Professor Khaled Fahmy

Khaled FahmyProfessor Khaled Fahmy (currently on sabbatical) is the Director of the Centre of Islamic Studies, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa’id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies, and a Fellow of King’s College, Cambridge. He is a historian of the modern Middle East, with a specialty in the social and cultural history of nineteenth-century Egypt.

Born and raised in Egypt, Fahmy studied economics for his BA, and then political science for his MA, both degrees he received from the American University in Cairo (AUC). He then went to the University of Oxford where he wrote his DPhil dissertation on the history of the Egyptian army during the first half of the nineteenth century. After receiving his doctorate in 1993, Fahmy moved to the US where he worked first at Princeton University then at New York University. After seventeen years in the US, he returned to his home country in 2010, and joined his alma mater, AUC, as chair of the Department of History. In 2013, Fahmy returned to the US, this time as a visiting fellow at Columbia University, then as a visiting professor at Harvard University. He joined the University of Cambridge in 2017.

His research focuses on the social and cultural history of the modern Middle East, with a particular focus on nineteenth-century Egypt. He has written several books including a revisionist account of the army of Mehmed Ali Pasha (‘All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army, and the Making of Modern Egypt’), a critical biography of this towering nineteenth-century personality (‘Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt’) and ‘al-Jasad wa-l’Hadatha (The Body and Modernity)’, a collection of scholarly articles that deal with the history of the disciplines and practices of medicine and law in nineteenth-century Egypt.

Fahmy’s most recent book, In Quest of Justice: Islamic Law and Forensic Medicine in Modern Egypt, provides the first full account of the establishment and workings of a new kind of state in Egypt in the modern period. Drawing on groundbreaking research in the Egyptian archives, In Quest of Justice shows how the state affected those subject to it and their response. It also illustrates how shari’a was actually implemented, how criminal justice functioned, and how scientific-medical knowledges and practices were introduced. In early 2020 this book won the Social History Society Book Prize for the best book in social history.

You can watch an interview that Khaled had with Prof. Naomi Tadmor, the Chair of the Social History Society, about the book:


Prof. Fahmy’s webpage

Research Projects

The history of the imaret of Mehmed Ali Pasha in Kavala:

1967 Arab-Israeli War


In Quest of Justice University of California Press (2018)
-Winner of the Peter Gonville Stein Book Award for the best book in legal history written in English – presented by the the American Society for Legal History (ASLH) in Boston. “, In Quest of Justice masterfully rewrites the legal history of nineteenth-century Egypt”.

Mehmed Ali: From Ottoman Governor to Ruler of Egypt Oneworld Publications (2008)

Muhammad Ali Pasha and His Sabil The American University in Cairo Press (2005)

The Body and Modernity: Essays in the history of medicine and law in Modern Egypt (in Arabic) Cairo: Dar al-Kutub (2004)

All the Pasha’s Men: Mehmed Ali, His Army and the Making of Modern Egypt Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (1997)

Articles, Book Chapters etc

Rudolph Peters and the History of Modern Egyptian Law  Legal Documents as Sources for the History of Muslim Societies: Studies in Honour of Professor Rudolph Peters pp. 12-35 (2017)

The crisis of the humanities in Egypt Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, 37:1 pp. 142-148 (2017)

‘Inab wa Basal: ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir wa Qarar Insihab al-Jaysh al-Misri min Sina’ fi Harb Huzairan 1967 (in Arabic) Majallat al-Dirasat al-Falastiniyya, 28:110 (2017)

The defeat of the Egyptian army in 67 (in Arabic) Bidayat, no. 17 (2017)

1967: a structural and continuing defeat (in Arabic) Khaled Mansour (ed.) Tashrih al-Hazima (2017)

Mehmed Ali dynasty John M. MacKenzie (ed.) The Encyclopedia of Empire (2016)

The long revolution Aeon (2015)

Opening politics’ black box: Reflections on the 
past, present and future of the Egyptian 
Revolution Raja Shehadeh and Penny Johnson (ed.) Shifting Sands: The Unravelling of the Old Order in the Middle East pp. 69-81 (2015)

Dissecting the modern Egyptian state International Journal of Middle East Studies, 47:3 pp. 559-562 (2015)

The essence of Alexandria, pt. 2 Manifesta Journal, No. 16 pp. 22-27 (2012)

