Prof. Alexander Ganse
Kim Hyun Ho
The Impact of Modernization
This special research paper deals with the impact of
globalization or modernization on the city of
The Impact of Modernization
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1. Globalization and its Consequences: homogenization, particularization, and hybridization
2. Urban Growth of
2.1. Brief introduction
2.2. The initial attempts at modernization: 1800~1850
emergence of modern
2.4. The colonial period: 1880~1950
2.5. Development and changes after the revolution: 1950~1965
2.6. The new wave of urban growth: 1965~1980
2.8. Duality of
3.1. Impact of
modernization on the society of
Internal transformation: Changes in
Brief introduction and description of
3.3.2. 1st stage: Katb al-kitab (Registration of marriage)
3.3.3. 2nd stage: Preparations for the Farah
3.3.4. 3rd stage: The Farah
3.3.5. Overall analysis
The population of the
Before dealing with this external
Having lived in
1. Globalization and its consequences: homogenization, particularization, and hybridization
During the 1980s, the concept of globalization was used with increasing frequency throughout various fields in the social sciences. Scholars from different disciplines attempted to define the concept of globalization and to characterize its impacts on a specific society. Giddens and Harvey, who made significant contributions to building a theory of globalization, refer to it as time-space distanciation or time-space compression that conceives of a stretching and deepening process in the social interactions and relations of people. In other words, in the globalized society, distance is no longer a problem for communication between individuals all over the world. As a result, goods, knowledge, images, cultures, fashions, stars, and beliefs from one part of the world may have significant consequences for individuals and communities in other distant parts of the globe. Thus, globalization could be described as a complex network and interconnections that transcend boundaries and nations in the contemporary era. However, globalization has varying impacts on different individuals and groups, according to the degree of exposure to external influences and to the degree of willingness to accept them. This is usually determined by various factors such as class, gender, and religion. In this respect, it could be noted that globalization is not only imposed from the outside, but is also absorbed from the inside.
The impacts of globalization on culture could be categorized into three slightly different ideas according to the way the global and the local culture come into contact with each other: homogenization, particularization, and hybridization. First, homogenization refers to the process of cultural integration within which people accept the prevailing or standardized external culture and assimilate into it. The homogenization of culture is often used interchangeably with cultural imperialism. However, some oppose this view and contend that a mutual influence and exchange are taking place between the core and peripheral nations.
The second approach to understanding the impacts of globalization is particularization. According to this perspective, individuals and groups adhere to their own cultural traditions and resist the trend of globalization. Individuals and groups would keep their culture sealed, intact, and homeogenous, maintaining the steadfast boundaries separating it from others. Anti-globalism, cultural fundamentalism, and cultural nationalism are the terms related to this category.
Finally, the third approach to understanding outcomes from the impact of globalization on culture is through the notion of hybridization. Hybridization signifies the intermingling process of the global and the local culture, creating a third novel one. According to this theory, there is no longer anything absolutely foreign, and there exists no longer anything exclusively indigenous or local either.
2. Development of
2.1 Brief introduction
2.2. The initial attempts at modernization: 1800~1850
As the nineteenth century began,
An amazing fact is that more than 400,000
construction workers were once employed by the Pasha to labor on various
government projects. Some major destructions were undertaken to create space
and materials for the Pasha's ambitious new plans. The government also took the
responsibility of improving the road system, because almost every street in
2.3. The emergence of modern
If the initial period was a fledgling stage
which showed prospects for future changes, the period between 1850 and 1880
could be described as a kind of a catalyst that sped up the process. The major
change was the sudden influx of foreigners pouring into
The first of these newly built districts was
Ismailiya, which was planned by a French architect. Consequently, European
features and architecture that contrasted with the Islamic environment were first
As foreigners controlled increasing
proportions of the financial and land markets,
2.4. The colonial period: 1880~1950
Broadening European influence over the second
half of the nineteenth century eventually culminated in the establishment of a
British colonial administration in 1882, which would continue until 1922. The
1882 census data tells that out of a total population of 374,000 in
The colonial period saw even larger increase
in the number of Europeans, mostly British. As a result, a rapid or almost
explosive development of new residential areas took place with huge amounts of
foreign capital flowing in to invest in this urban development. Transportation
network also improved greatly with the advent of the electric tramways and the
building of bridges across the
However, these developments and improvements
were inevitably accompanied by the introduction of industrial slums. Nearby,
the area called Bulaq in the northern part of
2.5. Development and changes after the revolution: 1950~1965
After another Coup d'etat in 1954, President Nasser's administration was in power. His policies focused primarily on national economic and social development. However, he seemed to have no clue to the booming population that was doubling from three to six million in less than twenty years.
