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9. Ritual, Politics, and the City in Mamluk Cairo: The Bayna l-Qaṣrayn as a Mamluk ‘lieu de mémoire’, 1250–1382

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Chapter Summary

Just as is true for any other pre-modern polity, rituals of power were a defining feature of the political culture of the Mamluk sultanate of Egypt and Syria. This chapter discusses one particular set of such Mamluk rituals that was performed in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, the investiture of new members of the political elites, reconstructing in particular its spatial and semiotic frameworks as a revelatory mnemonic process connecting Cairo's city centre of the Bayna l-Qaṣrayn with Mamluk ideas of legitimate kingship. As far as Mamluk history and Cairo's Bayna l-Qaṣrayn in particular are concerned, the chapter argues that understanding the full dynamics of its symbolism may similarly be furthered through this central urban site's conceptualization as a lieu de mémoire, a memory site that appealed to the collective history and social memory of Cairo's elites in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.

Keywords: Cairo's Bayna l-Qaṣrayn; lieu de mémoire; Mamluk rituals; political culture



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