New Publication Alert!

In my new article, I go back to the incident that started me down the whole history of medicine track in the first place: the cholera outbreak of 1883 in Egypt.

The new article is called “Trial by Virus: Colonial Medicine and the 1883 Cholera in Egypt” and it’s in the spring 2023 issue (24:1) of the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History.

In it, I explore how public health was transformed in Egypt soon after its occupation by Great Britain in 1882. Over the course of the nineteenth century, the Egyptian state had invested substantially in health to boost the nation’s economic and military strength, and, especially after the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869, to address European concerns about the potential for diseases to be transmitted along trade routes. In the process, a certain amount of negotiation was required with the Egyptian population regarding how treatment would be delivered, by whom, and where.

The 1883 outbreak of cholera—one of the most feared diseases in the 19th century—provided the newly established Anglo-Egyptian government with an opportunity to restructure the public health infrastructure in Egypt in a way that reduced cost significantly (an important factor, given that Egypt was heavily indebted to British and French banks). The Anglo-Egyptian administration’s new policies were based on attitudes about what constituted modern medical practice, the appropriate relationship between medical provider and consumer, and the ways in which the consumer was expected to behave.

I argue that this is a key moment of transition in which public health in Egypt came to bear the hallmarks of “colonial medicine,” a system that has been described throughout much of the colonized world, in which personal hygiene practices and the acceptance of medical care were seen as necessary markers of modernity and progress—even when such restrictions came at the expense of nearly fifty thousand Egyptian lives.

Full text for readers with institutional access to Project MUSE at

Readers without institutional access can find a link to the full text of the article here.

Back in the saddle

It’s been quite a while since I’ve posted anything here; once I finished the Grad School Survival Guide I kind of ran out of steam (especially since I sat on the job market not moving for quite a while — writing a “how-to” guide on how to be a Ph.D. collecting unemployment, as I did in the spring of 2021, just didn’t seem all that enticing).

So, very quick life update: at the last moment–literally, I had made up my mind to pursue opportunities outside of academia if this didn’t work out–I found a full time position at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio (about 75 minutes away, which, in all honesty, isn’t a bad commute for the Greater Austin area).

Also, it kind of looks like Hogwarts.

I didn’t know OLLU was the kind of community I was looking for, but it turns out to be a pretty good fit for me: first off, I don’t have to move (the idea of living apart appealed to neither of us), but, secondly, as OLLU is a teaching institution, I can continue research and writing at my pace, but not with the pressure that comes with the tenure track at an R1–which was not something I particularly wanted to deal with.

My next article, which will be out in the spring in the Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History, sat in revision for 16 months (admittedly, I didn’t look at it for 15 of 16 of those months), but that’s how things are with COVID. I don’t need someone breathing down my neck about it.

Plus, people are nice at OLLU. We all say hi in the morning. And, even though the school is going through an enrollment crunch and budget issues like everywhere else, everyone seems pretty determined to make the most of it with what we have.

Plus, as the world history half of the history program, I have the opportunity to reimagine course offerings in line with the school’s identity as a majority Mexican-American campus as that aspect of the curriculum continues to be emphasized. I really am very lucky, in so many ways.

I was particularly fortunate because about six weeks after being offered the job, I found out that I’d been awarded a Fulbright US scholar grant … and OLLU let me take half of my first year off to do it. (Again, I am very lucky).

Which is why I find myself this morning in Cairo, drinking a cup of mint tea and typing furiously on my computer in my apartment that does not have a view of the Nile (it faces the wrong way and also it’s not actually on the Nile).

I’m back in the saddle, working on my book again. I’ve put out a couple of articles based on material from the dissertation, and the heavy critique on both is that they don’t have very many sources in Arabic, or from the Egyptian point of view. This is both fair and unsurprising; in 2016 when I was working on my dissertation I was unable to travel to Egypt, so I had to do nearly all of my work in the British National Archives.

I’d been intending for a while to try to get back here and acquire some of the sources I would need to revise the manuscript, and now I have the funding to do so. Life in Cairo has its difficulties (I stumbled into a tourist scam yesterday with eyes wide open and my pride is still a bit wounded), but it’s manageable.

In all honesty this isn’t the first post I’ve made about this research trip, but some of the posts will, by necessity, be password protected and written for a select group of friends, family, and colleagues until I leave Egypt. (And, remember, my book is about World War I, so, no, I don’t know anything about the mummies they just found. Stop asking me about mummies.)

So, it’s time to dust this thing off and see where it goes. Come along with me on this adventure!