their minority memoirs now fill the Anglo-European bookshelf on the Suez Canal7. European residents began repatriating back to their families’ original homelands or to other nations after the 1952 Egyptian revolution and further immigration continued after the nationalization of the Suez Canal by Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1956 which led to a British, French, and Israeli attack on Egypt and the bombardment of the Suez Canal cities.

6As a brief interlude, the next section links the current case study of the Suez Canal to similar research questions about memory and nostalgia in other Egyptian sites.

On Memories

  • 8 For a critique of cosmopolitanism, see: Halim 2013.

7The corniche, the sea and the so-called cosmopolitism of 19th century Alexandria has led to numerous literary and semi-biographical accounts by travelers and former residents of an invented past life for the city8. Khaled Fahmy has incisively analyzed the city as imagined by writers like Constantine P. Cavafy and André Aciman, and has argued that their versions of Alexandria were “created” (Fahmy 2006). This is not an old type of city writing as it goes on well into the present. In a recent short piece for The Paris Review for instance, Aciman bemoans the present city of Alexandria and asks his readers to remember the city as he knew it, the idealized cosmopolitan port-city on the Mediterranean (2021). The text elides a complicated past for an imagined memory. The poor, the destitute, the laborer, the middle-class Egyptian town resident is just a backdrop to landmarks, or what Pierre Nora described as the “symbolic typology” (Nora and Kritzman 1996) of the city: its tram, coffeeshops, seascapes and monuments, and more particularly, its Ancient Greek and Pharaonic Egyptian past lives.

  • 9 Lucia Carminati has examined these linkages to a Biblical past, the early tourism at the Suez Cana (...)

8Turning to Port Said, Sylvia Modelski uses the same tools used by the Timsah community of immigrated former residents to “re-visit” the home of her birth and early childhood. Chats with former residents “revive and clarify fading memories,” highlighting both the challenges of memory and the ways we build our memory’s fragments into a unique story (Modelski 2000). The Port Said of her childhood only exists in pieces or remnants of architecture now inhabited by a new generation, who has repurposed the space. Landmarks remain and faint memories fill the city and mind. While it is for the most part a well-researched and sympathetic memoir to the city, Modelski’s book highlights the problems of memory and space which continue to inhibit the way historians study Egypt (Gran 2020, Carruthers 2017). The Exodus, Genesis, Ancient Greece, and the Classical period receive a larger share of focus as it relates to the role it played in how we remember the city of Port Said and the area where the Suez Canal was engineered. By juxtaposing the Biblical “Land of Goshen” and the modern Egyptian states’ administrative labeling for the area (mudiriyat al-sharqiya), Modelski links memory with a bureaucratic ordering (Carminati 20209).

9Similar to the aspirations of former residents and readers of Journal de Timsah, the cities of the Suez Canal are now to be “revisited” or “commemorated.” Living there is complicated, of course, but there is no desire to return, only to remember. As the next section shows, the nostalgia depicted in the newsletter highlights the unique way that postcolonial memory worked to elide the negative and reify a specific past.

Nostalgia for “En Souvenir…”

  • 10 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 2.
  • 11 For example: Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 12-24.

10Following the October War of 1973, a group of former residents, or those who had family that lived in Ismailia prior to the war and the nationalization of the Suez Canal, formed the Timsah association to commemorate and memorialize the building of the Canal and to share their picture of the social life of the town10. As a local and unofficial institution to the perseveration of memory ran by and for former residents of the Canal cities, its newsletter, annual events and trips helped to curate a historical view of the life prior to Egyptian nationalization in 1956. Part of the association’s calendar of annual events was a soirée where those with connections to Ismailia came together to share a meal and see acquaintances. These meetings in the post-colonial environment of the French metropole were a means to relive memories of a past life, a life to be commemorated through the association and its newsletter. The latter became a forum that linked those with similar connections and a place where one could share addresses (for example, if you were passing through a town where a former Ismailia resident lived you might stop-in to get a drink and a story), photographs, history – both ancient Egyptian and modern – personal stories, and of course, recipes. The dinner events, trips and the newsletters’ articles thus became a tool of memory that etched a particular fantasy in a similar fashion to the “symbolic typology” of Pierre Nora (1989). Photographs and historical essays erect these “symbolic” monuments to the past, and planned trips to “re-visit” the country and cities (as Modelski does), create a tangible connection to expatriates’ memories11.

