Imperial Bodies
Empire and Death in Alexandria, Egypt
Shana Minkin



The Imperial Bodies of Alexandria

“ON THE 10TH OF MAY LAST, Mr. John Engell, a German subject, reported that Miss Gertrude Beasley Woodward, a British subject, had that day died of typhoid fever in lodgings in Alexandria,” wrote Alexandrian British consul Edward Gould to Lord Cromer, British consul general of Egypt, in June 1899. Gould continued: “This was the first that anyone at the consulate had heard of the case. Arrangements were at once made for the funeral[,] which took place on the same day at the European cemetery.”1

Alexandria of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was home to thousands of British, French, and other European imperial subjects. Wealthy and destitute, permanent and temporary residents, they lived far from their homelands. And when they died, consulates sprang into action, accounting for, burying, and documenting the imperial dead.

And so it was with Gertrude Beasley Woodward. The flurry of activity surrounding the burial and processing of Woodward’s death revolved around the consulate. Consular employees arranged for a religious funeral, purchased a plot in a communal cemetery, and paid for her death registration.2 They located the doctor who cared for her to ascertain that not only had she died of typhoid as reported but that the doctor and others who cared for Woodward treated her with dignity in her final days. The consular employees pieced together the story of her Egyptian life, including her work as a barmaid; her German fiancé, Mr. Engell; her Greek landlord; and her Arab doctor.3

By centering on the imperial dead, this book takes the end of life as a purposeful, public foundation of political and social community.4 Death is both a local phenomenon—people die in Alexandria and are buried in the city—and a transnational, transimperial one in that the imperial dead had roots elsewhere, including family, friends, and property across the ocean or across the desert. In managing death, consulates marshaled the social belonging of foreign nationals in Alexandria and put it to political use. In doing so, they also inscribed that belonging as empire’s belonging in Egypt.

International treaties had guaranteed consulates jurisdiction over the bodies of foreign subjects in death as in life.5 Yet consulates repeatedly relied on the Egyptian national government to do its job.6 European consular officials regularly entreated the Egyptian government for land and financial resources for their hospitals and cemeteries and for control over the documenting of their dead. The protracted, and not always successful, negotiations they undertook to secure those resources and that control point to the imperial powers as beholden to the decisions of the Egyptian administration. Inquiring into this apparent beholdenness, Imperial Bodies uses British, Egyptian, and French archives to examine the unevenness of imperial power and apparent robustness of Egyptian governmental authority in matters of death and dying. The management of death among foreign nationals in Alexandria in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries revises our understanding of the relation both between imperial governments—here the British and the French—and with the Egyptian state. It reaffirms that the British were never the sole power in Egypt and that the French never fully relinquished their claim to imperial space in Egypt, despite lacking territorial control. Moreover, this book reveals the continued role of the Egyptian national government in vital decisions about the resources and land needed to care for the dead. This book thus demonstrates that in regard to the mundanity of the day to day, of protecting national and imperial subjects in Egypt, imperial power asserted itself not through unilateral assertions of the colonial state but through the local consulate’s attenuated claims of belonging. In this peculiar reversal, empire, rather than claim the colonized state as belonging to it, presents itself as belonging to the colonized state.


Egypt went through a series of political, social, and infrastructural changes in the nineteenth century that consolidated state power in the hands of a hereditary ruling family. A province of the Ottoman Empire, Egypt became a semiautonomous land under Mehmed ʿAli by the mid-1800s and continued to be ruled by his descendants until 1952.

Over the course of the first half of the nineteenth century, Mehmed ʿAli restructured the state via broad infrastructure projects. These included the Mahmudiyya canal, which connected the Mediterranean to the Nile, along with an extensive system of new agricultural irrigation canals, a new medical system inspired by French medical practices, a revamped education system that was also reorganized along French practices, and the overhaul of the Egyptian army, including the institution of a draft that fundamentally altered the relationship of state to individual.7 This last project precipitated several successful military campaigns, such as those in Greece, Sudan, and Syria, both for the Ottoman state and to challenge it.

Mehmed ʿAli’s reign saw tremendous growth for Alexandria as well. The Mahmudiyya canal, while built at immense cost to human life, eventually revitalized the port city entirely; it grew from a tiny hamlet of approximately 5,000 people at the turn of the nineteenth century to more than 104,000 inhabitants around the time of Mehmed ʿAli’s death at the end of the 1840s.8 With the growth of the city came the development of its economy, and with the new monetary opportunities, a small, but steadily growing, foreign-national population emerged, numbering nearly 5,000 in 1848.9 Foreign consulates also sprang up throughout the city during the first half of the century, formalizing diplomatic relations and international presence. These consulates honed their power through the expansion of trade protection to both national subjects and those who succeeded in gaining diplomatic shelter and legal backing through the Capitulations, a series of primarily trade agreements between the Ottoman Empire and the European powers dating back to the sixteenth century.

By the time Khedive Ismaʿil ascended to rule in 1863, Egypt was embroiled in growing infrastructure and growing debts. Ismaʿil’s sixteen-year reign would be marked by ever-increasing attempts at “Europeanization” in municipal planning and government structure, excessive spending, and eventual bankruptcy. The opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 came at great financial and political cost to Egypt, even as it created enormous trade and economic opportunities.10 The massive overhaul of the state left the government bound to European creditors. Their increasing demands, spearheaded by the British and the French, led to the establishment of European financial oversight through the Caisse de la Dette Publique in the 1870s.11 Additional compromises included the installation of one British and one French overseer in charge of ensuring the repayment of debts through revenues collected from the Alexandria Port, among other places.12 Eventually, European creditors, backed by their governments, forced Khedive Ismaʿil to abdicate his rule in favor of his son, Tawfiq (1879–1892). Important to our story in this short overview is the dominance of European imperial powers in Egypt before the onslaught of British colonization in the 1880s. Indeed, Alexandria’s foreign-national population had grown to almost 43,000 people by 1878, out of a population of approximately 220,000.13 Foreign nationals now accounted for nearly 20 percent of the population. Informal empire permeated the country long before the 1882 British occupation; Egypt was already under the influence of multiple European empires, with Britain and France together at the helm.14 It is within this time frame, beginning with the rise of the khedive in the early 1860s, that this book begins.

