Culture and Traditions
The SRC was engaged in a pioneering ethnographic survey of Nubian villages, their livelihood, custom and architecture. It documented a unique moment prior to the Nubian move to a new location after the construction of the Aswan High Dam. The Dam provided a more dependable supply of irrigation water to Egypt, and the government supported projects to extend cultivation and settlement beyond the densely settled Nile valley and delta. SRC studies also explored the process of this settlement, and how migrants adapted to their new surroundings.
The two Nubian projects, were financed by the Ford Foundation,
and were a major activity of SRC in the 1960s.
Survey of Egyptian Nubia (first phase: 1961-1963) studied the livelihood, customs
and other aspects of the distinctive and creative Nubian culture,
before the people moved to a new location. There are three distinct
linguistic areas of Egyptian Nubia: in the Kenuzi speaking area in
the north, in the central Arabic speaking area, and in the Mahasi
area in the south. Settlements in each of these areas were studied.
As over half of the people who called themselves Nubians worked
outside Nubia, researchers also studied Nubian families who had
migrated to work in Cairo and Alexandria. Some Nubians had moved
voluntarily to the area around Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, after their
lands in Nubia had been flooded in 1933. In one of these villages,
known by the pseudonym Kenaba, researchers explored changes that had
occurred in the community in the thirty years since the villagers
had left Nubia.
Reviving the Nubian Projects............... Most Recent
Name(s) of researchers:
Researchers involved in the Nubian project:
John Callender (SRC and Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland), anthropology, the Dahmit community study, Old Nubia
Abdel Fatah Eid, (seconded to the project from the Ministry of Culture and National Guidance), photographer.
Safi Edin Abul Ezz (Cairo University), geography, ecological survey of Egyptian Nubia
Robert Fernea (SRC), anthropology, Balana study, Old Nubia
Peter Geiser (SRC and University of Southern California), anthropology, Nubians in Cairo
Ferdinand Hinzen, architect, survey of villages [hospitalized, no output identified]
Alan Horton (AUC faculty), sociology, socio-economic organization of migrant Nubians from Ballana.
John G. Kennedy (SRC and UCLA/ University of NY at Buffalo), social psychiatry, study of a Nubian community, Kanuba, voluntarily resettled near Kom Ombo since 1933.
Nicholas Millet (AUC faculty), Nubian languages.
Assaad Nadim (SRC), Malki study, in Arabic speaking area of Old Nubia.
Mohamad Riad (Ain Shams University), the Ababda economy in Old Nubia.
Kawthar Abdel Rassoul (Islamic Faculty for Girls, Al Azhar University),
Sayidis in Egyptian Nubia.
Aleya Roushdy, Nubian languages.
Thayer Scudder, (SRC, September 1961 - September 1962, and CalTech), anthropology, ecological studies.
Ahmed Abu Zeid, anthropology, communities in New Nubia [no output identified]
MA students from AUC: Hussein Fahim; Samiha El Katsha; Nawal El Messiri Nadim; Najwa Shukairy; Nadia Haggag Youssef; Abdel Hamid El-Zein.
Other researchers included: Mohamad Fikry Abdul Wahab, Omar Abdul Hamid, Fadwa El Guindi, Bahiga Heikal and Sohair Mehanna.
The Ethnographic Survey of Egyptian Nubia (1961-1963) was a pioneering study of the Nubian villages in terms of their livelihood, customs and other aspects of their distinctive and creative culture, before their move to a new location. Village studies took place in the three distinct linguistic areas of Egyptian Nubia: in the Kenuzi speaking area in the north, in the central Arabic speaking area, and in the Mahasi area in the south. A demographic study of the whole area, from Aswan to Wadi Halfa, on the Sudanese border, was planned. Nubian families who had migrated to work in Cairo and Alexandria were also studied. One component of the study focused on a Nubian community, known by the pseudonym Kanuba, which had been established near Kom Ombo after their lands in Nubia had been flooded in 1933-1934. Nubian languages were also studied.
Abdul Fattah Eid, an Egyptian professional photographer seconded to the project from the Ministry of Culture and National Guidance compiled a unique pictorial record of the last days of Old Nubia. The well-known Egyptian architect, Hassan Fathy, employed by the High Council of Housing Research drawing house facades and plans and taking photographs; Nubian work is included in the Hassan Fathy archives, in the AUC Rare Books and Special Collections Library. He participated in activities with the SRC team and contributed to the 1964 symposium.
A Symposium on Contemporary Egyptian Nubia was held in Aswan, in January1964, to present the major early findings of the Ethnographic Survey.
