In the late 1970s, in order to collect data for his Ph.D. thesis, Berkeley student Richard Adams decides to combine his years of studying Arabic with his interest in rural poverty by going to live in a village in Upper Egypt, south of Cairo. In this village Adams makes his home among the Egyptian fellahin, the ancient tillers of the land in Egypt. Poor but proud, suspicious but not quite closed to outsiders, these peasant farmers attract and fascinate him more than any other group of people.
As the first foreigner to live in the village, Adams must first find a suitable place to live. Then he needs to gain the trust and goodwill needed to gain access to the peasant farmers who cultivate their fields using many of the same tools as their ancestors did in the time of pharaohs 3,500 years ago.
In this accessible and engaging book, Adams documents his experiences of living with poor peasants, rich peasants and local government bureaucrats in Upper Egypt. With keen insight and much affection for his village friends, Adams describes the trials – and triumphs – of winning the trust of these people by overcoming cultural and religious divides.
Written for academics, globetrotters or anyone interested in village life or the modern Middle East, An American in Rural Egypt will open readers’ eyes and enlarge their understanding of the world.