11Under headings like “En souvenir” (in memory of) and “Vous souvenez-vous” (do you remember), Timsah published images supplied by residents of past class photos, costume parties, Suez Canal Company administrators and ship pilots, views of Ismailia and the shore, as well as ships that passed through the Canal. It is a field where photographs hearken back to the memory of life in Ismailia (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Journal de Timsah, summer 1979, no. 10: 24-25.

Figure 1. Journal de Timsah, summer 1979, no. 10: 24-25.
  • 12 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 8.
  • 13 A small private bathing area made out of wood and spaced out individually along the water.

12The “En souvenir” section of the newsletter cultivated nostalgia, a powerful emotion that is used throughout the entire run of Timsah12. The newsletter depicted the “simpler time” during French colonial/company rule along the Suez Canal Zone. Images of verdant parks and bathing chateau’s13 along Lake Timsah create an idyllic scene that elides a much more complicated past where neighborhoods were divided and labor was hierarchized by ethnicity (Gamal-Eldin 2020). To gloss over inequalities for the sake of memorialization of an imagined past is part of the postcolonial process of memory making (Cole 2001, Walder 2011, Loomba 2005). It is, as Dennis Walder admits of his own place – having been born in apartheid South Africa – in postcolonial writing, the creation “of myself refracted through pasts” (2011). Timsah as such stands as an uncritical newsletter to colonial memory. By using the narrative form of history writing, it offers a seemingly “objective” view of life in Ismailia or Port Said.

  • 14 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 19.
  • 15 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 17.
  • 16 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 19.
  • 17 Journal de Timsah, June 1977, no. 5: 22.
  • 18 Ibid.
  • 19 Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 26.
  • 20 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 18.

13Journal de Timsah further adds to an orientalized imaginary of life in the colony with a particular focus in the early issues on Egyptian recipes. A smorgasbord of local cuisines is prepared for the associations’ readers. For the produits exotiques, a listing is supplied of local stores where one can find “exotic products” in France14. First under the heading “Egyptian recipes” and later “At your stove,” dishes like bulgur stuffed pigeon15, prawns over rice pilaf16, tahina17, moussaka18 and “Gateau Oum Ali”19, as well as the Bedouin “Cérémonie du Thé20 (tea ceremony) are detailed. As Laleh Khalili recently argued in a review article of Iranian cookbooks, recipes are “political” (2021). Here, they are used as a form of memory making. The hope is to return aromas, tastes and foods back into the mind of the reader. What you once had in Ismailia on family outings, or prepared by your housekeeper, can now be reproduced at home, in France. The mascot of Timsah (Figure 2), a crocodile sipping champagne while wearing a beret, is symbolic of the social life that the Egyptian cuisine is meant to invoke.

Figure 2. Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 21.

Figure 2. Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 21.
  • 21 As I write, my own nostalgia of similar experiences appears. Memories are complicated and distorte (...)

14Food is a powerful tool of nostalgia and is evoked to trigger memories of happier days, on holiday or with family around the table enjoying the delicacies. One can imagine the memories that simmer up to the surface when one thinks back to outings at the club or restaurant for the typically large Red Sea prawns, of warm summer days near the salt water of Lake Timsah eating while on a break from sunbathing or swimming21.

  • 22 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 13-16.
  • 23 On the memory debates around Lesseps’ statue, see in this issue, Ahmed Elgezy’s contribution.

