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Boulos, S (2010). 'A clean heart likes clean clothes': cleanliness customs and conversion in Egypt (1900-1956). Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 21(4):315-330.

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Abstract

The topic of personal hygiene and domestic cleanliness occupied Protestant missionaries working in Egypt during the first half of the twentieth century. Remarks on hygiene can be found not only in writings published for the interested public but also in personal documents such as diaries. This article illustrates that, in missionary sources, descriptions of cleanliness appear mainly in the female sphere, implying a deficient domesticity. The causes of this shortcoming were seen in the crisis of the Egyptian - and in particular the Islamic - family, in which, in the missionaries' perception, the husband ruled despotically over his wife and impeded a healthy family life. Missionaries tried to impart a new female role model - their ideal of a competent housewife and wise mother - and thereby aimed to empower women by teaching them habits of cleanliness. This paper examines the missionaries' methods and arguments for spreading ideas and practices related to hygiene and shows how cleanliness was closely linked to values such as orderliness, discipline and punctuality. It also explores the role of cleanliness in missionary accounts of Egyptian converts and examines how conceptions of personal hygiene and domestic cleanliness were linked to moral and religious purity. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Asian and Oriental Studies
08 University Research Priority Programs > Asia and Europe
DDC:950 History of Asia
180 Ancient, medieval & eastern philosophy
290 Other religions
Language:English
Date:2010
Deposited On:25 Feb 2011 20:37
Last Modified:01 Apr 2014 10:18
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0959-6410
Publisher DOI:10.1080/09596410.2010.529661
Citations:Web of Science®. Times Cited: 1
Google Scholar™
Scopus®. Citation Count: 2

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