After the July Revolution of 1952, the number
of foreigners in
More dramatic population movements within the
city continued to take place and led to greater disparities between the two
parts of the city: the older quarters characterized by poverty and
obsolescence, and the new districts with their modern buildings and various
novel services for middle- and upper-class. In order to combat these worsening
problems, the so-called master plan for
2.6. The new wave of urban growth: 1965~1980
With the adoption of Intifada policy, urban
growth and modernization of
Because of this unceasing population growth,
the expansion of
Although the modernization or urbanization
has induced many positive effects, its negative impact is very intense, too.
The modernization process has seriously exacerbated the city's infrastructure.
The city's water supply, sewage system, waste and garbage disposal, and
transportation systems are completely inadequate and outdated to meet
Transportation and communications are also notorious problems in this great city. Age, inadequate maintenance, and lack of government's efforts have affected the quality and efficiency of the transport system. Traffic congestion is severe, compounded by narrow roads in the city and a serious disregard of traffic regulations by vehicles and pedestrians alike. Here is a helpful excerpt from Amin Galal's book describing the traffic jam in detail:
"The traffic congestion is an extremely
serious problem in
However, other than these problems, some
experts view the alienation as the most serious problem entailed by
modernization. This is not only a dilemma for
2.8. Duality of
The apartment building in which I lived for
the last two years in
3. Changes in
3.1 Impact of modernization on
the society of
Experts tend to attribute the abrupt and
somewhat disturbing social, political, economic, and cultural change to the
open door policy (Intifah) initiated under President Sadat in the mid-1970s,
and to the large-scale migration of Egyptian laborers to the Arab states of the
Gulf region that began around the same time. However, in my opinion, the July
Revolution of 1952 was the real factor that sparked of the modernization of
Modernization's most significant impact could
be that it put Cairenes under a massive Western influence. Even though the
Egyptians, like most other Arabs, have comparatively ill or hostile feelings
Because of heavy Western influence which was
enhanced by modernization, Cairenes have come to adopt many western ways of
thinking. The primary factor behind this phenomenon might be numerous foreign
To demonstrate an instance how the
modernization has affected the attitudes and the material values of Cairenes,
private cars would proviced an easy and prominent evidence. The father of my
friend, Ahmed, told me about this change. In 1940s and 1950s, the bus was a
comparatively convenient and cheap means of transport for most Cairenes. Until
the mid-1960s, the idea of owning a private car never occurred to him. However,
after coming back to
In the next part, I will continue to explain
the internal transformation cause by modernization by extensively and
thoroughly demonstrating the change in
3.2 Internal transformation:
Brief introduction and description of
Most weddings in the Muslim society consist
of two parts: the katb al-kitab, the ceremony at which the marriage is
registered to the government; the farah, the actual wedding reception,
after which the couple is considered formally married. In general, the katb
al-kitab takes place in the mosque or at the home of the bride's parents.
