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.