Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, Sarah Lawrence University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2009
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
History, Princeton University
Envisaging Egypt: Geography and Conceptions of Space in a Desert Nation, 1841-1925

My project investigates the question of how Egypt was constructed and realized as a modern national space. Seeking to challenge the long-standing assumption that the territorial scope of a stable political entity called "Egypt" has always been fixed and known since ancient times, my research concentrates on contested, often transnational or cross-cultural conceptions of space and identity at Egypt's various frontier zones to demonstrate the fraught process by which the bounds of modern Egypt were delineated. I draw from a variety of primary sources - historical maps, geographical journals, diaries, unpublished archival documents, and scientific travel and exploration narratives (among other types) - to offer a unique perspective on the relationship of space and geography to nationhood and, more specifically, to illustrate the much more complicated picture of Egyptian nationalism that emerges when we concentrate on Egypt's fluid desert frontier regions (as opposed to just the national capital). Ultimately, by using the lens of geography to demonstrate the persistence of many different, often competing conceptions of Egyptian territoriality, I seek to re-evaluate Egypt's relationship with the Ottoman state throughout the nineteenth century as well as to reconsider the translation of European scientific practices and ideas into the Egyptian context.