Malak Hifni Nasif (1886–1918), one of Egypt’s early feminist writ­ers, stood at the crossroads of many political and social tensions of her day. Situated between the potential contradictions of Egyptian nationalism, Islamic reform, and Westernization, Nasif provides an important lens through which to examine the relationship between feminism and colonial enterprise in the tumultuous milieu of the early twentieth century. This paper contends that, in order to understand Nasif’s construction of her own feminist agenda, one must first examine the pervasive presence of the “colonial” as a distinct site of inquiry—one that must be extracted from the larger and more ambiguous category of “European.” By teasing out the difference between European versus colonial interactions with feminism, we get a clearer view of the process by which Nasif was able to negotiate an indigenous feminist agenda within and against the power structures of both Egyptian society and colonial rule.

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