The second phase of the Nubian project, 1963-1970, built on the knowledge acquired during the first project. It focused on the process of settlement and the adjustment of the Nubians after their resettlement in Kom Ombo, north of Aswan, where the Egyptian government provided houses, utilities and irrigated land for the cultivation of sugar cane, a cash crop useful for national development. It also provided opportunities for researchers to write up their work, and to undertake further professional training.
Throughout the duration of these projects, SRC researchers worked closely with Egyptian government agencies, and established a dialogue that had an impact on accommodating some appropriate cultural features in the settlement plans.
The Research and Conference Program of AUC provided funds for Hussein Fahim to make a one month visit, in summer 1969, to Sudan. He studied Nubians resettled in Sudan, on land irrigated by the new Khashm el-Girba dam (completed in 1963), approximately 600 km south east of their original homes. Hussein Fahim also continued to study the New Nubian area of Kom Ombo, 1971-1975, as part of a wider study of newly resettled communities. [hyperlink # 1971/ ]
An exhibition of the photographs by Abdul Fatta Eid, taken in Nubia in 1962-64, formed part of the exhibition, “Nubia before the flood”, held at the American University in Cairo in February – March 2005.
Documents relating to the project
Hussein Fahim, Bahiga Heikal & Sandra Hale. (1971). Source material on Nubian society and culture: A preliminary compiled biography
Final report on Nubian project: Supplementary Grant. (April 1968). [University Archives, Dean of Faculties Crabbs. SRC. Nubian Project. 1967-71, which also contains other papers.]
Fernea, Robert. (No d.). Nubian Ethnological Survey. Report 1965-1966.
Robert Fernea. (1963-64). Report on Symposium on Contemporary Nubia.
Fernea, Robert. (June 1962).Cross-cultural resettlement administration: An exploration of some potential problems of Nubian resettlement.
Fernea, Robert A. (May 1962).The use of pilot communities as an approach to Nubian resettlement. Social Research Center.
Nadim, Azaad. (1962). Akekat tribe in Egyptian Nubia: a preliminary report on Malki Omodeja. Social Research Center. [in Arabic – missing]
Research Proposal: Community Study in Mahas Speaking Region (in Ismailia, omadiiya of Ballana). (N. d. - early 1962?). Social Research Center.
Ethnological Survey of Nubia: General progress report. (December 16, 1961). Social Research Center.
Ethnological Survey of Nubia: Statement of purpose and organization. (May 1961). Social Research Center.
Fernea, Robert. (1961). Preliminary report on Nubia. Social Research Center.
See also: The Nubian Ethnological Survey in Report on Current Research,1965-66. Social Research Center, American University in Cairo. [University Archives. SRC Records in the University Publications and Ephemera Collection.]
Bound typed research reports. Samiha el Katsha. 5 vols.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1973). Social Science Research in Relation to the Khashm El Girba Scheme in the Sudan. Seminar Series of the Institute of African and Asian Studies. University of Khartoum.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1971). Nubian resettlement in the Sudan. Draft. Social Research Center.
Fernea, Robert A. (ed.) 1966 Contemporary Egyptian Nubia. Papers presented at an SRC Symposium, held in Aswan, January 27-29, 1964. HRAFLEX BOOK MR8-001. 2 vols. Human Relation Area Files New Haven CT. [SRC, AUC]
Vol I Contents
Robert Fernea; Introduction.
Bruce Trigger (McGill University), New light on the history of settlement in Lower Nubia.
Nicholas Millet (American Research Center in Egypt, Cairo), Some notes on the linguistic background of modern Nubian.
Hassan Fathi (High Council of Housing Research, UAR), Notes on Nubian architecture.
Clyde Mitchell (University of Manchester, UK), Some theoretical approaches to the sociological interpretation of labour circulation.
Thayer Scudder (California Institute of Technology), The economic basis of Egyptian Nubian Labour Migration.
Peter Geiser (SRC and Hayward College); Some impressions concerning the nature and extent of stabilization and urbanization in Nubian Society.
Najwa Shukairy (SRC, A study of obligations on death occasions among Cairo migrants from a southern Nubian village.
Charles Callender (Case Western Reserve University and SRC); The Mehennab: a Kenuz tribe.
Nawal el Messiri Nadim (SRC); The Sheikh cult in Dahmit life.
Fadwa El Guindi (SRC); Ritual and the River in Dahmit.
Robert Fernea (SRC); Integrating factors in a non-corporate community.
Bahiga Haikal (SRC); Residence patterns in Ismailia, Balana.
