“Vulgar Cosmopolitanism” is a portrait of Alexandria’s urban society at the turn of the twentieth century. The chapter juxtaposes views of the city along two rival main streets: elite Rue de Rosette and popular Rue des Soeurs. It explores vernacular geographies of the city, and the categories that a largely illiterate population of newcomers developed to describe and navigate a complex social and legal landscape. It proposes the idea of vulgar cosmopolitanism—common, colloquial, unromantic—to describe the way that ordinary people got along in Alexandria.
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