What Is Islamic About Cholera In 19th Century Egypt?

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What Is Islamic About Cholera In 19th Century Egypt?
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What Is Islamic About Cholera In 19th Century Egypt? says
The Islamic Studies Graduate Colloquium presents:
"What is Islamic about Cholera in 19th Century Egypt?"

Christopher Rose
Doctoral Student, Department of History

Between 1883 and 1922, Egypt was visited by no less than five outbreaks of cholera, a virulent disease with spectacular symptomology whose outward spread from the Indian subcontinent was aided by European imperialism and faster transportation technologies. During this period Egypt, though nominally an Ottoman province, was under the control of the British Empire, and Britain's mission civilisatrice was well met with the Egyptian government's own modernization initiatives. In the mid-19thcentury, a national medical corps had dispatched throughout the Nile Valley to teach “modern medicine” to the broader population. In poorer urban and rural areas, they met with people whose understanding of disease was rooted in medieval Islamic ideas about epidemic disease, combined with herbal medicine and popular superstitions.

The social fallout from this intersection of competing paradigms can be seen in the headlines of the country's active press: riots took place in front of hospitals, widespread panic and flight were reported, along with more subtle forms of passive resistance to government attempts to control the disease. These stories, however, are absent from Egyptian social histories, which tend to focus on elite populations.

This colloquium presentation will focus on a portion of my dissertation prospectus describing how Islamic understandings of disease, its spread, and prevention provide a new lens into the social disturbances that accompanied the cholera outbreaks of 1883 and 1885 in Egypt.

Christopher Rose is a doctoral student in History at the University of Texas at Austin where he is working on a social history of cholera in British-occupied Egypt. He also serves as Assistant Director of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies where he oversees public scholarship and community engagement programs, and is the co-host of the podcast 15 Minute History.

The Islamic Studies Graduate Colloquium is a forum for discussion that encourages interdepartmental discussions and circulation of ideas among graduate students and professors with an interest in Islamic Studies. We will meet twice a month for a 30-minute presentation followed by comments and questions. The forum will be coordinated by Dr. Samy Ayoub.
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By: Middle Eastern Studies at The University of Texas

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