Abdel Hamid el Zein (SRC); Socio-economic implications of the water-wheel in Adendan, Nubia.
Mohamad Riad (Ain Shams University); Patterns of Ababda economy in Egyptian Nubia.
Kawthar Abdel Rassoul (Islamic Faculty for Girls, Al AzharUniversity, Cairo); Economic activities of the Sayidis in Egyptian Nubia.
John G Kennedy (University of NY at Buffalo, SRC); Occupational adjustment in a previously resettled Nubian village.
Nawal el Messiri Nadim. (1965). The Sheikh cult in Dahmit. M.A. thesis. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, American University in Cairo.
Fahim, Hussein Muhamed. (1966). Change in rituals in Kanuba Salat al-Gum’a. M.A. thesis. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, American University in Cairo.
Fahim, Hussein. (1968). The Resettlement of Egyptian Nubians: a case study in developmental change. Ph.D. dissertation. Department of Anthropology, University of California: Berkeley. [missing from AUC library ]
El Katsha, Samiha. (1969). The impact of environmental change on the marriage institution: The case of the Kanuba settlers. M. A. thesis. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, American University in Cairo.
Shukairy, Najwa Ahamad. (1963). A study of obligations on death occasions among a Nubian group from Besharan Adendan living in Cairo. M. A. thesis. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, American University in Cairo.
Abdel Hamid El-Zein. (1966). Water and land in a Nubian Village: A case study in Adendan. M.A. thesis. Department of Sociology, Anthropology, Psychology and Egyptology, American University in Cairo. [also SRC]
Publications relating to the research
Callender, Charles & Fadwa el Guindi. (1971). Life crisis rituals among the Kenuz. Case Western University Studies in Anthropology, Number 3. Cleveland: Case Western University Press. [SRC, AUC]
Fahim, Hussein M. (1972). Nubian Resettlement in the Sudan. Field Research Projects (ed Henry Field): Coconut Grove, Florida. SRC reprint # 13.
Fernea, Robert A. & Rouchdy, Aleya. (1987). Contemporary Egyptian Nubians. In Hägg, Tomas (editor), Nubian culture past and present: Papers presented at the Sixth International Conference for Nubian Studies in Uppsala, 11-16 August 1986 (pp. 365-387). Almquist & Wiksell International: Stockholm, Sweden. [missing AUC; copy of article in archive.]
Fernea, Robert, (1973). Nubians in Egypt: A peaceful people. Austin: University of Texas Press. [SRC, AUC]
Fernea, Robert A. and John G. Kennedy. (1966). Initial adaptations to resettlement: a new life for Egyptian Nubians. Current Anthropology, 7(3), 349-354. SRC reprint # 15
Fernea, Robert A. (1964). The Ethnological Survey of Egyptian Nubia: A progress report. Current Anthropology, 4 (1), 122-3. Comment, (1967), by J. A. Valsik, Robert Fernea and John Kennedy, Current Anthropology, 8 (3), 251.
Geiser, Peter. (1967). Some differential factors affecting population movement: the Nubian case. Human Organization, 26 (3) : 164-177. SRC reprint # 2.
Geiser, Peter. (1980). Cairo’s Nubian Families. Cairo Papers in Social Science, vol. 4, monograph 1. Cairo: American University Press. [AUC, SRC and archive]
Geiser, Peter. (1986). The Egyptian Nubian: a Study in Social Symbiosis. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. [SRC, AUC and archive]
Horton, Allan W. (No d). The Egyptian Nubians. American Universities Field Staff Reports Service, North East Africa Series, 11 (2) (Egypt). [missing]
Kennedy, John & Fahim, Hussein. (1974). Nubian dhikr rituals and cultural change. Muslim World, 64 (3), 205-219.
Kennedy, John. (1970). Aman Dogar: Nubian monster of the Nile. Journal of American Folklore, 83, number 330, 438-445.
Kennedy, John G. (1970). Circumcision and excision in Egyptian Nubia. Man, 5 (2), 175-191. SRC reprint series # 11.
Kennedy, John (1967). Nubian Zar ceremonies as psychotherapy. Human Organization, 26 (4), 185-194. SRC reprint # 7.
Kennedy, John. (1967). Mushahara: a Nubian concept of supernatural danger and the theory of taboo. American Anthropologist, 69 (6), 685-702. SRC reprint # 8.
