The objectives of the research are to provide: a semantic analysis of the sociological concept of 'minority' in both English and Arabic, a historical analysis of the use of the concept in both western and Arab social contexts, an analysis of the specific discourse on Copts and minority in the Egyptian context and the examination of the underlying ideological positions, and to use this particular case to raise questions about comparability and cross-cultural analytical validity of such a concept. The method used in the thesis is a review of literature dedicated to define and analyze the concept of minority in both western, i.e. European and American contexts, and non-western, i.e. the Arab context. Secondly, an analysis of the literature dedicated to the contemporary discourse on the status of Copts in Egyptian society, particularly that raised concerning the inclusion of Copts in the Conference of Minorities in the Arab World held in April 1994. The thesis shows that there are three ideological responses to the question of the status of Copts within Egyptian society. These are the Islamist, the nationalist and the post-nationalist responses which define the contemporary ideological and political status of Copts.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Frank Fanselow

Committee Member 1

Frank Fanselow

Committee Member 2

Donald Cole

Committee Member 3

Nicholas Hopkins

Document Type



vii, 115 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1


Library of Congress Subject Heading 2



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Call Number

Thesis 1997/39



Included in

Anthropology Commons