The ceremony is held either on the same day as the farah, or several
months beforehand. As for the farah, unlike the past when it was usually
held in the bride's residence, the middle- and upper-class in
As we can witness from the Egyptian films and
television programs, weddings in
These typical western style weddings began to
gain popularity during the earlier processes of modernization and
westernization since several decades ago. The influence of easy Internet access
and of foreign films and magazines, as well as other globalized communicative
mechanisms obviously have had a significant impact on
In order to properly and thoroughly investigate the changing patterns of wedding in Cairo due to modernization, I have categorized the marriage patterns into those of two generations: those of the parents who were married before infitah, Egypt's Open Door policy under which more westernized and globalized thinking started to flourish in the 1970s; those of their children who are currently of marriageable age or recently married. Also, I have divided the typical Egyptian wedding ceremony into Katb al-Kitab (registration of marriage), preparation of the Farah, and the Farah.
3.1.2 Katb al-kitab (Registration of marriage)
In the past, katb al-kitab, the formal and official registration of marriage, took place in the home of the bride's parents and was mediated by a maudhun. It is also called 'aqd al-nikah (knotting of the marriage) in the sense that the registration procedure binds the two families together. Once the contract is signed in this ritual, the couple are announced as being legally husband and wife. However, they do not live together until they have had the farah. Today, the katb al-kitab is typically held in the mosque or clubs rather than in the home of the bride's parents. Otherwise, the current katb al-kitab remains more or less the same as the one carried out almost two centuries ago.
However, there is one significant difference. There are two ways of performing the katb al-kitab ceremony. In the more traditional type, men and women are segregated during the ceremony. In the other modern or contemporary type of katb al-kitab, the sexes are mixed. Among the segregated and mixed katb al-kitab, I will briefly introduce how the latter is carried out. At a mosque in Nasser City of Cairo, men and women interact freely. Before the ceremony takes place, people exchange greetings with each other. The ceremony soon begins when the representatives of the two families taking part in the signing of the marriage contract have taken their seats at a long table. There are the two witnesses from each family, the groom, the madhun, the bride's father, and the bride. Each takes turn to sign the marriage contract. Once the signing is finished, the sheikh addresses the guests, stressing the holiness of the marriage. As soon as the sheikh finishes his speech, the bride's father and the groom make an oath, with their hands clasped and their thumbs pressed together. The father and the groom repeats after the sheikh one of the important forms of marriage, the ijab (offer: I marry you to my daughter) and the qbul (acceptance: I have agreed to marry her). This exchange of vows is followed by the sheikh's recitation of verses from the Qur'an, which are repeated again by the bride's father and the groom, and then by the guests. Then, happy feast begins with guests enjoying various foods. And the bride and the groom take photos to commemorate the day.
The couple chooses either the segregated or mixed style of the katb al-kitab according to the families' preferences. It is also noteworthy that, on the day of the katb al-kitab, the presence of the bride's father is especially important, because of the legal and religious terms on which he signs the marriage contract as a wali (a guardian), and also because his presence honours the bride and the family.
3.1.3. Preparations for the Farah
1. Gender-specific notion
As soon as the couple has completed katb al-kitab, the couple and the families must prepare for the farah (the wedding reception). It is after the farah celebration, that the couple is expected to consummate their marriage and de facto become husband and wife. In this section, the process of preparing for the Farah is elaborated with aspects that changed over time.
The expenses associated with the farah vary according to the quality of venue, the food, and the entertainers such as a disc jockey, a belly dancer, a singer, a comedian, ballet groups, a zaffah group(musicians who play for the wedding procession), and bands. Occasionally, the organization of the party generates heated debates between the families of the bride and groom, since these issues are related to the pride and reputation of the family. Two families may disagree over the way the party is organised, how much the family spends on the farah, especially in terms of the types of entertainment for the guests, the food, and where to hold the farah.
It is interesting to note that a gender-specific notion is observed during the preparation of the farah concerning the degree to which each family is involved in the preparation. While the bride and the bride's family are more concerned with the careful planning of the farah and actively participate in the preparations, the groom and his family are less active in the process. This difference may have resulted from the idea that the wedding day itself is traditionally referred as the day more inportant for the bride. Also, men seem to be less interested in spending the wedding budget on a big wedding reception. Instead, they prefer to spend in a more practical way such as having a honeymoon abroad.