Kennedy, J. G., with the assistance of Hussein Fahim. 1977. Struggle for Change in a Nubian Community: an Individual in Society and History. Palo Alto CA.: Mayfield Publishing. [SRC, AUC]
Kennedy, John (ed.) 1978. Nubian Ceremonial Life: Studies in Islamic Syncretism and Cultural Change. Berkeley: University of California Press. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. [SRC, AUC and archive copy]
Ch. 1. Nubia: history
background. John Kennedy
Elizabeth Warnock Fernea, Robert A. Fernea with Aleya Rouchdy. (1991). Nubian Ethnographies. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press Inc.. With photographs by Abdul Fattah Eid. [AUC, SRC and archive copy]
Part I: A view of the
Nile. Elizabeth Warnock
A Study of Newly
Settled Communities: The
Abis area in the
Northwestern Nile Delta,
and Kom Ombo, Upper
Project number: SRC # 1971-2
Type of project: research
Donor: Grant Number; Grant amount
Division of International Activities, Office of Research Demonstrations and Training, Social and Rehabilitation Service. Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Washington, D. C.:
Grant Number 19-P-58018-F-01;
Grant amount: $106,000
Name(s) of researchers:
Name: Hussein Fahim
Two major areas
were identified for
In the first area, resettlement was largely voluntary, while in New Nubia, the resettlement was compulsory, with special characteristics and problems. Despite the planners’ concern to enable Nubians to maintain both their self-identity and self-sufficiency, the relocation caused considerable stress for members of the New Nubian communities. The study of the Kom Ombo area, beginning in 1971, seven years after the first resettlement in 1964, was a logical continuation of the earlier SRC Ethnographic Survey of Nubia, 1961-1970. [hyperlink]
Dr Hussein Fahim, SRC Research Associate, received an award from the Middle East Social Science Research Awards Program for post-doctoral work at Caltech, to analyze and write up data on Nubian resettlement around Kom Ombo.
relating to the project
Interim progress report: Study and evaluation of the rehabilitation process in the newly settled communities in the land reclamation areas: September 1, 1972 – August 31, 1973. (1973). Social Research Center. [University Archives, Dean of Faculties Crabbs. SRC Administrative Committee 1973.]
[See also: University Archives, Dean of Faculties Crabbs. SRC Projects: Rehabilitation Process. 1971-72, 1971-73, for agreements etc.]
Fahim, Hussein M. (December 1975). The study and evaluation of the rehabilitation process in the newly settled communities in land reclamation areas: Final report, Part 2. The Nubian settlement in Kom Ombo Region, Upper Egypt. Social Research Center. [SRC NU]
Fahim, Hussein M. (N. d. 1974/5). A survey study of the newly settled Nubian villages in Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt. Report submitted to Egyptian General Organization for Land, Cultivation and Development. Social Research Center. [English copy missing]
Fahim, Hussein M. (1974). The study and evaluation of the rehabilitation process in the newly settled communities in land reclamation areas. Social Research Center. [University archives, Lamont files]
Fahim, Hussein M. (July 1964). Research in New Nubia: A review report. Social Research Center.
فهيم، حسين محمد. (1972). العون الغذائي بمنطقة النوبة الجديدة. مركز البحوث الاجتماعية.
Fahim, Hussein Mohamed. (1972). Food aid in New Nubian region. SRC.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1972). Nubian settlers and government administrators: A preliminary analysis of a cross cultural setting. Draft of paper for Seminar on Development Administration in Egypt, AUC, 8-9 July 1972.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1972). Old and New Nubia: A comparative survey study. A report submitted to EOLCD. [missing]
فهيم، حسين محمد و عبد الحميد، عمر. (1972). المزرعة التعاونية بدار السلام النوبية: دراسة اجتماعية فى التنمية الزراعية. مركز البحوث الاجتماعية
Fahim, Hussein Mohamed & Abdel Hamid, Omar. (1972). The cooperative farm in Dar El Salaam, New Nubia: A sociological study in agricultural development. Prepared for the International Center for Human Settlement and Development, Alexamdria, Egypt. [English copy missing]
Fahim, Husssein. (N. d. 1971/2?). Report to Egyptian Organization for Land Cultivation and Development (EOLCD). Social Research Center.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1971). The evaluative research of the Egyptian scheme of Nubian resettlement. Paper presented at 30th annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology, University of Miami, Florida, in April 1971. Also later revision.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1971). Egyptian Nubia after resettlement: a report on current research. Social Research Center.
Fahim, Hussein M. (N. d. 1971/2?). Formation and development of the resettled community in Egypt: a preliminary report of an evaluative research. Social Research Center.
Fahim, Hussein M. (March 1970). Notes on the Egyptian scheme of Nubian settlement on the newly reclaimed land, Kom Ombo, Upper Egypt. Confidential Report for the Egyptian Authority for the Utilization and Development of Reclaimed Lands.
