Paul Tchir

  • Fellowship Dates 2018-2018
  • Research Topic The Transformative Power of Modern Sport in Egypt
  • Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
  • Affiliation Pre-doctoral candidate University of California, San Diego


This research focuses on the impact of sport on Egyptian society, culture and politics from 1882 through 1954. Studies in Middle Eastern history have encountered difficulty in explaining how elite ideologies were transformed into mass movements and have, with notable exceptions, been slow to engage new research into the impact of popular culture on the development of society. This has left the scholarly understanding of societal transformation in the 20th-century Middle East incomplete. Through the application of sociological theory to the historical study of Egypt, this study expands this understanding and postulates that sport and its concomitant discourse allow ideas to be presented in a way that, consciously or otherwise, is easier for broad segments of society to internalize. The intellectual class of the period was the highly educated indigenous equivalent of today’s middle class. They were blocked from upward mobility by an occupying power and lacked support from the lower, mostly rural, segment of society that had little attachment to concepts such as nationalism. These intellectuals theorized that an independent Egypt would bring them political influence, and thus, they needed to mobilize a base of popular support. To do this, they had to appeal to an idea of nationalism that would impact the masses while obscuring the reality that an independent Egypt would be most beneficial for the mobility this ‘middle class.’ This comprehensive and rigorous study examines sport’s role in this process and investigates the relationship between sport and societal development. It treats sport discourse as not merely a source that tells a story but one that serves as an active agent of change and examines the degree to which intellectuals were conscious of sport’s potential or simply mimicking the discourse of the colonial power.

TopicsArabic & Islamic & Near and Middle Eastern Studies, History, Popular Culture, SociologyThemePeople & SocietyHistoric PeriodKhedival, Modern


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