Symbolism and Folk Imagery in Early Egyptian Political Caricatures


The Wafd Election Campaign, 1920-1923

Art is politics and politics is art in this study of post-World War I caricature art in Egypt and Egyptian politics. This book explores the complex meaning and significance of caricature art drawn to support the ascendant Egyptian Wafdpolitical party and its push for independence from British colonial control. The works of previously neglected Egyptian lithographers are also explored, especially those who adopted sophisticated European techniques while experimenting with a variety of new styles during a remarkable period in Egyptian history.

Caricature art by Wafd party artists was almostsui generis. It is distinguished especially by its sincere use of iconic, folkloric imagery, intended to rally nationalistic sentiments among an emerging Egyptian electorate that included many nonliterate citizens. Cannon’s research breathes new life into an influential yet largely forgotten artistic movement in Egypt, one that deserves recognition for its contribution to Egypt’s share of modern Middle East cultural history. Includes full color reproductions.

Byron D. Cannon is a professor of history emeritus at the University of Utah. He is the author of Politics of Law and the Courts in 19th-Century Egypt (U of U Press, 1988) and editor of Terroirs et Sociétés au Maghreb et au Moyen Orient (University of Lyon II, IRMAC, 1987).

Praise and Reviews:
“This impressive work successfully combines two genres. It serves as a catalogue of hitherto largely unknown graphic images of great historical value, and it offers an analytical history based on those images that enriches our understanding of the politics, culture, and society of early twentieth-century Egypt. In addition to the author’s many insights, the publication in color of so many original posters and cartoons serves as a valuable primary source for future interpretations by others.”
-Donald M. Reid, author of Contesting Antiquity in Egypt: Archaeologies, Museums, and the Struggle for Identities from World War I to Nasser


“A well-done introduction into the field of graphic imagery in late nineteenth- and twentieth-century Egypt, combined with a summarizing introduction to the history of the country. The approach to lithography and its importance to the spread of caricature and political propaganda is excellent.”
-Eliane Ursula Ettmüller, Centre for Transcultural Studies, Heidelberg University