Agents of Nationalism: The Arab Cold War & The Politics of Egyptian Migration under Gamal Abdel Nasser

Key information

5:00 pm to 7:00 pm
Russell Square: College Buildings

About this event

Gerasimos Tsourapas (SOAS)

Does population mobility aid regimes in advancing their political ideologies? This talk focuses on whether a state’s citizens abroad strengthen its ability to broadcast and disseminate political messages, by examining Egyptian migration under Gamal Abdel Nasser, who spearheaded ideas of Arab nationalism in the 1952-1970 era. Discounting the prevailing view that regional migration only became a socio-economic priority for Egypt after 1973, it highlights how the organised dispatch abroad of thousands of teachers, doctors, and other professionals allowed the regime to project its prevailing political vision across host states in Africa and the Middle East. This talk relies primarily on newly declassified material from the British Foreign Office archives, unpublished reports from the Egyptian Ministry of Education archives, and a detailed analysis of related articles in three main Egyptian newspapers ( al-Ahram, al-Akhbar, al-Jumhuriya ) in order to provide a detailed reconstruction of regional migration’s importance for Egyptian foreign policy. It debunks the conventional wisdom that Egyptian migration became a socio-political issue only in the post-1973 era, arguing that the Nasserite regime developed a governmental policy that allowed, and encouraged, Egyptians’ political activism in Libya, Syria, Jordan, Yemen, and the Gulf according to state foreign policy priorities in the 1952-1967 period. Examining the politics of migration more broadly, it goes beyond discussions of remittances or development, in order to theorise migration as buttressing states’ normative influence and to underline the importance of non-elite populations in the dissemination of nationalist ideas.

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Gerasimos Tsourapas Agents of Nationalism: The Arab Cold War & The Politics of Egyptian Migration under Gamal Abdel Nasser

About the speaker

Gerasimos Tsourapas is a Senior Teaching Fellow in International Relations at SOAS, University of London. His research interests include diaspora politics, the interplay between migration and authoritarianism, as well as the politics of the Middle East, with a specific focus on Egypt and Tunisia. His published work has appeared in the British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies , the Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies , Mediterranean Politics , and Insight Turkey . For his research on Egyptian migration politics, he was awarded the 2015 Khayrallah Prize in Middle East Diaspora Studies, and the 2015 Middle East Studies Association Graduate Student Paper Prize.

Organiser: Centre for Migration and Diaspora Studies

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