Nancy Reynolds

​Associate Professor of History and of Jewish, Islamic, and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures; Affiliate Faculty of Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; Director of Graduate Studies in History
PhD, Stanford University
MA, Stanford University
BA, Harvard University
research interests:
  • Social and Cultural History of the Modern Middle East
  • Commerce and Consumption in 20th Century Egypt
  • Urban and Environmental History

contact info:

office hours:

  • Wednesday 12:30 - 2:30 PM

mailing address:

  • WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY
  • CB 1062
  • ONE BROOKINGS DR.
  • ST. LOUIS, MO 63130-4899

​Professor Reynolds has written extensively on 20th century Egyptian history. Her recent courses include "Egypt and the Arab Spring: Middle Eastern Revolution in Historical Perspective" and "Women in the Modern Middle East."

For more information, visit Nancy Reynolds's department profile.

A City Consumed

A City Consumed

Though now remembered as an act of anti-colonial protest leading to the Egyptian military coup of 1952, the Cairo Fire that burned through downtown stores and businesses appeared to many at the time as an act of urban self-destruction and national suicide. The logic behind this latter view has now been largely lost. Offering a revised history, Nancy Reynolds looks to the decades leading up to the fire to show that the lines between foreign and native in city space and commercial merchandise were never so starkly drawn.
Consumer goods occupied an uneasy place on anti-colonial agendas for decades in Egypt before the great Cairo Fire. Nationalist leaders frequently railed against commerce as a form of colonial captivity, yet simultaneously expanded local production and consumption to anchor a newly independent economy. Close examination of struggles over dress and shopping reveals that nationhood coalesced informally from the conflicts and collaboration of consumers "from below" as well as more institutional and prescriptive mandates.