Kyle J. Anderson is an Assistant Professor at SUNY Old Westbury and the author of The Egyptian Labor Corps: Race, Space, and Place in the First World War. His research has been funded by the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) and the American Research Center in Egypt (ARCE). He is fluent in Arabic, and teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on the modern Middle East, Muslim history, and World History.
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Dear Professor Anderson,
I am a journalist in Washington, DC, working for London-based Saudi “Almajalla/Asharq Alawsat” publications, and have just seen your comments, published last july, about Dina Heshmat’s book about Egypt, then found about your last year’s book, “The Egyptian Labor Corps.”
Of course, your book has been reviewed before, but I would like to ask you a few questions about it, to continue the discussion, so to speak.
(You can refer me to links or websites, or talk on the phone: 703-625-4179).
1. What made you plan to write the book, in the first place?
2. How did your research take you to many countries? (and to Sabit Harun Mohamed’s grave?)
3. “Slavery” is a strong word to describe what happened. Or it isn’t?
4. You wrote that the Black Lives Matter’s movement had an impact on your writing the book. Please explain.
5. You wrote about being looked at in Egypt as a “khawaja” (white man). Was that the stereotype “White Guilt” that affected your writing?
6. Still, some Egyptians criticized you for “exploiting” them for this “guilt”. And for transferring the American race theories and practices to a “raceless” country.
7. You avoided describing the Egyptians as “black” and used “people of color”. Isn’t this, also, alien to them, as to Arabs who live in the U.S?
8. How did the ELC experience contribute to the nationalist movement of 1919?
9. Commenting on Heshmat’s book, you wrote: “When the 1919 revolution took place, the people of Qina did not share in the romantic nationalism.” Isn’t a revolution usually a “totalizing story about national unity centered in (cities)”?
10. What do you think of arguments that Western colonialism (here British in Egypt), also, contributed to the political, economic and social advancement of the colonized?
Thanks and regards.
Mohammad Ali Salih