I am a historian of science, medicine, and race in the Modern Middle East, specializing in nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Egypt. My research and teaching interests lie at the intersections of critical race studies, gender and sexuality studies, decolonial materiality, and histories of science, technology, medicine, and the occult in the non-West. I am invested in illuminating the occult(ed) networks, economies, and actors whose knowledge, bodies, and labor are generally rendered invisible in Eurocentric histories of global science. My research on amuletic objects, occult texts, and material histories of the body in the late Ottoman world encouraged my exploration into the promise of critical bibliographic methods for writing and teaching the social history of the Middle East. I am currently working to merge these interests as a Junior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography at the University of Virginia’s Rare Book School.
I received my Ph.D. in History from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. I graduated from the American University in Cairo with a dual BA in Honors Political Science and Sociology. I was previously an Academy Scholar at The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies (2021-2023) and a UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Santa Barbara (2020). My research has been funded by Ford Foundation Predoctoral and Dissertation Fellowships, the Social Science Research Council, and the Council for American Overseas Research Centers. I was also fellow-in residence at the Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine in Philadelphia, PA.
I am currently working on two book projects. The first book project, Amulet Tales: Race, Magic, and Medicine in Egypt reconstructs the role that wise women, especially Upper Egyptian and African female healers, played in the global development of anthropological expertise and the robust spiritual economy of healing in late Ottoman Egypt. The project combines Middle East history’s rich foundation of gender/women’s and social history, with insights from science and technology studies, critical race and post-colonial studies, and budding scholarship on the Islamicate occult sciences to consider how racialized constructions of these “superstitious women”—along with the socio-medical, spiritual, and economic worlds they inhabited—shaped the making of modern Egypt. Utilizing a material archive of wise women’s amulets and talismans, Amulet Tales recasts histories of magic, medicine, markets, and museums through the ideas and practices of wise women to argue that the development of anthropological thought in Egypt and abroad hinged on the study of “superstitious” healing practices (khorafa) or “old wives medicine” (tibb al-rukka) attributed to Upper Egyptian and formerly enslaved African healing practitioners.
The second book project, Living Fossils, interrogates how Egyptian and European agricultural scientists, race scientists, doctors, and entomologists theorized the body of the Egyptian fellah as an entity that metaphorically and materially straddled the boundaries between “environment” and “technology” in Egypt during the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Mythologized as ancient technologies born from the mud of the Nile itself, the laboring bodies of the Egyptian fellahin (peasantry) were central to the making of modern Egypt. The project draws from critical race theory and histories of environment and technology to explore how the racialized bodies and bodily labor of the Egyptian peasantry subsidized the development of the global disciplines of medicine, anthropology, archaeology, entomology, and agricultural science. It demonstrates how and why the violent extraction of their labor took place when they were alive—in the field, factory, and in the birthing clinic—and continued after death on the dissection table.
- “An (Un)Natural History: Tracing the Magical Rhinoceros Horn in Egypt,”Isis: The Journal of the History of Science Society (2023) 114.3: 469-489
- “Occult Epidemics,” Special Issue: Pandemic Histories, eds. Anjali Arondekar and Sherene Seikaly, History of the Present (2023) 13.1: 87–100
- “The Cool Air,” Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2023) 53.1: 86-90
- “Ethnography,” In Sciences of Dune, eds. Henry Cowles and Haris Durrani, LA Review of Books (March 2022)
- “Betraying Behita: Superstition and the Paralysis of Blackness in Out el Koloub’s Zanouba,” Roundtable on Women and Crime, The International Journal of Middle East Studies (2022) 54.1: 149-158.
- Abdel Rahman Ismail’s Tibb al-Rukka and the Nubian Medicine Bundle: Toward Material Histories of Contagion,” The History of Contagion in Harvard’s Collections Project, eds. Hannah Marcus and Allan M. Brandt, Harvard Library Bulletin (February 2022)
- “The Cairo Agricultural Museum and Library,” Hazine (November 2018)
- Dilemmas of Archival Objectivity, Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences (2023) 53.1; special section co-edited with Henry Cowles and Chitra Ramalingam
- Review of ʿAṣfūriyyeh: A History of Madness, Modernity, and War in the Middle East, by Joelle M. Abi-Rached, Isis: The Journal of the History of Science Society, vol. 113.3 (September 2022), p. 676-677
- Review of Khartoum at Night: Fashion and Body Politics in Imperial Sudan by Marie Grace Brown, H-AMCA, H-Net Reviews, February 2018.
Recorded Talks and Lectures
- “Amuletic Archives: Writing Magico-Material Histories of the Middle East,” Historiography of the Middle East Seminar, UCLA (January 26, 2021)
- “The Curse of the Black Eggplant: Reconstructing Occult Economies in Late Ottoman Egypt,” The American Research Center in Egypt Virtual Lecture Series (October 31, 2020)
2023-2024 Winter and Spring Quarters
- HIST 146R Undergraduate Research Seminar: Writing Histories of Science and Technology in the Middle East (S)
- HIST 146W Women and Gender in the Modern Middle East (W)
- HIST 201S Graduate Seminar: Race and Science in Global History (W)
- 2023-2025 Junior Fellow, Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography, Rare Book School, University of Virginia
- 2022 Mellon Foundation/UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship Program UC-HSI Humanities Initiative Recipient
- 2020-2023 Academy Scholar, The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies
- 2020 UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellowship, Department of History, UC Santa Barbara
- 2019 WHOME Graduate Student Article Prize for “An (Un)Natural History: Tracing the Magical Rhinoceros Horn in Egypt”
- 2019 ANAMED Ottoman Language Summer Program (Advanced)
- 2019 CAORC Multi-Country Research Fellowship (Turkey and Egypt)
- 2019 Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship
- 2018 Rutgers SGS Off-Campus Dissertation Development Award
- 2018 Neal Ira Rosenthal History Travel Award (Istanbul, Turkey/Cairo, Egypt)
- 2017-2018 Fellow-In-Residence, Consortium for the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine, Philadelphia, PA
- 2017 Rutgers Center for African Studies Graduate Enhancement Award
- 2016 Neal Ira Rosenthal History Travel Award (Paris, France)
- 2015-2018 Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship
- 2015 SSRC Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship
- 2015 American Folklore Society Gerald L. Davis Travel Grant
- 2008 National Security Language Initiative for Youth Summer Language (Egypt/Arabic)