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Left - Prince Abbas Hilmi, Chairman of the Trustees of the Mohamed Ali Foundation, Center - Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Right - Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart Corbridge, at the inauguration of the Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship programme 29.06.2018


The Mohamed Ali Foundation Fellowship is hosted by Durham University and is awarded to early career (post-doctoral) or established scholars. The Mohamed Ali Foundation aims include advancing the education of the public in the history of the Islamic World, of Egypt and of the Mohamed Ali Family in particular, especially the period of reign of Khedive Abbas Hilmi II (1892-1914). 

In June 2018, the Mohamed Ali Foundation announced the launch of this Fellowship Programme, to dedicate scholarly attention to the Abbas Hilmi II Papers held at Durham University and to make the collection more widely known to scholars. The goal is to deepen our understanding of an important period in Egyptian history and a transformative era in East-West relations. 

The fellowship programme is based at Durham University and overseen by an international Advisory Panel consisting of academic subject specialists. The programme began in 2019 with the residency of the first fellow, Dr. Pascale Ghazaleh from the American University in Cairo. Additional fellowships will be awarded over the next coming years. An Advisory Panel, chaired by Professor Anoush Ehteshami, Director of the Institute for Middle Eastern & Islamic Studies, will select one or two fellows each year. Fellows in this fellowship series deliver public lectures at Durham University. These lectures will be developed into an edited volume to be published upon the completion of the fellowship series. In the meantime, papers usually based on these lectures will be published in the Durham Middle East Papers series by the Institute for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.  

Fellows can be early career (post-doctoral) or established scholars. Given the nature of the collection, it is often necessary to have a good reading knowledge of Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, French, and English. The online catalogue of the collection provides information on the languages used in each file of material.  

Fellows will conduct research on the Abbas Hilmi II Papers, focusing on an agreed topic, and deliver a lecture at Durham University. Each lecture will eventually become a chapter in a high-quality volume of original research, edited by Dr. Ghazaleh. In the meantime, the lectures will be published in the university's Middle East Papers series. The breadth of material in the Abbas Hilmi II Papers lends itself to an interdisciplinary approach. To guide potential fellows, an outline plan for this volume is provided in the fellowship application documentation. This plan is not meant to be rigid, and the Advisory Panel will consider alternative proposals as long as they are grounded in the Abbas Hilmi II Papers and supported in the application. 


Professor Ghazaleh’s inaugural lecture Archives of the last khedive in the fellowship series explored the significant research potential of the papers of Abbas Hilmi II (1874-1944), presenting a broad overview of the collection and its strengths and drawing out some of its highlights, contextualising these with other collections in the region and existing historiography. An outline of a future edited volume is presented, with suggested chapter themes.

2023 Fellows

Dr. Karim Malak

The Last Khedive but the First to Decolonize?: Abbas Hilmi II's odyssey for sovereignty.

Dr Karim Malak explores the nature of Egyptian Sovereignty at the turn of the 19th century. Challenging the narrative that sees the Egyptian state emerge after 1919, Malak traces its birth to increasingly assertive policies and reforms that began under Mehmet Ali and Ibrahim Pasha, which were stunted by the British but later picked up by Khedive Abbas Hilmi II. Asking what were the limits and opportunities for governance afforded within competing visions of Ottoman and British sovereignty, Malak concentrates particularly on accounting and financial reform, military bureaucracy, and that of the awqāf; the key battlegrounds for Egyptian sovereignty between the 1870s and 1914 when an earlier undertheorized epoch of decolonization began.

Dr. Sami Moubayed 

Failed attempts at making Abbas Hilmi II king of Syria (1930-1933)

Dr Sami Moubayed analyses the brief proposal of Abbas Hilmi II as a king of Syria in 1932, and to place this incident in context with the legacy and ambitions of his ancestor Mohammad Ali Pasha, who intervened in Syria in the early 19th century, and with the short reign of Faisal I after the First World War. He reflects on how this nomination was received by different groups in contemporary Syria and by Abbas Hilmi II himself, and considers what policies might have been adopted by such a ruler.

The Fellowship, jointly held in IMEIS and Grey College, grants the holder full access to departmental and other University facilities, such as Computing and Information Services and the University Library, during their residency. Accommodation is provided at Durham University during the Epiphany term (January-March), but arrangements can be made for residencies in different terms to accommodate the availability of fellows. Fellows may also be allowed to reside in Cairo or Istanbul for the duration of the fellowship if digitised copies of the archive are available there. All fellows will visit Durham, even if briefly, to deliver their lecture. Lectures and other activities outside of Durham during the fellowship will be encouraged. 

Fellows who reside at Durham will also be encouraged to actively participate in academic and collegiate life, including delivering the aforementioned lecture and potentially contributing to seminars. 

Upon completion of their fellowship, fellows will receive an honorarium, and accommodation and meals will be provided for the duration of the fellowship. Additionally, each fellow will have access to a research travel grant. 

Applicants are advised to familiarise themselves with the online catalogue of the Abbas Hilmi II Papers or the collection itself, and to review the outline plan for the edited volume provided below. More detailed information about the fellowship programme is also available. 

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