From the Editors
The sectarian spectacle that dominated so much Egyptian television coverage – at least that of the private networks – on Sunday, was unprecedented in modern Egyptian history. Even at the lowest points of modern Coptic-Muslim relations, the Coptic Cathedral and Patriarchal headquarters have not experienced the sort of siege that was violently imposed by plainclothes assailants and their abettors in the police, as mourners commemorated the lives of four Christians lost to ...Keep Reading »
Amidst the marches, street battles, and political deadlock covered night after night by the Egyptian media, one recent story almost escaped notice. On 4 February Michael Farag and Michael Shaker were each sentenced to three years in prison for having stolen weapons from the armed forces. With noteworthy decisions handed down by Egyptian judges on an almost daily basis, these sentences might seem, at first glance, rather mundane. What makes the media inattention harder to ...Keep Reading »
Depictions of bruised and battered bodies have had an enormous influence upon the waves of protest Egypt has witnessed since the initial stirrings of the January 25 Revolution – from the graphic post-mortem photograph of Khaled Said to images of what is widely known as the “blue bra incident.” However, I suspect few Egyptians would question the particular force of the brutality depicted in a video shot in front of the Ittihadiyya Palace on the evening of 1 February, even as ...Keep Reading »
As a historian, I am often struck by a particular misconception about history, widely held both in Egypt and abroad. This is the sense that, once written, history is fixed or finished – that, once a historian has “covered” Asyut in the 1860s or Alexandria in the 1940s, there is nothing further one can say about those subsections of the wider story of modern Egypt. In fact, history is written and rewritten by each successive generation of historians. What makes this writing ...Keep Reading »
حين قام الرئيس حسني مبارك بتعديل الدستور عام 2007، عاد إلى السطح الموضوع الذي طالما أثار جدلا واسعاً وهو وضع الشريعة في القانون المصري. ومن ضمن أكثر المشاركات في النقاش الذي تلى هذه التعديلات مفاجأة كان ما أدلى به البابا شنودة الثالث. ففي موقف يتناقض جذرياً مع مواقفه السابقة التي اتخذها في السبعينات إبان صراعه مع الرئيس السادات حول أسلمة المجتمع المصري، اتخذ البابا شنودة موقفاً تصالحياً عام 2007 تجاه الاسلاميين. وبالتأكيد فإن البابا قد جازف حين تبرأ من تصريح لأحد ...Keep Reading »
When President Mubarak introduced amendments to the 1971 Constitution in the year 2007, the always contested issue of the status of sharia in Egyptian law reemerged in public discourse. Among the most unexpected contributions to the debate that ensued was that made by the Coptic Orthodox Patriarch, the late Pope Shenouda III. In stark contrast to positions he had adopted in the 1970s, at the height of his struggle with President Anwar Sadat over the ‘Islamization’ of ...Keep Reading »
Mourning has seemed the order of the day in Egypt this week. Just as Egyptians prepared to remember and mourn the protesters who lost their lives at this time last year in the Battle of Mohamed Mahmoud, a train collision in Assiut killed fifty-one children, devastating the country. At first glance, the deaths at Mohamed Mahmoud would appear to have little in common with those at Assiut. The protesters were killed by security forces as they demonstrated against the military ...Keep Reading »
The constitution has taken center stage this week in Egypt’s fraught political transition. On Tuesday, Cairo’s Administrative Court referred the matter of the Constituent Assembly’s legality to the Supreme Constitutional Court, and the SCC is not expected to rule on the matter for at least two months. Advocates for the Assembly saw the Administrative Court decision as affording the constitution-writing body an opportunity to wrap up the work it has undertaken in the past ...Keep Reading »
One year ago, nearly thirty Egyptians, almost all Coptic Christians protesting against sectarian violence, were murdered as they marched on Maspero, the Egyptian Radio and Television Union building in downtown Cairo. The events of that day are seared into my memory despite the fact that I was thousands of miles away at the time — not least, the images of devastation and desolation that were photographed and videotaped at the Coptic Hospital as the victims of the ...Keep Reading »
Once upon a time, American tourists travelling in the Middle East were known to sew maple leaves onto their backpacks in the hope that masquerading as Canadians might stave off harangues about U.S. foreign policy. These days, they would be well advised to stick to Old Glory. At least the current president of the United States has made a rhetorical commitment to address the long-standing political differences between the U.S. and the Arab and Muslim worlds, even if he has not ...Keep Reading »
Paul Sedra is Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University, and Middle East editor of the Wiley-Blackwell journal, History Compass. He has taught at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, and has published articles in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, the Journal of Religious History, as well as the Middle East working paper series of Yale and Columbia Universities. The principal focus of his research is the social and cultural history of the modern Middle East. His most recent book, From Mission to Modernity: Evangelicals, Reformers and Education in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, was published by I.B. Tauris earlier this year. In the book, Sedra examines the connections between education and the rise of the modern state in nineteenth-century Egypt. Paul is a Contributing Editor of the Pedagogy Page at Jadaliyya.
