Theses Doctoral

Engineering Profit: Egyptian Railroads and the Unmaking of Prosperity 1847-1907

Baker, Rana

This dissertation explores a history of prosperity in Egypt from the vantage point of engineering works. It examines an Ottoman-Egyptian conception and organisation of prosperity and shows how it was unmade by practices of profit-making implemented by British civil engineers and colonial officials. The dissertation explores the case of one engineering project, namely the Egyptian railways, which were built over the course of the nineteenth and early twentieth century. In disputes over routes, connections, construction methods, costs and accounts, Ottoman-Egyptian engineers and officials attempted to organise the country's possibilities through “entanglements” with agrarian forms of life and particular configurations of debt, money and commodities.

Ending with the decades of the Anglo-French financial control and British occupation of Egypt, the dissertation shows how “interest” and “development” emerged to reflect the priorities of European bondholders to whom the railways were pledged. In considering “interest” and “development,” the dissertation provides a colonial history of two of the most persistent economic categories.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies
Thesis Advisors
Mitchell, Timothy P.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
December 7, 2022