My work examines the nexus of Islamic intellectual life and the History of Science in the Late Ottoman Empire, particularly the Arab East. My dissertation is the first study devoted to the history of astronomy in Late Ottoman Egypt. Rather than starting with the introduction of European astronomy in this period, I draw on manuscript research to shed new light on Islamic astronomy’s surprising strength. This Islamic tradition’s continuity is an important context for understanding the history of new sites of astronomical knowledge in nineteenth-century Egypt, such as the Viceregal Observatory and the emergent Arabic press, which I have investigated through Egyptian and British archives.
A historicized understanding of science in the Late Ottoman period has implications for a range of important topics in Middle East and Islamic history, from the growth of the centralized state to what some scholars have called the “fragmentation of religious authority” in modernity. This tendency to cut across diverse topics and to violate preconceived boundaries—from political borders, to religious communal boundaries, to historiographical categories—is one of the attractions of History of Science in general and as an approach to understanding the Middle East in particular. The desire to cross such boundaries animates my teaching as well as my research.
I first came to Middle East history as an undergraduate, when I spent a semester at the American University in Cairo. Since then, I have returned to Egypt to live and to study on numerous occasions. I have also lived and done research in Israel, studied in Morocco, and traveled in other parts of the region. My contributions to Middle East history and Islamic studies include publications in the Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (June 2012) and Arabica (forthcoming), as well as presentations for a variety of audiences, including the Middle East Studies Association. My teaching experience includes an introduction to the Middle East and an introduction to Islam.
I have received a number of grants and fellowships to pursue my studies, including a Whiting Fellowship, a Fulbright Fellowship in Egypt, a fellowship at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo, and a Bernadotte Schmitt Research Grant from the American Historical Association. I recently completed a year as a graduate fellow at Princeton’s Center for the Study of Religion. I earned my A.B. magna cum laude in History and Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Harvard College. In addition to the Ph.D in Near Eastern Studies, I am earning a graduate certificate through Princeton’s Program in the History of Science.