EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 04 Dez 2019 | 17:00–18:30

Colonial Legacies: The Ideological Deportation of Foreigners and Local Subjects of Foreign Extractions in Interwar Egypt

Rim Naguib (EUME Fellow 2019/20), Chair: Veronica Ferreri (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient)

Forum Transregionale Studien, Wallotstr. 14, 14193 Berlin

Arrest of "The Mischievous Monsieur", Alexandria 1924

In the period between 1919 and 1927 in Egypt, several deportation attempts were made, of residents who held socialist beliefs or were engaged in trade union activities, out of fear of what British intelligence perceived as the spread of Bolshevism among the natives. Some of these attempts succeeded, and some failed, especially when the deportees were subjects of a then-disintegrated Ottoman Empire, and were not welcomed by any other government. At times, they roamed the Mediterranean for several months, before the Egyptian government was forced to abort the plan to deport them. In this presentation, Rim Naguib will recount several of these deportation stories, which she found in fragments scattered in the British Residency's correspondences and the local press.

In the process of putting together these stories, she observed certain mechanisms employed by the British authorities to institute the legality and necessity of ideological deportation of undesirable "foreigners" and "local subjects of foreign extractions" from Egypt, as such practice violated principles of civic nationhood, the right for asylum and the right to naturalisation based on place of birth and duration of domicile – which Britain upheld in the metropole – and even by-passed some of the deportees' legal status as local subjects.

At a critical time of nation-state building, this colonial practice, and its legitimating discourse, had a deep impact on the formulation of Egyptian nationalism. Following the unilateral Declaration of Independence of February 28, 1922, the drafting of a new constitution, and the rise to power of the first elected national government, ideological deportation – or the physical removal of non-indigenous socialists and syndicalists – became state policy, corresponding with a growing concern with state sovereignty and national interest, thus reinforcing the framing of Egyptian nationhood in ethnic terms, and the perception of migrants as a social and political threat to the Egyptian nation.

Rim Naguib received her PhD in Sociology from Northwestern University (2016) and her MA from Sciences Po Aix-en-Provence (2006). Her PhD dissertation is titled “Intelligentsia Class Formation and Ideologies in Peripheral Societies: Comparing Egypt and Iran, 1922-1952”. She was recently a post-doctoral fellow with the Arab Council for the Social Sciences. Based in Cairo, she taught in several alternative education initiatives, seeking to popularize the critical social sciences. Her current research interests address three different, but not unrelated, fields: the genesis and development of Egyptian patriarchal nationalism; the formulation of the first Egyptian nationality law; and the practice of deporting internationalist foreigners in interwar Egypt. She is also writing and illustrating a graphic novel on the latter topic, and has co-translated several graphic novels into Arabic. In the academic year 2019/20, Naguib is a EUME Fellow.

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