- Fellowship Dates 2014-2014
- Research Topic Crime and Punishment: A History of the Modern Egyptian Legal System, 1919-39
- Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
- Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of California, Los Angeles
After the discovery of the Raya and Sakina murders in 1920, many Egyptians were convinced that Egypt was in the midst of a moral crisis precipitated by its colonial subjugation. The growing concern over the breakdown of the traditional moral order was further fueled by the development of a popular press that sensationalized violence and a dramatic increase in the rate of crime after the Revolution of 1919. With the spread of popular nationalism in the 1920s, many Egyptians blamed the British occupation for Egypt’s state of moral degeneration and emphasized the need for legal reform to reduce imperialist influence and deter crime. This research analyzes the role that nationalism played in the development of the legal system in the 1920s and 30s through the reforms initiated by nationalist elites and the legal practices of native Egyptians. During Egypt’s period of conditional independence, Egyptian nationalist elites – many of whom were lawyers and judges – believed that legal reform was an important part of the struggle for full national autonomy. Existing literature investigates the role that nationalism played in shaping modern Egyptian institutions, particularly popular nationalism during the interwar period, which shaped state-building, economic planning, family life, and culture. This study emphasizes developments in the field of criminal law and the criminal justice system and focuses on criminal court records to further our understanding of the way in which law was practiced in modern Egypt. It highlights the ways the popular press in the 1920s affected the adjudication of criminal cases and the role that nationalist concerns played in the criminal justice system.