2. Wedding Planners
Customarily, mothers, along with the bride's sisters and female friends who had experience of marriage, helped to plan the farah. Today, however, young men and women discuss their wedding plans with the professional wedding planners employed by hotels and clubs. Exclusive hotels offer a range of services to couples who are getting married. These services include a buffet that can be tailored to different budgets. Apart from catering, hotels also provide various kinds of entertainment services, including a zaffah group, oriental dancers, comedians, a photographer, and a DJ, as well as special equipment for the wedding party such as laser beams and smoke machines to create special effects during the wedding reception. Some hotels supply free gifts to the bride and the groom, including several nights in a luxury suite in the hotel, a khosha (a wreath or flower-decked chair for the groom and the bride), sharbat (a syrupy drink traditionally served at weddings), and floral decorations in the hotel corridors.
Magazines are also useful sources of consultation for a couple planning a memorable wedding. As well as internationally-circulating magazines, nowadays there are English versions of local magazines that sometimes include special features on planning special weddings and honeymoons for a couple. Invariably, many of these emphasize how a couple can organize a glamorous reception. The articles include the addresses and telephone numbers of wedding planners, flower shops, dressmakers, invitation card producers, make-up artists, hairstylists, travel agencies, wedding photographers, and entertainers, as well as ideal step guidelines to help young people to create the wedding of their dream.
Like magazines, wedding websites also provide useful step-by-step guides to help young couples in Cairo to plan the farah. For instance, it is suggested that the couple begin preparations for the wedding at least six and up to 18 months in advance of the wedding. The couple is advised to do shopping for the wedding rings, hosting the engagement party by the bride's family, identifying the possible wedding date, drawing up the preliminary guest list, and formulating a preliminary budget during that time. After the date is established, they are advised to book a venue for the reception, hire the photographer and entertainers for the ceremony, arrange the outfits for the wedding and so on.
Since weddings have become more commercialized as a result of the emergence of the wedding industry, it is also significant to mention that the traditional role of the mother in planning for the wedding appears to have diminished. It can also be seen that weddings have become events that accentuate class differences, since they cleary demonstrate a family's status as well as the identity of individuals. Thus the growth of the wedding industry is fuelled almost entirely by the desire of middle- and upper-class Egyptians preparing for extravagant wedding receptions. The innumerable models provided by cinema and television have also enabled the Egyptian middle- and upper-class to organize weddings in emulation of those who are perceived as better than they are. Generally speaking, therefore, it is evident that, as a result of seeking advice from wedding planners, the Internet, and magazines, there is a strong shift towards a preference for weddings that are global in their style and rituals.
3. Wedding entertainment: zaffah, belly dancers, and DJs
Traditionally, Egyptian weddings were very festive, with entertainers (dancers, singers, and musicians) amusing the guests as well as the families who hosted the occasion for several nights. These days, entertainment at weddings has become commercialized with the emergence of the wedding industry in Cairo, and with the expectations and wishes of the expanding middle- and upper-class who want to meet their westernized and globalized tastes. In modern Cairo, for example, wealthy families hire expensive entertainers for the farah to entertain and impress the guests with their wealth . Types of entertainers include bands, belly dancers, DJs, zaffah groups, and comedians. The zaffah groups are the ones who play music and sing songs for the wedding procession.
Various processions normally take place before the wedding night. These included the zaffah al-hammam (the bride's procession to the bath), the zaffah al-gihaz (procession of the furniture), the zaffah al-arusa (the bridal procession), and the zaffah sadaate (the gentlemen's procession). Generally, the zaffah al-arusa is deemed the most important. This procession involves the physical transfer of the bride to her new residence and an escort of dancers and musicians through the public streets from her parent's home to the home of the groom, where the marriage was consummated.
