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Khaled Fahmy Posts

Thinking with Alaa

Published in Mada Masr on 21 December 2019 Software developer and activist Alaa Abd El Fattah has been imprisoned in the Maximum Security Wing 2 of the Tora Prison Complex for the last three months. He was arrested by national security agents on the morning of September 29 as he was leaving Dokki Police Station where he had been forced to spend 12 hours every night — from 6 pm to 6 am — as part of his probation since his release from prison at the end of March after serving a five-year sentence. Alaa is being held in remand…

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The Great Theft of History: The Egyptian Army in the First World War

A lecture delivered on 27 March, 2019, in a conference titled “The Egyptian Revolution of 1919: The birth fo a nation” organized by the British Egyptian Society, the London Middle East Centre, and the Council for British Research in the Levant On November 11, 2013, the Military Research Department of the Egyptian Armed Forces staged a huge event commemorating the ninety-ninth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. Major-General Amin Hussein assistant to the Minister of Defense delivered a speech which extolled the participation of the Egyptian army in the war and highlighted, quote, “the heroic sacrifices of the Egyptian…


A history of the state told through the senses

This conversation with Youssef El Chazli was published din Mada Masr on 8 June 2019 Khaled Fahmy, who holds the Sultan Qaboos bin Said chair in modern Arabic studies at the University of Cambridge, has worked tirelessly to scrutinize and reevaluate dominant narratives and historical assumptions about the Egyptian state and its many institutions. In his first book, All the Pasha’s Men, Fahmy took up the narrative of Mohammed Ali’s construction of modern Egypt, in particular the role the construction of the army played in this trajectory. As Amr Ezzat wrote in an article in al-Shorouk in 2013, the book was an attempt…

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“State paradox”: Adam Sabra’s review of In Quest of Justice

Adam Sabra published the following review of In Quest of Justice in al-Ahram Weekly, issue 1437, 4-10 April 2019. Khaled Fahmy’s fascinating and important new book addresses fundamental questions about the nature of Egypt’s modernity. Tracing the origins of forensic medicine to the middle of the 19th century (1830-1880), Fahmy offers a revisionist account of the origins of the modern Egyptian state and its relationship to Islamic law. Critical of modernisation theories of both the right and left as well as of Islamist critiques of the legitimacy of Egypt’s path to modernity, Fahmy suggests that Egypt under the descendants of…

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Tahrir and Gala’

N.B. This article was written in May 2011. An Arabic translation was published in Majlallat al-Dirasat al-Falastiniyya, v. 86, Spring 2011. On January 25, I had my first encounter with tear gas. Answering many calls on Facebook and other social network media, I went to Tahrir Square to join my sister and her son who had already been there for a few hours. As soon as I entered the square I realized that something big was happening—the last time I saw such a large crowd in Tahrir was in 2003 during the demonstrations against the US invasion of Iraq. The…

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Adventures in the Archives (5): a murder case from 1863

The following is a homicide case adjudicated by Majlis al-Ahkam in 1280 AH / 1863 CE   You can download it as a pdf here: Ibrahim al Saidi qisas case And the following is a transcription: ١. مضبطة صورتها مجلس بني سويف كان أرسل للأحكام قرار وأوراق بإفادة رقم ٢٦ صفر سنة ٨٠ نمرة ١٣٢ تبين منهم أن شيخ ناحية القضابي بمديرية المنيا المسما ٢. علي عبد الهادي توجه في يوم ١٥ محرم سنة ٨٠ للمديرية مع أشخاص حاملين نفر مقتول يدعى قمح حسن من الناحية المذكورة وقرر بأنه كان بمنزله في ظهر ذاك اليوم ٣. ولما سمع عن قتل النفر…

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Adventures in the Archives (7): Hamama the foul-mouthed woman

This is a case from 1054 AH / 1644 CE And this is how it appears on the entire page of the register (the uppermost case): and this is a transcription of the case:     And this is a pdf of the transcription: Hamama the foul-mouthed woman-transcription

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Adventures in the archives (4)

In spring 2017, I taught a class at Harvard on Arabic paleography and archival skills. Each week, we’d read a couple of Arabic, hand-written archival documents that I had culled from the Egyptian National Archives. The documents were mostly from the 19th century, although some dated from the 16th and 17th centuries. I’d have the documents transcribed and the quaint and odd words explained in advance. On their part, the students were supposed to a. translate the document,  and b. practice reading it at home and be prepared to read it in class from the original, hand-written text. The documents ranged…

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Advanced praise for In Quest of Justice

In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt  Due to be published by University of California Press in October 2018 Rights: Available worldwide Pages: 408 ISBN: 9780520279032 Trim Size: 6 x 9 Illustrations: 10 bw figures ORDER ONLINE AND SAVE 30% Use source code 17M6662 at checkout       “Fahmy rewrites the narrative of legal and institutional development by bringing in the Egyptian state with its new capacities and its elite as actors with clear interests and strategies of their own, as well as the broader Egyptian population whose protests and accommodations shaped this…

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