Associate Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies , History
D.Phil. 1993, Oxford University.
Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies 50 Washington Square South New York, NY 10012
Areas of Research/Interest:
Social history of the modern Middle East (emphasis on law and medicine); gender studies
Middle East Studies Association, Egyptian Historical Association, American Historical Association.
I have been interested in discourses and practices centered around the human body which were an integral part of modernity as experienced by Middle Eastern societies in the 19th and 20th centuries. At the heart of my project is a fundamental question: to whom does the body belong? Is it the "person inhabiting it or the modern state that lays a fundamentally new claim on it? Does it belong to the community in which it lives and which honors and protects it after death? Or to God who, according to classical Islamic thought, entrusted it to "man" to fulfill His wish in this world? My previous research reflected on this question by studying the regime of Mehmed Ali in Egypt in the first half of the 19th century which was squarely based on a brutal system of mass conscription whereby the modern state lay its hands on the bodies of its male citizens. My current research on 19th century Cairo (and to a lesser extent, the "Cosmopolitan" Alexandria) expands on this theme by studying the newly reconstituted domains of law and medicine and by exploring how members of the Egyptian popular classes reacted to the unprecedented encroachment of their daily lives which these new state institutions and practices entailed. My extensive experience in the Egyptian National Archives has enabled me to gather a significant amount of hitherto unconsulted material which has helped me to engage with the exciting new scholarship within Middle Eastern studies on nationalism and state building, social history and gender studies, as well as medical and legal history.
Fulbright Scholar-in-Residence (1993-94); Malcolm Kerr Awards of the Middle East Studies Association for best humanities dissertation: honorable mention (1993); Faculty Fellow in the Project on Cities and Urban Knowledges, International Center for Advanced Studies, New York University (2000-2001).
• Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt (Oxford: Oneworld Publications, 2009).
• All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali Pasha, His Army and the Founding of Modern Egypt (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.) An Arabic translation appeared in 2001 (Cairo: Dar al-Shorouk) and a Turkish one in 2010 (Istanbul: Bilgi University Press).
• The Body and Modernity: Essays in the History of Medicine and Law in Modern Egypt (Cairo: Dar al-Kutub, 2004). (In Arabic).
• “Modernizing Cairo: A revisionist account,” in Making Cairo Medieval, eds. Nezar AlSayyad, Irene A. Bierman, and Nasser Rabbat, (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2005).
• “Bare life,” in Akhbar al-Adab, issue no. 718, 17 April 2007 (in Arabic).
• “The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza: Sharon’s plan and Palestinian options”, al-Busla, issue no. 2, 2005. (in Arabic)
• “An olfactory tale of two cities: Cairo in the nineteenth century” in Historians in Cairo: Essays in Honor of George Scanlon, ed. Jill Edwards (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2002).
• “Justice, law and pain in Khedival Egypt,” in Standing Trial: Law and the Person in the Modern Middle East, ed. Baudouin Dupret (London: I.B. Tauris, 2004).
• “Prostitution in nineteenth-century Egypt,” in Outside In: On the Margins of the Modern Middle East, ed. Eugene Rogan (London: I.B. Tauris, 2002).
• “For Cavafy, with love and squalor: Some critical notes on the history and historiography of modern Alexandria,” in Alexandria, Real and Imagined, ed. Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk (London: Ashgate, 2004).
• “The anatomy of Justice: Forensic medicine and criminal law in nineteenth-century Egypt,” Islamic Law and Society, 6 (1999).
• “Women, medicine and power in nineteenth-century Egypt,” in Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East, ed. Lila Abu-Lughod (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998).