Public History Writing
Roundtable: “Middle East History in the Time of COVID-19: Disease, Environment, and Medicine,” with Joelle Abi Rachel, A. Tylor Brand, and Seçil Yılmaz, Jadaliyya, June 9, 2020.
Historians often demure when asked what concrete lessons can be drawn from the past. Meanwhile, purported irrelevance threatens the place of the humanities in higher education. That crisis of confidence, made more urgent by the COVID-19 pandemic, calls for a renewed engagement with practical questions and public audiences. What lessons can be drawn from the interrelated histories of disease, environment, and medicine? This roundtable invites four scholars of Middle East history to reflect on a series of questions to illuminate the current moment–in the region and beyond–with their research.
A Tale of Two Contagions: Science, Imperialism, and the 1883 Cholera in Egypt, Islamic Law Blog, May 25, 2020.
In the summer and fall of 1883, the newly-installed Anglo-Egyptian government faced its first public health crisis when cases of cholera were reported in the Nile Delta and rapidly spread throughout the country. The Anglo-Egyptian government’s response was based on imperial policies, racial prejudices, and scientific understandings that failed to adequately deal with the pandemic at the cost of 50,000 Egyptian lives.
“The Curious Case of the Thomas Cook Hospital in Luxor,” Not Even Past, Austin, TX: Department of History, October 7, 2019. (reposted from my blog).
More of a methods piece (ok, full disclosure: it’s based on an anecdote that my adviser didn’t like for my intro chapter), this is a blog post in which I recount one of my first outings presenting new information from my dissertation research, the guy who told me I was wrong about everything, and what I think it all means. And why it’s important.
Searching for Armenian Children in Turkey (Work series on Migration, Exile, and Displacement) Column for Not Even Past, October 2017.
In 1915, the Ottoman government rounded up the civilian Armenian population and forced them to march hundreds of miles into the Syrian desert. Most never arrived, having been killed, starved, or frozen to death. After the war, a small League of Nations program staffed by only three people, the Near East Refugee Aid (NERA) had one mission: to locate child survivors of the Armenian Genocide. However, as I discovered when reading through this unexpected archival find, NERA’s agents often refused to recognize the relationship between Turkish parents and Armenian children as genuine, leading to yet a second round of traumatic separations.
Mapping & Microbes (The New Archive, No. 22), Column for Not Even Past, September 2017
A short article detailing my experience turning reports of epidemic diseases Egypt during WWI into visual form using ARCGIS mapping software. I compiled a spreadsheet of almost 800 records for the period between late 1914 and mid-1919 from the official Egyptian government journal al-Waqa’i’ al-Masriyya. The next question was what to do with this data. I was certain the diseases would tell me something, if I could just figure out how to get them to speak.
“Texas is Adopting New Textbooks: Maybe They Should be Historically Accurate,” Not Even Past, Austin, TX: Department of History, November 18, 2014.
“Exploring the Silk Route,” Not Even Past, Austin, TX: Department of History, October 8, 2013.