From Mission to Modernity: Evangelicals, Reformers and Education in Nineteenth-Century Egypt (London: I.B. Tauris and Company Limited, 2011).
Peer-Reviewed Journal Articles
“Exposure to the Eyes of God: Monitorial Schools and Evangelicals in Early Nineteenth-Century England,” Paedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education, first published on 06 May 2010 (iFirst), 1-19.
“Writing the History of the Modern Copts: From Victims and Symbols to Actors,” History Compass 7, 3 (2009), 1049-1063.
“John Lieder and his Mission in Egypt: The Evangelical Ethos at Work Among Nineteenth-Century Copts,” Journal of Religious History 28, 3 (October 2004), 219-239.
“Imagining an Imperial Race: Egyptology in the Service of Empire,” Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 24, 1 (2004), 249-259.
“Class Cleavages and Ethnic Conflict: Coptic Christian Communities in Modern Egyptian Politics,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations 10, 2 (July 1999), 219-235.
Chapters in Edited Volumes
“The Patriarch and His Project: Cultivating a Coptic Community in Nineteenth-Century Egypt,” in Ramez Boutros, ed.Journal of the Canadian Society for Coptic Studies 1 (Piscataway, NJ: Gorgias Press, 2010), 109-120. [N.B. A revised and edited version of the chapter published in the 2007 Boudraa and Krause volume, requested for inclusion in the inaugural issue of this journal.]
“Missionaries, Peasants, and the Protection Problem: Negotiating Coptic Reform in Nineteenth-Century Egypt,” in Abbas Amanat and Magnus T. Bernhardsson, eds. US-Middle East Historical Encounters (Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2007).
“Schooling for a Modern Coptic Subjectivity in Nineteenth Century Egypt,” in Nabil Boudraa and Joseph Krause, eds.North African Mosaic: A Cultural Reappraisal of Ethnic and Religious Minorities (Newcastle, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 196-213.
“The Journals of an Ottoman Student in England, July 1829 to January 1830,” in Camron Michael Amin, Benjamin C. Fortna, and Elizabeth Frierson, eds. The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), 401-405.
“Observing Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha and His Administration at Work, 1843-1846,” in Camron Michael Amin, Benjamin C. Fortna, and Elizabeth Frierson, eds. The Modern Middle East: A Sourcebook for History (Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006), 39-42.
“Modernity’s Mission: Evangelical Efforts to Discipline the Nineteenth-Century Coptic Community,” in Eleanor H. Tejirian and Reeva Spector Simon, eds. Altruism and Imperialism: The Western Religious and Cultural Missionary Enterprise in the Middle East, Middle East Institute Occasional Papers 4 (New York, New York: Columbia University Middle East Institute, 2002), 208-235.
“Ecclesiastical Warfare: Patriarch, Presbyterian, and Peasant in Nineteenth-Century Asyut,” in Abbas Amanat and Magnus T. Bernhardsson, eds. The United States and the Middle East: Cultural Encounters, YCIAS Working Paper Series Vol. V (New Haven, Connecticut: Yale Center for International and Area Studies, 2002), 290-314.
“Interreligious Dialogue,” in Peter N. Stearns, ed. Encyclopaedia of the Modern World: 1750 to the Present (Oxford University Press, 2008).