Dr Lucie Ryzova DPhil

Photograph of Dr Lucie Ryzova

Department of History
Senior Lecturer in Middle East History

Contact details

University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

I am a social and cultural historian of modern Egypt, with particular interest in Egyptian popular culture and vernacular modernity.


DPhil in History (University of Oxford)


I studied Arabic and Middle Eastern history at Charles University, Prague, before coming to the UK to do my DPhil in History at the University of Oxford. Before joining the University of Birmingham in the Fall of 2014, I held two postdoctoral positions at the University of Oxford: a Junior Research Fellowship at St John’s College, and a Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship at the Faculty of History.


I am currently on leave during 2017-18.

Postgraduate supervision

I am able to offer supervision in any aspect of modern and contemporary history of the Arab Middle East. Topics in popular culture of the Arab world, its social and cultural history and the history of photography (globally) are particularly welcome.

Find out more - our PhD History  page has information about doctoral research at the University of Birmingham.


My first book, The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt (Oxford University Press, 2014) is both a social history of a specific generation of young, self-consciously modern men (the efendis), and a cultural history of Egyptian modernity writ large. 

I am currently working on two book projects, extending from my post-doctoral research. The first is a social history of photography in 20th century Egypt. By looking at private snapshots, personal albums, commercial studio portraiture, and the remediation and circulation of photographs across Egyptian popular culture of the late Colonial era, this project tells an intimate history of the everyday performances of local vernacular modernity. The second book project is a historical ethnography of reading and writing in late Colonial era Egypt. Based around a chance find of an anonymous “love diary” (a record of the subject’s intimate thoughts) written by a young man in the 1940s, it follows three related themes: a historical ethnography of reading and writing among young efendi men whose engagement with writing signalled a wider historical shift in notions of textual authority; issues of love and personhood among this generation, and its relationship to what was, for Egypt, a historically novel configuration of texts and writing practices; and the history of vernacular press and print ephemera, including its ongoing valorisation and commercialisation in a number of academic, commercial and activist contexts in contemporary Cairo and beyond.

I am also working on contemporary topics in two main areas: the production of cultural (and especially photographic) heritage in contemporary Egypt and the region; and an alternative social history of Downtown Cairo with particular attention to the social meanings of spatial practices such as hanging out, strolling, and loitering.

Other activities

I serve on the editorial board of Past & Present, and on the steering committee of the Centre for Printing History and Cultures." 


Recent publications


Ryzova, L 2014, The Age of the Efendiyya: Passages to Modernity in National-Colonial Egypt. Oxford Historical Monographs, Oxford University Press. <https://global.oup.com/academic/product/the-age-of-the-efendiyya-9780199681778?cc=gb&lang=en&>


Ryzova, L 2020, 'The battle of Muhammad Mahmud street in Cairo: the poetics and politics of urban violence in revolutionary time', Past & Present, vol. 247, no. 1, pp. 273–317. https://doi.org/10.1093/pastj/gtz029

Ryzova, L 2015, 'Boys girls and kodaks: peer albums and middle-class personhood in mid-twentieth-century Egypt', Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication , vol. 8, no. 2-3, pp. 215-255. https://doi.org/10.1163/18739865-00802005

Ryzova, L 2015, 'Unstable icons, contested histories: vintage Photographs and Neoliberal Memory in Contemporary Egypt', Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication , vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 37-68. https://doi.org/10.1163/18739865-00801004

Ryzova, L 2014, 'Mourning the Archive: Middle Eastern Photographic Heritage between Neoliberalism and Digital Reproduction', Comparative Studies in Society and History, vol. 56, no. 04, pp. 1027-1061. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0010417514000486


Ryzova, L 2024, Photography, Selfhood, and Cultural Modernity. in B Baron & J Culang (eds), The Oxford Handbook of Modern Egyptian History. Oxford Handbooks, Oxford University Press.

Ryzova, L 2023, Print Culture and New Fictional Imagination in Egypt. in K Barber & S Newell (eds), Print Cultures and African Literature 1860-1960. African Literature in Transition, Cambridge University Press.

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