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Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt
An Environmental History

$113.00 (C)

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Part of Studies in Environment and History

  • Date Published: April 2011
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107008762

$ 113.00 (C)

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About the Authors
  • In one of the first ever environmental histories of the Ottoman Empire, Alan Mikhail examines relations between the empire and its most lucrative province of Egypt. Based on both the local records of various towns and villages in rural Egypt and the imperial orders of the Ottoman state, this book charts how changes in the control of natural resources fundamentally altered the nature of Ottoman imperial sovereignty in Egypt and throughout the empire. In revealing how Egyptian peasants were able to use their knowledge and experience of local environments to force the hand of the imperial state, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt tells a story of the connections of empire stretching from canals in the Egyptian countryside to the palace in Istanbul, from the Anatolian forest to the shores of the Red Sea, and from a plague flea's bite to the fortunes of one of the most powerful states of the early modern world.

    • First ever environmental history of the Middle East
    • Uses both Ottoman Turkish and Arabic archival materials from over a dozen collections in Turkey and Egypt
    • Elucidates the importance of Egypt in the Ottoman Empire
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    • Winner, 2011 Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication, Yale University

    Reviews & endorsements

    “This book adds an important new dimension to the historiography of Ottoman Egypt. The author makes very intelligent use of Ottoman administrative documents and Muslim court records from a variety of Egyptian locales in order to situate this critical region within the new cutting-edge scholarship on the role of the environment and natural resource management in history.” – Jane Hathaway, Ohio State University, author of The Arab Lands under Ottoman Rule, 1516–1800

    “Alan Mikhail deploys an impressive array of environmental history insights. He asks new questions and comes up with startling answers.” – Richard W. Bulliet, Columbia University

    “Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt offers a history of the Ottoman world like no other. The force of environmental processes, the lived detail of peasant life, and the emergent forms of modern governmental power interact in this highly original account of early modern Egypt.” – Timothy Mitchell, Columbia University

    "Through admirable and painstaking research, Mikhail has explored a new and fascinating aspect of Ottoman Egypt, using a timeframe that spans a transitional period, which allowed him to draw comparisons and provide original comments and provocative opinions that will stimulate future debate. This book is highly recommended." – Doris Behrens-Abouseif, Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient

    "This book represents an immense achievement. As a pioneering work of Ottoman environmental history, it sets an excellent example. Mikhail has produced a clear, comprehensive history of the environment in Ottoman Egypt. Even more significantly, the scope of his project and his masterful execution make this book a major contribution to the world of scholarship. Through this work, Mikhail ensures that the field of Ottoman environmental history will not continue to go unnoticed." - Andrea Williams, The Arab World Geographer

    "...a highly original work which attempts to analyze the changes that accompanied Egypt’s transition from the early modern period to the beginning of modernization at the end of the 18th century. The use of sources in this book is creative, and the work stands out for its novel treatment of transformations of material life in Egypt." - Stuart Borsch, Middle East Journal

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    Product details

    • Date Published: April 2011
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107008762
    • length: 382 pages
    • dimensions: 231 x 157 x 30 mm
    • weight: 0.73kg
    • contains: 7 b/w illus. 9 maps 7 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: an empire by nature
    1. Watering the Earth
    2. The food chain
    3. The framework of empire
    4. In working order
    5. From nature to disease
    6. Another Nile
    Conclusion: the imagination and reality of public works
    Appendix: citations for cases enumerated in Tables 1 through 4.

  • Author

    Alan Mikhail, Yale University, Connecticut
    Alan Mikhail is Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Yale University. His articles have appeared in journals such as the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of the Economic and Social History of the Orient, the Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Akhbar al-Adab and Wijhat Nazar.


    • Winner, 2011 Samuel and Ronnie Heyman Prize for Outstanding Scholarly Publication, Yale University
    • Winner of the 2011 Roger Owen Book Award, Middle East Studies Association

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