Alan Mikhail, Nature and Empire in Ottoman Egypt: An Environmental History. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011.
Jadaliyya: What made you write this book?
Alan Mikhail: In the most general sense, I wrote this book because I wanted to understand the period of Ottoman rule in the Arab World. The Ottomans were in Egypt for over 350 years, so they clearly must have had a fundamental role in shaping its history, politics, culture, and economy. I wondered why so many historians of the Middle East work on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries rather than on the earlier period. Thus, I wanted to write a book that would help us understand the complex dynamics of the relationship between Egypt and the rest of the Ottoman Empire during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. I wanted it both to attend to local conditions in Egypt and to larger imperial processes of governance, economics, and ecology.