Current Institutional Affiliation
Assistant Professor, History, University of California / Santa Cruz

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A New Nile: The Geography of Water and the Production of Agricultural Space in Nineteenth and Twentieth-Century Egypt

A New Nile explores the construction of agricultural space in nineteenth and twentieth-century southern Egypt, arguing that Egyptian cultivators experienced state authority through their interactions with the environment. In the 1860s, Khedive Isma`il dramatically expanded the territories of the khedivial estates, the Daira Sanieh. The khedivial state constructed a wide array of infrastructural forms including irrigation canals, railways, and sugar mills to support a new state venture in sugarcane cultivation and processing. Through the management of the Daira Sanieh, this state played an active role in constructing agricultural space and the environment. The construction of the 1902 Aswan dam transformed Egypt’s environment and the production of agriculture as the state relied on new forms of technology to manipulate its environment and determine patterns of labor, land tenure, and capital flow. Following the completion of the dam, the rise of a class of powerful landowners and private businesses, namely the Egyptian Sugar Company, further complicated the geography of authority in Egypt’s south. A New Nile critically considers the interstices at which authority and the environment intersected and shaped the fates of Egypt’s rural populations.