The essence of Alexandria, pt. 1 Manifesta Journal, No. 14 pp. 64-72 (2012)

The birth of the secular individual: medical and legal methods of identification in 19th-century Egypt Keith Breckenridge and Simon Szerter (ed.) Registration and Recognition: Documenting the Person in World History pp. 335-356 (2012)

Muhammad Ali Gerhard Bowering, Patricia Crone, Wadad Kadi, Devin J. Stewart, Muhammad Qasim Zaman (ed.) The Princeton Encyclopedia of Islamic Political Thought pp. 376-377 (2012)

Mubarak, Hosni Joel Krieger (ed.) The Oxford Companion to Comparative Politics (2012)

Muhammad ‘Ali et la nation égyptienne Bonaparte et l’Égypte: Feu et lumières pp. 324-329 (2008)

The responsibility of Arab governments in the war on Iraq Müge Gürsoy Sökmen (ed.) World Tribunal on Iraq pp. 108-113 (2008)

Muhammad ‘Ali Thomas Benjamin (ed.) The Encylclopedia of Western Colonialism pp. 808-809 (2006)

The army: The cornerstone of Muhammad Ali’s project (in Arabic) Muhammad Sabir ‘Arab (ed.) Muhammad Ali and His Age pp. 109-150 (2005)

Modernizing Cairo: A revisionist account Nezar AlSayyad, Irene A. Bierman, and Nasser Rabbat (ed.) Making Cairo Medieval pp. 173-199 (2005)

Justice, law and pain in Khedival Egypt Baudouin Dupret (ed.) Standing Trial: Law and the Person in the Modern Middle East pp. 85-116 (2004)

Towards a social history of modern Alexandria Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk (ed.) Alexandria, Real and Imagined pp. 281-306 (2004)

For Cavafy, with love and squalor: Some critical notes on the history and historiography of modern Alexandria Anthony Hirst and Michael Silk (ed.) Alexandria, Real and Imagined pp. 263-280 (2004)

Justice, law and the modern state in mid-nineteenth-century Egypt al-Ruznâme, v. 1 pp. 397-445 (2003)

An olfactory tale of two cities: Cairo in the nineteenth century Jill Edwards (ed.) Historians in Cairo: Essays in Honor of George Scanlon pp. 155-187 (2002)

Prostitution in nineteenth-century Egypt Eugene Rogan (ed.) Outside In: On the Margins of the Modern Middle East pp. 77-103 (2002)

Mutiny in Mehmed Ali’s New Nizamî Army, April-May 1824 International Journal of Turkish Studies, v. 8, nos. 1-2 pp. 129-138 (2002)

The military and politics in Egypt: An historical overview May Chartouni-Dubarry (ed.) Armée et nation en Egypte: pouvoir civil, pouvoir militaire pp. 21-42 (2001)

The role of the army in Mehmed Ali’s project (in Arabic) Raouf Abbas (ed.) Egypt in the Reign of Mehmed Ali: Reform or Modernization? pp. 165-276 (2000)

Medical Conditions in Egyptian Prisons in the Nineteenth Century Robin Ostle (ed.) Marginal Voices in Literature and Society: Individual and Society in the Mediterranean Muslim Worldpp. 135-153 (2000)

Medicine and Power: Towards a social history of medicine in nineteenth-century EgyptCairo Papers in the Social Sciences, Volume 23, No. 2 pp. 1-45 (2000)

The anatomy of Justice: Forensic medicine and criminal law in nineteenth-century EgyptIslamic Law and Society, vol. 6 pp. 224-271 (1999)

The legal history of Ottoman Egypt Islamic Law and Society, vol. 6 pp. 129-135 (1999)

The police and the people in nineteenth-century Egypt Die Welt des Islams, vol. 39, issue 3pp. 1-38 (1999)

The era of Mehmed Ali Pasha, 1805-1848 Martin Daly (ed.) The Cambridge History of Egypt, vol. 2 pp. 139-180 (1998)

Law, medicine and society in nineteenth-century Egypt Egypte/Monde arabe, no. 34 pp. 17-51 (1998)

Women, medicine and power in nineteenth-century Egypt Lila Abu-Lughod (ed.) Remaking Women: Feminism and Modernity in the Middle East pp. 17-51 (1998)

The nation and its deserters: Conscription in Mehmed Ali’s army International Review of Social History, vol. 43 pp. 421-436 (1998)