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The nineteenth century in Egypt was a period of rapid social and economic change, brought about by the country's developing ties with the European economy. Focusing on lower-class women, this study traces changes in the work role and family life of peasant women in the countryside and craftswomen and traders in Cairo, and explores the world of the slave woman. The effects of capitalist transformation on women are studied in detail, using material from the Islamic court records. The effects of the Egyptian process of state formation and colonial rule are discussed: the growth of the state apparatus, its social services and repressive means, brought new kinds of intervention into women's lives. The book provides a unique account of the very active economic, social and political roles of nineteenth-century women, from the peasant and street pedlar to the slave of the harem.