Hierarchy and symbolic construction of the person among rural Egyptians

El Sayed El-Aswad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This research is an ethnographic study that seeks to achieve two objectives. First, it endeavors to demonstrate how the person is hierarchically and symbolically ordered by rural Egyptians in cosmological terms and how hierarchical values are attached to components of the person. Second, it aims to illustrate that the Egyptian holistic view of personhood with its relational and hierarchical implications does not necessarily eliminate the concept of the autonomous individual. Peirce's semiotic theory and Dumont's notion of hierarchy as analytic tools are applied to Egyptian material. The paper presents a departure from the focus on the moral features of the person including honor and modesty to a focus on the holistic view of selfhood in its extension to the hierarchically ordered cosmos.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-445
Number of pages15
Issue number4-6
Publication statusPublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Cosmology
  • Egypt
  • Middle eastern peasantry
  • Muslims' worldviews
  • Personhood
  • Symbolic anthropology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anthropology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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