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Registration and RecognitionDocumenting the Person in World History$
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Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szreter

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780197265314

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.001.0001

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Birth of the ‘Secular’ Individual: Medical and Legal Methods of Identification in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

Birth of the ‘Secular’ Individual: Medical and Legal Methods of Identification in Nineteenth-Century Egypt

Chapter:
(p.335) 13 Birth of the ‘Secular’ Individual: Medical and Legal Methods of Identification in Nineteenth-Century Egypt
Source:
Registration and Recognition
Author(s):

Khaled Fahmy

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197265314.003.0014

This chapter describes a number of medico-administrative and legal changes that were introduced in nineteenth-century Egypt and that gave rise to an individualized conception of identity. Prompted by the recruitment needs of a new conscript army, an administrative apparatus was put in place that gave rise to novel techniques of identifying peasants, monitoring their movements, and controlling their bodies. A wide-ranging public hygiene programme aimed at serving the army resulted in a statistical regime whose crowning achievement was a nation-wide census. Concurrently, legal reforms replaced the reputational and oral witnesses that the shari'a relied on with named and written forms of identification. The chapter concludes with a discussion about the implications of this rise of a free-floating individual for conceptions of legal equality.

Keywords:   Egypt, conscript army, public hygiene, census, legal reforms, shari'a, legal equality

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