15Finally, Timsah members jointly planned to travel back to Egypt and Ismailia for a tour through the past. The excursion was the perfect way to locate memories and “revisit” life in the colonial town where the traveler was born. The newsletter detailed these trips with articles that reviewed its highlights and pointed out details related to Pharaonic and Biblical histories, alongside journeys to reminisce about Ismailia life22. In early issues, the travelers related the state of architectural monuments post-Egyptian-Israeli warfare. They pointed out what was destroyed and what had been restored. Part evidence of the destruction incurred by Israeli bombardment of Ismailia, the annual trips gave expatriates a reason to explore their memories. Peppered along with these texts were photographs of travelers and Egyptians. In one voyage from October 1999, the association’s members used their time along the Suez Canal at Port Said and Port Fouad to make their way to a Canal company storage space. There, they found the removed monument of the Canal’s nineteenth century progenitor, Ferdinand de Lesseps, that once stood at the entrance of the Canal at the tip of the corniche in Port Said (Figure 3)23. Staged next to the Frenchman this image evokes the past and the present. It highlighted the complicated story of the creation of the Canal. The statue is representative of European involvement in the sovereign affairs of Egypt and the eliding of the Egyptian narratives of forced labor and a low status under colonial/company rule of the Suez Canal Company. Yet, posing next to the Lesseps statue here is seemingly only meant to commemorate a past where he stood at the Mediterranean entrance welcoming ship traffic into the port and Canal.

16By the last issue in April 2017, the association mentioned its decreasing membership, and apparently readership. Memories fade. With the loss of members, largely due to old age, those who remember or have ties (real or imagined) with the city of Ismailia are few and far between. As such, Timsah provides the historian/researcher a unique archive into post-colonial memory along the Suez Canal.

Figure 3. Journal de Timsah, May 2000, no. 49: 32.

Figure 3. Journal de Timsah, May 2000, no. 49: 32.

Conclusion

17Examining historical memory/place-making brought me thinking about my own trouble with memory/nostalgia as it related to my lived experience at my family’s home in Cairo. There was a time, albeit briefly, when Midan Lebnan (located in the Mohandessin neighborhood of Cairo) did not have a flyover connecting Cairo’s central neighborhoods to the new suburbs. I have found myself reminiscing with family members about this period, but was it actually better? There was always traffic, but for those who were pursuing the suburban lifestyles of the desert, it made the area a difficult space to traverse. The flyover, while horrendous in design and disruptive to the urban space, has had more or less positive outcomes, as it created a new space in the underpasses, for informal buses to ferry passengers out to the new towns of Cairo. So, while my memory and how I share it is necessarily subjective, based on my views as an urban historian and sometime resident, and my predilections for a particular type of urban lifestyle, it cannot be taken as historical artifact or some objective truth. As Walder declaims:

“postcolonial nostalgias have both positive and negative aspects: usually the latter is fore grounded, as the source of an insecure idealism or sentimentality, casting a beneficent glow over past suffering and anxiety; but there is also a positive side, which admits the past into the present in a fragmentary, nuanced, and elusive way, allowing a potential for self-reflexivity or irony appropriate for former colonial or diasporic subjects trying to understand the networks of power relations within which they are caught in the modern world, and beyond which it often seems impossible to move.” (2011, 16)

18Nostalgia can gloss over past atrocities, and generally it is used to reimagine the past into an idealized version, but it can also house a wealthy archive of material on the urban and social life of cities on the periphery of political and economic power in Egypt. This is the case here with the Journal de Timsah. While problematic in it attempts to imagine an idyllic past it also provides archive material, first person narratives of life in the city, reprinted company/Canal histories and photographs of life in Ismailia. It is thus an archive of nostalgia waiting for a critical analysis by historians. This study offers an exploratory study of nostalgia and memory as depicted by the Timsah newsletter and opens possible avenues of research to the historian of the city and space in post-colonial cities.

Haut de page

Bibliographie

Aciman, André. 2021. “Cavafy’s Bed.” The Paris Review. February 1, 2021.

