State of the Field: Agrarian Transformation, Colonial Rule, and the Politics of Material Wealth in Egypt, 1882-1922


Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowships


History and Middle Eastern Studies


This dissertation is a study of the Egyptian state and of efforts to transform, perfect, and overthrow it in the four decades following the British occupation of 1882. It argues that the political struggles of the colonial era unfolded as a multi-sided debate about the relationship between material wealth and political legitimacy. Though originally aimed at boosting agricultural production, the reform policies that anchored British rule ultimately helped to make Egypt a key site for investment in a moment of global financial expansion at the close of the 19th century. Ultimately, the abstract and uneven character of financial boom and bust played a central role in shaping the concepts with which nationalists advocated independence and influenced their understandings of what a sovereign nation-state would look like.