Letters from Cairo: A Roundtable Discussion

On the release of our third book in the Blueprint Series, Letters from Cairo, join Joel Beinin, Annie DeVries, Alia Mossallam, and the editor, Laura Dolp, for a wide-ranging conversation about the complex riches of urban experience in Cairo during the mid-twentieth century. 

moderated by Yasser Sultan, doctoral candidate in Middle East North African History at Georgetown University


Dr. Joel Beinin’s research and writing focus on the social and cultural history and political economy of modern Egypt, Palestine, and Israel and on US policy in the Middle East. He has written or edited twelve books, most recently A Critical Political Economy of the Middle East and North Africa (Stanford University Press, 2020) co-edited with Bassam Haddad and Sherene Seikaly; Workers and Thieves: Labor Movements and Popular Uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2015); and Social Movements, Mobilization, and Contestation in the Middle East and North Africa, 2nd edition (Stanford University Press, 2013) co-edited with Frédéric Vairel. His articles have been published in leading scholarly journals in English and French as well as South Atlantic Quarterly, Socialist RegisterCarnegie PapersThe Nation, Le Monde Diplomatique, Middle East Report, and The Los Angeles Review of Books. Benin is the Donald J. McLachlan Professor of History and Professor of Middle East History, Emeritus at Stanford University. He has lived, studied, and conducted research in Egypt for extended periods since 1969. 

Annalise DeVries is an assistant professor of world history at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. Her scholarship explores the impact of global influences on modern Egyptian history with particular attention to spatial analysis, economic networks, and women’s and gender history. Her first book, Maadi: The Making and Unmaking of a Cairo Suburb, 1878-1962, was published by the American University in Cairo Press in March 2021.She has previously worked as a writer and editor, giving her an added interest in how digital storytelling can connect humanities scholarship to broader, public audiences. She is currently working on a new project about innovations in solar power in early twentieth century Cairo, and leads a digital history project on the Rosedale neighborhood south of Birmingham, called the Rosedale Memory Project. 

Dr. Laura Dolp is a practitioner, writer, and researcher about music as a site of human transformation. Her work often includes themes of music and spirituality, the interrelation of music and social spaces, mapping and musical practices, and the poetics of the natural world. Current projects include illustrations and poems for a dream-atlas entitled Sophia and an essay collection that explores the historical relationship between cartography and the musical score, Maps and Music: Stories of the Cartographic Score. She is also the editor of Arvo Pärt’s White Light: Media, Culture, Politics (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and co-author for The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (Cambridge University Press, 2012) and Artistic Citizenship: Artistry, Social Responsibility, and Ethical Praxis (Oxford University Press, 2016). Dolp is Associate Professor in Music History at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University. 

Dr. Alia Mossallam is a cultural historian interested in songs that tell stories and stories that tell of popular struggles behind the better-known events that shape world history. She is currently a EUME post-doctoral fellow of the EUME – Forum transregionale Studien, Berlin, where she is writing a book on the visual and musical archiving practices of the builders of the Aswan High Dam and the Nubian communities displaced by it. She is also a visiting scholar at Humboldt University’s Lautarchiv exploring the experiences of Egyptian, Tunisian and Algerian workers and subalterns on the fronts of World War I (and resulting revolts in their regions in 1918) through songs that capture these experiences. Some of her writings can be found in The Journal of Water HistoryThe History Workshop JournalJadaliyyaMa’azifBidayat and Mada Masr. In producing her research in different formats, she has tried her hand at playwriting with Hassan el-Geretly and Laila Soliman and written “Rawi” in the long-form nonfiction platform 60-pages. An experimentative pedagogue, she founded the site-specific public history project “Ihky ya Tarikh”, and taught at the American University in Cairo, Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences, and the Freie Universität in Berlin. 

Yasser Sultan (moderator) is a cultural historian of modern Egypt researching nationalism, masculinity and gender. He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at Georgetown University, writing his dissertation on the roles of public education, popular and visual cultures, print media, and religion in shaping common consciousness in Nasser’s Egypt.   

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