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This event is the fourth roundtable of the Partnership Seminar Series The archives of Global History in a time of international immobility.

Note: The time above is for London (GMT+1 / BST). The seminar will take place at 15:00 London/Dublin; 16:00 Berlin; 16:00 Cairo.

Despite the long history of dissidence and exile in the Middle East, the story of political radical activists is more of a modern phenomenon. Fleeing and movement from one nation-state to another, believing in universal ideals, and belonging to transnational networks would be markers of “Radicalism” in the modern globally connected world. Historically, these personals and groups embodying these characters have been emerging hand in hand in an increasingly connected world. Such inter-connectedness and unprecedented scale of movement of people, commodities and ideas were essential in reshaping the activism circles around the world giving birth to such new groups. On the other side, the movement of those radicals and their ideas around the world whether voluntarily or as exiled changed history course and revealed the entanglement of the local, the national, and the global of any event. Focusing on the history of exiled radicals in Egypt, this seminar is hoping to explore the global historiography of radicalism and its contribution to current rising literature about activism and exile. 

From Omar Makram till now, Modern Egyptian history had witnessed countless exiled dissidents. However, there certain waves of activism and political momentum that were followed by a crackdown and then exile. This seminar would focus on these waves starting with Nahda exiled activist as Yacoub Sanou then communist radicals in the early 1920s, ending with the Rome group in 1950s Paris. Egypt would be the center of these stories not only as a place where exiles leave from, long to, or pass by but also as the sanctuary and exile itself. Such contrast would be highlighted through the experiences of exiled African liberation movement experiences residing in Post-colonial Cairo. 

Following this chronological order, the panelists will reflect on their research and the global history angle of local stories happening locally. Tracing the trajectories of radicals starting with the ideas affecting them, events they shaped, and mobility to various places as exiled, would help rethink the national and local history, highlighting the various agencies involved. Also, a cross-cut historical overview on the experience of exiled activities would reveal continuities as well as changes in those experiences, positioning Egypt as the relatively constant center in a wider changing story. 

The seminar will also focus on the research journey for each panelist, their motives for such journey, in/accessibility to various archives, and the relevance of global history as a concept to their work. Finally, the panel would shed light on the question of global history’s audience. Since the topics discussed are neither abstract nor purely academic but of relevance to many communities and groups who witness similar experiences, the panelists will highlight the various ways they engage with different audiences especially outside academia catering using tools varying from comics, blogs, translations, and social media.   

Reem Abou-El-Fadl is Senior Lecturer in Comparative Politics of the Middle East at SOAS University of London, and Fellow of the Higher Education Academy. Her research interests are in the politics of nationalism and nation-making in the Middle East, and the connections between local, national, and transnational scales of political identity. Her book, Foreign Policy as Nation Making: Turkey and Egypt in the Cold War was published by Cambridge University Press in 2019. She is particularly interested in the politics of solidarity across the Arab world and is currently researching the intersections of pan-Arabism and Afro-Asianism in Egypt, focusing on the Nasser and Sadat periods. Reem is the editor of Revolutionary Egypt: Connecting Domestic and International Struggles (Routledge, 2015), and of the Arabic language memoir of Egyptian Africanist Helmi Sharawy, Sira Misriyya Ifriqiyya (‘An Egyptian African Story’) (Dar al-Ain, 2019), which she is translating into English. Reem is co-editor of the Egypt page at Jadaliyya. Her work has appeared in the Journal of World History, Nations and Nationalism, the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, and the Journal of Palestine Studies.

Hannah Elsisi is a historian of the modern Middle East. Her research and teaching extend beyond that region and span issues of postcolonial governance and violence; queer, gendered, and working-class identity; power, production, and resistance under capitalist modernities. Before coming to Pembroke as Abdullah Al-Mubarak Research Fellow in History, she was a lecturer in the History Department at King’s College London where she taught Modern the Middle East and Transnational History and convened a special subject in the history of Gender and Sexuality in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Elsisi joined KCL from Oxford, while she was still a Ph.D. student in the History Faculty and T. E. Lawrence Prize scholar at Merton College.

Rim Naguib
received her Ph.D. in Sociology from Northwestern University (2016) and her MA from Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence (2006). Her Ph.D. dissertation is titled “Intelligentsia Class Formation and Ideologies in Peripheral Societies: Comparing Egypt and Iran, 1922-1952”. She was recently a post-doctoral fellow with the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. In Cairo, she has taught in several alternative education initiatives, seeking to popularize the critical social sciences. Her current research interests address three different, but not unrelated, fields: the genesis and development of Egyptian patriarchal nationalism; the formulation of the first Egyptian nationality law; and the practice of deporting internationalist foreigners in interwar Egypt. She is also writing and illustrating a graphic novel on the latter topic and has co-translated several graphic novels into Arabic. She is currently a Fritz Thyssen Stiftung Fellow in the Europe in the Middle East—the Middle East in Europe (EUME) program, at Forum Transregionale Studien, Berlin.

Hussein A H Omar
is Lecturer in Modern Global History. He is a cultural and intellectual historian of the Modern Middle East and comes to UCD from Oxford University where he was an AHRC Postdoctoral Fellow as part of theFirst World War and Global Religions project. His current research examines the anticolonial insurrectionary movements in Egypt and Iraq between 1919-1920. It builds on his forthcoming monograph ‘The Rule of Strangers: Empire, Islam and the Invention of "politics" in Egypt, 1867-- 1922’, which examined political ideas, as well as the very emergence of politics as an autonomous category, in Egypt between 1867 and 1922. Other areas of research interest include: how the property endowed to God (waqf) was managed by the colonial and postcolonial state; the emergence of 'minority rights' claims among Egyptian Christians; and Muslim sovereignty and kingship, before, after, and during the Ottoman defeat in the First World War. He is also writing a book called City of the Dead which tells the story of Egypt and the Mediterranean world through the lives of the members of a single-family over 500 years, from the Ottoman invasion of Egypt in 1517 to the 1960s.

Contemporary Image Collective Research Team : TBC

Chaired by Mohamed ELSayed. The initial roundtable will last around 80 minutes, followed by 40 minutes for audience questions.

Note: This seminar may be recorded and made available, with speakers’ consent. The recording will not show the names of muted attendees and the audience Q and A will not be recorded.

All welcome, this seminar is free to attend but booking is required.

Image Credit: Jennifer O’Donnell, Archive Folders, 2012, watercolour.