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." 



  • The Age of the Efendiyya : Passages to Modernity in Colonial-National Egypt (Oxford : Oxford University Press 2014).  Winner (joint) of the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize. 

Edited collections

  • Local Histories of Photography in the Middle East, double special issue of the Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication,Vol. 8., No.2-3 (Summer-Fall 2015). 

Journal articles

  • “Strolling in Enemy Territory: Downtown Cairo, Its Publics, and Urban Heterotopias” Orient-Institut Studies (Orient-Institut Beirut, 2015).
  • “Boys, Girls and Kodaks: Peer Albums and Middle-Class Personhood in Mid-Twentieth-Century Egypt” in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, Vol. 8., No.2-3 (Summer-Fall 2015).
  • “Unstable Icons, Contested Histories: Vintage Photographs and Neoliberal Memory in Contemporary Egypt,” in Middle East Journal of Culture and Communication, Vol. 8., No.1 (Spring 2015).
  • “Mourning the Archive in Cairo: Middle Eastern Photographic Heritage between Neoliberalism and Digital Reproduction,” Comparative Studies in Society and History 56/4 (2014). Translated into Arabic by Sami Selim, al-Fusul (Cairo, Spring 2014).
  • “My notepad is my Friend: Efendis and the Act of Writing in Modern Egypt,” in The Maghreb Review (Spring 2008). 
  • “I am a Whore but I will be a Good Mother: On the Production and Consumption of the Female Body in Modern Egypt,” in Arab Studies Journal, Vol. XII no. 2/Vol. XIII no. 1 (Fall 2004/Spring 2005).  Translated into Arabic by Muhammad Mitwalli and Shirin Abu al-Naga’, Al-Kitaba al-Ukhra (Cairo 2010).

Book chapters

  • “Nostalgia for the Modern: Archive Fever in Egypt in the Age of Post-Photography,” in Photographic Archives and the Idea of Nation, edited by Costanza Caraffa and Tiziana Serena (Berlin-Munich: De Gruyter, 2014).
  • “I have the Picture! On the constitution of photographic heritage in the Middle East and its discontents,” in Uncommon Grounds: New Media and Contemporary Art Practice in North Africa and the Middle East (Vol. II), edited by Anthony Downey (London: I.B.Tauris/Ibraaz 2014).
  • “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly: Collector, Dealer and Academic in the Informal Used-paper Markets of Cairo” in Archives, Museums and Collecting Practices in the Modern Arab World, edited by Sonia Mejcher-Atassi and John-Pedro Schwartz (London: Ashgate, 2011).
  • “Egyptianising Modernity. Social and Cultural Constructions of the Middle Classes in Egypt under the Monarchy,” in Re-envisioning the Egyptian Monarchy, edited by Arthur Goldschmidt, Amy Johnson and Barak Salmoni (Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2005).

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