Theses Doctoral

Fragmented Geographies: The See of Alexandria, Its Following, and the Estrangements of Modernity

Georgy, Joshua Thomas

This dissertation focuses on the ecclesiastical formation of the Anti-Chalcedonian Alexandrian See and its following, primarily during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. For hundreds of years, this Christian Orthodox communion had a distinctive "geography" which, in a sense, has been "carved up" in the modern period. Today, its territories are incorporated within the boundaries of a number of national states, while the sweeping abstraction of "world regions" has bisected the territorial reaches of communion, assigning one parcel to the "Middle East" and the other to "Africa." This fragmentation is reflected in the scholarship, where the "parts" of this geography have been scattered across multiple, and sometimes mutually isolated fields of inquiry. In the coming chapters, we set out in search of an Alexandrian Orthodox Oecumeme which modern discourses, constructs and analytical frames have concealed. We will shed light on various dimensions of a formation which was constituted by myriad relationships and characterized by nebulous frontiers. We will contemplate an arrangement in which "Egyptian" Copts, "Ethiopian" Orthodox and others were linked in shared communion, while situating this within the wider context of an ancien regime order. We will also explore the metaphorical hinterlands of communion, where manifold relationships existed linking Christians and Muslims, monks and bedouin and others, sometimes in most intimate ways. Over the course of these chapters, we will follow processes, discourses and conceptual changes of the nineteenth century that invaded the "hinterlands," severing and reordering relationships while gradually erecting an edifice of boundaried constructs (territorial, institutional, communal.) The exploration of these novelties, together with a host of starkly drawn binaries (among them "religious"/"secular" and "spiritual"/"temporal") will provide insights into the emergence of modern nation-states, national minorities and national churches. But the apparition of these restricting and fragmenting objects coincided with an apparently paradoxical development; the so-called "globalization" of the patriarchal see of Alexandria. This set of circumstances is inexplicable without a rigorous inquiry into the profound transformations that have characterized the modern period. The coming chapters constitute, collectively, a building block to this larger purpose.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Khalidi, Rashid I.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
September 15, 2015