The role of the zaffah was to proclaim publicly the legal union of the couple and the approval of the families for the marriage by sing loud songs, playing various musical instruments, and dancing. However, under the modernization, the traditional ways of zaffah lost popularity among the upper- and middle-class Egyptians, who considered them to be vulgar and outdated. Instead, a more modern style of zaffah was born at the beginning of the 1980s and quickly became an indispensable part of the receptions. Just as the location of the wedding reception moved from individual houses to exclusive hotels, the zaffah procession also underwent changes. Unlike the separate processions performed for the bride and the groom in the past, today's zaffah commonly proceeds with the bride and the groom together, from the lobby into the ballroom in the hotels in which the farah takes place. Also, the current modern style of zaffah troupes is distinguished by western musical instruments as well as by western lyrics incorporated into existing zaffah songs.
Most zaffah groups consist of six to eight members, who exclusively male. Each zaffah group has different wedding songs, though all the main themes are similar. First, they begin their song by welcoming everyone. Then, they introduce themselves to the guests, praise the bride's beauty, pay respects to the bride's parents, and praise the groom for his goodness and reliability. After a short break, they would continue their singing to ask the couple to respect their respective parents-in-laws and the parents-in-laws to respect the couple. Their performance is finally concluded by offering good wishes to the bride and the groom.
The tradition of belly dancers at festivals can be traced back to the 18th century in Egypt. Egyptians generally chose to bring entertainers, particularly dancers, to the festivals in order to amuse the spectators. At the same time, however, entertainers were regarded with contempt and disfavor. The religious authorities and the Islamic scholars resented this practice, because the dance created an infidel image. During Sadat's infitah policy in the 1970s, there were many changes to belly dancing. The opening to the West, the rise of a new class of wealthy entrepreneurs, and growing prosperity produced flourishing factors and atmospheres for entertainers. In particular, performances by Egyptian belly dancers at hotel weddings became a widespread phenomenon from the 1970s. Today, Egyptian belly dancers along with an influx of foreign belly dancers, especially from Russia and Greece, have become a familiar sight at any Egyptian weddings.
The influx of foreign belly dancers has introduced innovative costumes, instruments, and dance movements that have been incorporated into traditional belly dancing. However, employing a belly dancer at a wedding was, and still is considered particularly sensitive among those who are religious. And for some people, belly dancers are viewed with great apprehension. The image of the pure and virgin bride in the sacred atmosphere of the wedding conflicts with the image of the belly dancer who is perceived as polluting the pure wedding. This is mainly because the sexual identity of the belly dancers symbolizes a lack of honour and respect, and they are even seen to be sexually dangerous.
3.1.4 The Farah
Not only the preparation process, but the way
that the farah is celebrated is also transforming with time. The biggest
change that the location of the wedding reception has transferred from the
bride's house to five star hotels, villas, clubs, riverboats, or European-style
outdoor gardens. A wedding planner, called Ummu Sarah, offers several
explanations for this transformation. He argues that the location of the
wedding has changed for entirely practical reasons, including the lack of space
in a house so as to save time and effort and the lack of help in preparing for
the wedding since so many women participate in the labor force. An additional
reason for shifting the wedding from the house to an outside venue is because
people nowadays regard the size of the ceremony as significant. He summed up
that this transformation might have originated from the competitive, imitative,
and emulative nature of consumerism. Also Hatim, one of my Egyptian friends
"In the past, the farah was very simple. But nowadays, people want to show off and compete with their neighbours and relatives. Television has also influenced people to make the farah as luxurious as possible. For example, there is one programme on Channel Four that shows people how to organize farah. It actually persuades people indirectly to follow the way that they are showing.
To give you a more picture of how the Farah
actually changed, I will describe one of the wedding receptions that I visited
When the couple reached the khosha, the waiters brought a yellow-coloured drink called sharbat to the bride and groom, which I found out was the traditional drink to be served at a wedding. Later, the couple moved onto the dance floor, where they danced in front of the guests to popular songs, such as those by one of the most popular Egyptian singer, Amr Diab. When the couple had finished the first round of dancing, male and female guests soon came down to join them on the dance floor. Encircling the couple, the guests sang and danced. After about two hours when all of the guest were feeling tired, an invited singer started to sing to the background music of a band. Then, it was the turn of a belly dancer. Male guests on the whole seemed to be amused by the seductive movements of the dancer, but it was funny how the groom rarely looked at the dancer lest he should make his bride jealous on their wedding night.
