Copts in the National and Religious Discourses: A Narrative of Resistance in Shady Lewis’s Turuq al-Rab


  • Nevine Abraham Carnegie Mellon University Author



Coptic Christians, Arab diaspora, Ethnic Identity, church, minorities


The focus of scholarly studies and literary works on Egyptian Copts as a persecuted or a faith community has diverted attention from seeing them as active agents who challenge hegemonic powers within the complex overlapping of national and religious discourses. As a diasporic Copt, Shady Lewis voices in his 2018 novel Turuq al-Rab (Ways of the Lord) a counter-narrative of resistance, scrutinizing the prevailing conformist culture fraught with control and repression orchestrated primarily by the state and secondarily by the church. This paper examines the ways in which Lewis offers a new paradigm for understanding Coptic identity in light of Egypt’s socio-history that has produced this culture. It argues that the novel’s interlacing of the twofold church-state and Copts-church asymmetries of power informs Coptic contentions of citizenship, belonging, and relation to the church.

Author Biography

  • Nevine Abraham, Carnegie Mellon University

    Nevine Abraham is Assistant Teaching Professor of Arabic Studies in the Department of Modern Languages at Carnegie Mellon University. She teaches French and Arabic languages, literature, and cultures. Her research interests focus on literary and cultural studies in the Middle East and North Africa and examine citizenship, civil rights, Copts, cinema and censorship, and Palestinian studies. She is co-editor of Critical Arts journal. Her scholarly work has appeared in Arab Studies Quarterly, Journal of African Cinema, and Digest of Middle East Studies.


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