Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, Rutgers University
Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellow
2017 to 2018
Fellow in Residence
Superstitious Women: Race, Magic, and Medicine in Semicolonial Upper Egypt (1875-1960)
This project explores the role that local female healers, or wise women, played in the development of anthropological and medical expertise in early twentieth century Egypt. Merging scholarship on medicine and magic in the Arab world with that of museums and collecting, my dissertation considers how racialized constructions of the Upper Egyptian peasant woman--along with the socio-medical, spiritual, and environmental worlds they inhabited--impacted the global formation of the disciplines of anthropology and archeology during the interwar period. The development of anthropological thought in interwar Egypt and abroad hinged on the study of “superstitious practices” (tibb al-rikka) among the rural populations in Upper Egypt. This projects first examines the lives and folk medicinal practices of Egyptian wise women. It goes on to investigate how the ‘tools of the trade’ used in these practices peaked the interests of foreign and Egyptian ethno-archaeologists and folklorists in the interwar period, and were subsequently collected and displayed in prominent ethnographic museums in Egypt, Britain, and the US.