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Cambridge AHRC Doctoral Training Partnership - Student Profiles



I graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in Spanish and Arabic, having spent a year in Cairo as part of my studies. Following a further six months in Egypt I began the MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Oxford, where I studied Modern Turkish and completed a thesis entitled “Petitioning for Justice: Petitionary Practices in Turn-of-the-Century Egypt, 1891-1911” under the supervisor of Professor Eugene Rogan. The thesis explored the popular conceptualisations of justice as articulated in petitions composed in Arabic and the response of the British occupying authorities in London and Cairo.

The practice of petitioning fascinates me because of its interaction with the everyday lives of non-elites. The production of a petition may reside in the social spaces in-between and challenges the rigidities of the public and the private spheres, the literate and the illiterate, and the transgressive and contained forms of contentious politics. For my PhD project, under the supervision of Professor Khaled Fahmy and provisionally entitled, “The Petitionary Politics of Everyday Life in Turn-of-the-Century Egypt” I hope to develop a deeper understanding of these themes during the evolution of petitioning in Egypt between the Ottoman and British empires.

Other academic interests

  • Social and Labour History of the Modern Middle East
  • History of Contentious and Popular Politics in Egypt and Late Ottoman Empire
  • Popular Culture and Public Space in Egypt
  • Anti-imperialism and Post-colonialism in West Asia and North Africa
  • Activism of the Diasporas of the Eastern Mediterranean  
Department: Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies
Supervisor: Professor Khaled Fahmy
College: Robinson
AHRC subject area: Middle Eastern Studies
Title of thesis: The Petitionary Politics of Everyday Life in Turn-of-the-Century Egypt
 Calum  Humphreys