Ministry of Finance, Annuaire Statistique de l’Égypte, 1923. Cairo: Imprimerie Nationale.

Carminati, Lucia. 2018. “Būr Sa’īd/Port Said, 1859-1900: Migration, Urbanization, and Empire in an Egyptian and Mediterranean Port-City.” PhD diss., University of Arizona.

Carminati, Lucia. 2020. “Port Said and Ismailia as Desert Marvels: Delusion and Frustration on the Isthmus of Suez, 1859-1869.” Journal of Urban History 46 (3): 622-47.

Carminati, Lucia. 2021. “Suez: A Hollow Canal in Need of Peopling. Currents and Stoppages in the Historiography, 1859-1956.” History Compass 19 (5).

Carruthers, William. 2017. “Visualizing a Monumental Past: Archeology, Nasser’s Egypt, and the Early Cold War,” History of Science 55 (3): 273-301.

Cole, Jennifer. 2001. Forget Colonialism? Sacrifice and the Art of Memory in Madagascar. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Curli, Barbara. 2014. “Dames Employées at the Suez Canal Company: The ‘Egyptianization’ of Female Office Workers, 1941-56.” International Journal of Middle East Studies 46 (3): 553-76.

Dalachais, Angelos. 2020. Greek Exodus from Egypt: Diaspora Politics and Emigration, 1937-1962. New York: Berghahn Books.

Fahmy, Khaled. “For Cavafy, with Love and Squalor: Some Critical Notes on the History and Historiography of Modern Alexandria. » In Alexandria: Real and Imagined, edited by Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk, 263-80. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press.

Gamal-Eldin, Mohamed. 2020. “Doing Environmental, Infrastructural, and Urban Histories Along the Suez Canal.” Jadaliyya, October 22, 2020.

Gran, Peter. 2020. The Persistence of Orientalism: Anglo-American Historians and Modern Egypt. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press.

Halim, Hala. 2013. Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism: An Archive. New York: Fordham University Press.

Khalili, Laleh. 2021. “The Savor of Memory,” Middle East Report Online, February 09, 2021.

Lockman, Zachary. 1994. Workers and Working Classes in the Middle East: Struggles, Histories, Historiographies. Albany: State University of New York Press.

Loomba, Ania. 2005. Postcolonial Studies and Beyond. Durham [N.C.]: Duke University Press.

Modelski, Sylvia. 2000. Port Said Revisited. Washington, D.C.: FAROS.

Nora, Pierre. 1989. “Between Memory and History: Les Lieux de Mémoire.” Représentations 26.

Nora, Pierre and Lawrence Kritzman. 1996. Realms of Memory: Rethinking the French Past. New York: Columbia University Press.

Piaton, Claudine. 2016. L’isthme et l’Égypte au temps de la Compagnie universelle du canal maritime de Suez (1858-1956). Cairo: Institut français d’archéologie orientale.

Walder, Dennis. 2011. Postcolonial Nostalgias: Writing, Representation and Memory. New York: Routledge.

Haut de page

Notes

1 Originally in French (translation by author): “Timsah”: Tu deviens symbole de nostalgie / On y recherche les souvenirs du passé / Comme si, du présent, on n’en avait pas assez / Pour donner à la vie un semblant de magie. Journal de Timsah, November 1977, no. 6: 16.

2 The collection was accessed via the website of the Centre d’Études Alexandrines (CEAlex), which has been collecting and digitizing francophone newspapers and periodicals in Egypt (Presse francophone d’Égypte) since 1798. The entire collection is accessible online: http://pfe.cealex.org. To access the Journal de Timsah collection referred to in this paper: http://pfe.cealex.org/diffusion/collection_reponse.php. More recent editions of the newsletter, as well as various images, reports and archives are available on the association’s website: http://www.lac-timsah.com. Around three issues of the Journal de Timsah were published annually, on average 35 to 40 pages in length each.

