Often, when writing the intellectual history of the Middle East, we make assumptions about the influence of ideas from other places on the Middle East itself. We assume what ideas are being adapted in their entirety and not necessarily as challenged and critiqued; this is often influenced by power dynamics themselves the products of historical processes like colonialism and capitalism. Omnia El Shakry challenges this approach to ideas in The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt(Princeton University Press, 2017) by focusing on how Egyptians in the post-World War II period engage with psychoanalysis as part of their intellectual worldview, not as a point of rupture with other intellectual influences on their thought. She looks at Sufism, the way psychoanalysis fits into ongoing conversations on criminology and philosophy, as well as the themes of sex and gender, all threaded through with the notion of the self. The book is not simply a contribution to the history of psychoanalysis, but the histories of Islam, post-war Arabic-intellectual history, and Egypt.
Nadirah Mansour is a graduate student at Princeton University's Department of Near Eastern Studies working on the global intellectual history of the Arabic-language press. She tweets @NAMansour26 and produces another Middle-East and North Africa-related podcast: Reintroducing.