- Fellowship Dates 2014-2014
- Research Topic Gangsters, Law and State in the Making of Modern Egypt, 1882-1952
- Fellow or Grant Type Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs
- Affiliation Post-doctoral candidate Concordia University
The modernization projects of Mehmed Ali in the first half of the 19th century laid the basis for a new kind of state and a new kind of politics and political subjectivity in Egypt. The incorporation of Egypt into the world economy and a new order of imperial politics, a process begun in the 18th century, accelerated during this period and eventually resulted in highly uneven sets of relations among different classes, communities and states. In 1882, Britain occupied Egypt in the name of protecting minority and foreign communities. Arising from these developments was a self-conscious nationalist movement led by an educated class of Egyptians who were often members of the new professions. These men of the effendiyya, self-styled reformers and modernists, made claims on the state in the name of an Egyptian nation, thereby launching a representational politics that contested the claims made on it by the Mehmed Ali dynasty and the British. This representational politics existed not in formal spheres as well as newspapers, magazines, literature, theater, sporting clubs, youth associations, etc. In the late 1920s and into the 1930s, the figure of the futuwwa and the baltagi lit up headlines, helping to sell newspapers and magazines. This research revisits classical texts written on the ideal of al-futuwwa (bands of men) and ties them to notions of rule and sovereignty and intersects with recent investigations into roots of violence in the contemporary world. This research develops a genealogy of al-futuwwa to track its modern transmutation in the face of colonial conditions predicated on a rule of law; and captures the changing terms of sovereignty in relation to violence characterized as criminal behavior and distinguishes a traditional form of life that was vested with power from the latter.