3 The association boasted of several hundred members in its first newsletter. Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1.

4 In what follows, I use Timsah to refer to the association, and Timsah in italics to refer specifically to the newsletter Journal de Timsah.

5 Carminati provides a good overview of the complex historiography of the Suez Canal cities and waterways that demonstrate the multiple problems in how we write about the history of life, governance, and plural sovereignties at play along the Canal.

6 A 1922-23 census indicates that the Greek population was 4,047 in Port Said, 1,191 in Ismailia and 1,072 in Suez. For the same years, the Italian population was 3,028 in Port Said, 657 in Ismailia and 739 in Suez, while Egyptians were 54,762 in Port Said, 10,493 in Ismailia and 22,981 in Suez (Ministry of Finance, 1923).

7 The CEAlex and l’Association du Souvenir de Ferdinand de Lesseps et du Canal de Suez interviewed a number of former residents and scholars on the history of the Canal and its cities, as part of the project Mémoires orales du canal de Suez (Oral Memories of the Suez Canal). Accessible online: http://memoires-du-canal-de-suez.asflcs.cealex.org/liste_enreg.php.

8 For a critique of cosmopolitanism, see: Halim 2013.

9 Lucia Carminati has examined these linkages to a Biblical past, the early tourism at the Suez Canal works and Ferdinand de Lesseps’ imaginings of returning to a Judeo-Christian past.

10 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 2.

11 For example: Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 12-24.

12 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 8.

13 A small private bathing area made out of wood and spaced out individually along the water.

14 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 19.

15 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 17.

16 Journal de Timsah, March 1976, no. 1: 19.

17 Journal de Timsah, June 1977, no. 5: 22.

18 Ibid.

19 Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 26.

20 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 18.

21 As I write, my own nostalgia of similar experiences appears. Memories are complicated and distorted but one can still return to the aromas of the past while exploring recipes or daydreaming of past days.

22 Journal de Timsah, June 1976, no. 2: 13-16.

23 On the memory debates around Lesseps’ statue, see in this issue, Ahmed Elgezy’s contribution.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1. Journal de Timsah, summer 1979, no. 10: 24-25.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/14789/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,3M
Titre Figure 2. Journal de Timsah, October 1976, no. 3: 21.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/14789/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 522k
Titre Figure 3. Journal de Timsah, May 2000, no. 49: 32.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/ema/docannexe/image/14789/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 1,6M
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence papier

Mohamed Gamal-Eldin, « Searching for a Past: French Colonial Memory of Ismailia in the early 20th Century »Égypte/Monde arabe, 23 | 2021, 161-172.

Référence électronique

Mohamed Gamal-Eldin, « Searching for a Past: French Colonial Memory of Ismailia in the early 20th Century »Égypte/Monde arabe [En ligne], 23 | 2021, mis en ligne le 01 janvier 2024, consulté le 25 juin 2024. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/ema/14789 ; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/ema.14789

Haut de page

Auteur

Mohamed Gamal-Eldin

Mohamed Gamal-Eldin is a historian of modern Egypt, interested in questions related to the built environment, urban history, architecture, social history and environmental ecology of urban centers in 19th and early 20th century Egypt, the Middle East and globally. His PhD dissertation, awarded by the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University in 2020, is an interdisciplinary analysis of the Suez Canal cities entitled “Cities of Sand: Reshaping the Environment, Building Towns and Finding Modernity in the Isthmus of Suez,1856-1936.” It offers an environmental, architectural and infrastructural history that looks at the evolution of the Canal towns and provides a lens into the social history of those who resided in these towns.

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

CC-BY-NC-SA-4.0

Le texte seul est utilisable sous licence CC BY-NC-SA 4.0. Les autres éléments (illustrations, fichiers annexes importés) sont « Tous droits réservés », sauf mention contraire.

Haut de page
Rechercher dans OpenEdition Search

Vous allez être redirigé vers OpenEdition Search