When all the entertainers had finished their performances, a huge wedding entered slowly toward the groom and the bride, engulfed with smoke and highlighted by laser beams to give special effects to the cake-cutting ceremony. It was a spectacular scene. The cake-cutting ritual was followed by the opening of the buffet bar. It was around 1:00 a.m. Another round of dancing followed the dinner, and the farah ended around at two or three o' clock in the morning.
Other wedding receptions held in hotels generally follow this order. A package wedding at a hotel means that professional wedding planners take control of organizing the wedding reception from start to finish. By purchasing a wedding reception package, the couple and the guests will be fitted into the pre-designed programme and will be controlled by the instructions of the technical staff, including a wedding director, a DJ, and a cameraman. Through this, both customers and providers follow the steps of a procedure that has been designed or determined and standardized in order to produce the best and most memorable wedding, even though it serves as the same style of wedding for all other the newly-married couples in Egypt. This change is not only the effect of the commercialization of the wedding industry, but also the globalization.
The style of a wedding seems to have its own fashion trends over time. Sometimes external elements from foreign wedding styles are introduced and localized, thus creating a third new wedding culture. In some cases, traditions are invented or a totally new trend created in order to suit the tastes of today's young couples. For example, as described before, global influences are evident in current weddings held in Cairo, such as the dress of the bride and groom, child bridesmaids who escort the bride and the groom into the hall, the cake-cutting ceremony, and the throwing of a bouquet to unmarried friends. However, the long-standing tradition like employing entertainers such as musicians, dancers, and singers at the wedding still continues along with these changes.
Apart from the introduction of global elements into the conventional concept of a wedding, the current Egyptian wedding style is significantly articulated with a hybridized wedding ritual that is neither foreign nor indigenous. For example, a recent trend is that foreign, especially western belly dancers and modernized zaffah, equipped with a mixture of western and local musical instruments and lyrics, appear at the wedding ceremony. In addition, a totally new tradition of employing a disc jockey has been invented and has become established into the today's wedding culture. Therefore, the distinction between what is the local and the global seems to be blurred in the contemporary wedding style in Cairo, thus leading to a hybridization of indigenous and foreign wedding cultures. As I described from the section where three different impacts of the globalization were explained, the today's cultures are extremely interconnected and intermingled with one another. Through this hybridization of the wedding, the boundaries between local and global wedding is becoming ambiguous.
3.3.5. Overall analysis
I have explored how today's wedding
ceremonies have changed from those of the parents' generation or even as early
as 19th century. Marriage in
During the wedding preparation, the bride and her family are much more actively involved in the wedding preparations than are the groom and his family. While brides prefer to spend a relatively large sum of money on the wedding party, grooms prefer to spend money in more practical ways, such as on a honeymoon abroad. Today, professional wedding planners have gradually replaced the role of the bride's mother, planning the farah in all details.
Wedding reception in Cairo today seem to be an occasion in which such various dimensions as global/local, modern/traditional, western/Islamic, and foreign/authentic aspects are intertwined along with the mixture of the three categorizations of globalization (homogenization, particularization, and hybridization). The process of homogenization explains how Egyptian style of weddings resemble typical wedding rituals elsewhere. However, weddings in Cairo are distinguished from weddings in other parts of the world in the way the wedding party is celebrated with various professional wedding entertainers, including belly dancers, comedians, and DJs, as well as zaffah groups. Thus, homogenized as well particularized elements of wedding are emerging and expanding today in order to suit the tastes of young couples who are influenced by television programmes, films, magazines, and the Internet. In this context, evolving taste as well as expectation among the middle- and upper-class Cairenes caused by the modernization are resulting in the hybrid form of western and global, as well as indigenous and local styles.
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from The Aga Khan Award for Architecture
Seminar "The Expanding Metropolis Coping with the Urban Growth of
Cairo" held in