الزيات، كمال عبد الحميد. (1974). معنى العمل الاجتماعى فى مجتمع النوبة الجديدة. مركز البحوث الاجتماعية.
El Zayat, Kamal Abdel Hameid. (1974). The meaning of Social Labour in New Nubian Society. SRC. [SRC NO 13]
Helmi, Tadros. (1977). Population characteristics of the resettled families in the newly reclaimed areas of the Northwestern Nile Delta. Social Research Center.
Tadros, Helmi. (1975). The study and evaluation of the rehabilitation process in the newly settled communities in land reclamation areas: Final Report, Part 1. The Newly Settled Communities in the Northwestern Nile Delta. SRC. December 1975. Social Research Center. [SRC U 091]
Helmi, Tadros. (1975). Final report and research brief on the study of the rehabilitation process in the settled communities of the Northwestern Nile Delta. Social Research Center.
Tadros, Helmi R. (May 1973). A study of the rehabilitation process in the newly settled communities in the North Western Delta. Presented to the Department of Community Development, the Egyptian General Organization for Land Cultivation and Development. Bound, typescript. SRC library U 064 [Copy in Arabic in University Archives, Dean of Faculties Crabbs, SRC, Projects: A study of the rehabilitation process.. 1971-73.]
Publications resulting from the work:
Fahim, Hussein M. (1983). Egyptian Nubians: Resettlement and years of coping. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press. [SRC, AUC ]
Fahim, Hussein M. (1981). Dams, people and development: the Aswan High Dam case. New York: Pergamon Press. [SRC, AUC]
Fahim, Hussein M. (1979). Field research in a Nubian village: the experience of an Egyptian anthropologist. In George Foster, E. Colson, T. Scudder and R. Van Kemper, (Eds.), Long-term field research in social anthropology (pp. 255-272). New York: Academic Press.
فهيم، حسين محمد. (1975). دراسة لبعض جوانب الحياة النوبية قبل وبعد التوطين الجديدة فى منطقاستصلاح الأراضي بكوم أمبو. مؤسسة دار التعاون للطبع والنشر.
Fahim, Hussein Mohamed. (1975). A study of some aspects of Nubian life before and after the resettlement in the reclaimed land of Kom Ombo. House of Cooperation for Publication and Press.
Fahim, Hussein M. (1974) The new Nubian settlement in Egypt: a descriptive report. Field Research Projects, (Henry Field, ed.) Coconut Grove, FLA. [SRC, AUC]
Fahim, Hussein M. (1973). Nubian settlers and government administrators. National Review of Social Sciences, 10 (2), 43-53. [In Arabic - missing]
Fahim, Hussein. (1973). Egyptian Nubia after resettlement. Current Anthropology, 14 (4), 483-485. [missing]
Fahim, Hussein. (1973) Change in religion in a resettled Nubian community, Upper Egypt. International Journal of Middle East Studies, 4, 163-177. In Nicholas Hopkins & Saad Eddin Ibrahim (Eds), Arab society in transition. [AUC] Cairo: American University in Cairo Press. SRC reprint # 20.
Fahim, Hussein. (1972). The ethnological survey of Egyptian Nubia.: Retrospect and prospect. Bulletin of the International Committee on Urgent Anthropological and Ethnological Research (Vienna), 14, 65-75. [ missing]
Fahim, Hussein. (1971). The study of the New Nubian community in Upper Egypt (in Arabic) National Review of Social Sciences, 8 (2), 97-106. [missing]
Tadros, Helmi R. (1976). Rural settlement in Egypt’s reclaimed lands: An evaluation of a case study in the Northwestern Nile Delta. Cairo Papers in Social Science, 1 (4). Cairo: American University Press. [SRC, AUC]
Tadros, Helmi R. (1976). Problems involved in the human aspects of rural resettlement schems in Egypt. In Amos Rapoport (Ed.), World anthropology: The mutual interaction of people and their built environment (pp. 453-482). The Hague: Mouton. SRC reprint # 23.
Tadros, Helmi. (1977). Problems of integrating land settlement schemes into regional and national objectives: The Egyptian experience. In Akin L. Mabogunje & Adetoye Faniran (Eds), Regional planning and national development in tropical Africa, (pp. 121-148). Ibadan, Nigeria: Ibadan University Press. [missing]
Tadros, Helmi. (1979). The human aspects of rural resettlement schemes in Egypt. In Bernardo Berdichewsky (Ed.), Anthropology and social change in rural areas (pp. 121-148). The Hague: Mouton. [missing]