The ʿUrabi rebellion precipitated direct British occupation of Egypt. Led by Ahmed ʿUrabi, a colonel in the Egyptian army, the rebellion marked the first organized effort within the Egyptian army to challenge the Ottoman/Egyptian hierarchy and the Europeans who supported it. ʿUrabi’s installation as war minister, after a skirmish with the sitting Egyptian government, as well as his subsequent dismissal after the maneuverings of European powers, occasioned both a growing popular movement and outbursts of violence.15 Rioting in the summer of 1882 killed approximately fifty foreign nationals and up to three thousand Ottoman/Egyptians.

While both the British and the French were alarmed by the ʿUrabi movement, the British alone bombarded Alexandria in July 1882, moving from being one of the financial imperial powers to the sole governing colonial power of Egypt.16 Following the riots and bombardment, the foreign-national population of Alexandria spent years trying to recoup losses; the imperial archives are full of files marking claims of monetary and property damage.17 While the ʿUrabi revolt and subsequent British occupation were undoubtedly a time of great fear and turmoil for the population of Egypt—both foreign national and Ottoman/Egyptian—it did not represent a transformation in the day-to-day governance of Alexandria.18

Over the next several decades, the British remained in Egypt, taking over most facets of the government. It has long been accepted historical knowledge that the British were the rulers of Egypt after the occupation and that the Egyptian national government had minimal powers without independent authority in governance.19 Yet Egypt remained a “veiled protectorate,” wherein the facade of Ottoman imperial governance was key for maintaining the balance of international relations with the Ottomans and within Europe.

That the British were colonial rulers of Egypt, even under a veiled protectorate, was complicated by the ongoing diplomatic relationship between the British and Ottoman Empires. Recent scholarship argues that the British never had any intention of cutting Ottoman ties to Egypt; rather, the original plan for the British occupation was to maintain Ottoman territorial sovereignty while limiting Ottoman governmental access.20 At the same time, the British believed that they would be in Egypt for a short stay, revamping the government structure and leaving as quickly as possible.21 It is this continuing relationship between the British and the Ottomans, as well as the lack of immediate commitment to a long-term project by the British, that accounts for the structure of British colonial rule in Egypt. Lord Cromer was agent and consul general of Egypt, marking him as subordinate to the British ambassador in Istanbul.

Despite the diplomatic power hierarchy, Lord Cromer rarely appears in the British consular records or communications with the Egyptian and French governments consulted for this book; the sultan and Ottoman government in Istanbul are missing as well.22 The day-to-day work of empire was done at the consular level and in negotiation with the Egyptian national government.

While the British may have hoped to leave Egypt quickly, they were soon entrenched as quasi-colonial rulers. The unofficial incorporation of Egypt into the British Empire had international as well as domestic ramifications. It allowed Britain more control of the route to and from India via the Suez Canal.23 Pilgrims to Mecca also flowed through Egypt; British control of the state was a key to control of the empire’s Muslim population.24 Egypt served as a space for financial experimentation, where the British government could flex its economic muscles in an increasingly global capitalist market under large-scale projects marked as “public utility.”25 The boundaries of Egypt were negotiated and settled under British control, as the “Egyptian West” was brought under government jurisdiction through a series of complicated judicial and legal negotiations with local tribes and other regional actors.26 Years of British rule and the emerging nationalist movement wrought new forms of social and political organization, gender stratification, cultural cognizance, educational priorities, public health, and more.27 Egypt under Cromer saw an explosion of public works projects and other efforts to advance infrastructure and the economy. Yet it was also a country of strikes and increasing public agitation by Egyptians and lower-class migrants and a country ruled by colonial discrimination and outbursts of violence.28 In short, Egypt was a country in flux.

Although it was the only governing colonial power, British rule was never British alone. Continental European powers could and did limit what the British could do, and other foreign governments tussled for relevance and power throughout the end of the nineteenth century and start of the twentieth. However, it was France, Britain’s greatest imperial competitor in the European scramble for overseas influence, that was firmly ensconced as a cultural influencer and as the key country involved in the industry, legal reforms, and finance of Egypt.29 Long after the defeat of Napoleon’s army in Egypt in 1803, a French developer spearheaded construction of the Suez Canal, completed in 1869; a French diplomat worked with Lord Cromer on saving Egypt’s finances; French law formed a crux of the Mixed Court system in 1876; and French diplomats at all levels continued to challenge British rule in Egypt.30 This book, concerned as it is with the building and maintenance of imperial power, places the British and French Empires and related Protestant and Catholic institutions at the center of the story.

Alexandria as a site for inquiry reveals the interweaving of these European empires, as well as the multiplicity of other communities, and the myriad and overlapping affiliations and forms of governance that were at play in Egypt and elsewhere at the end of the nineteenth century.31 The city grew as migrants arrived from all over Egypt and the world, migrants both of upper and lower economic classes, and continued to grow through the first decades of the twentieth century.

Within a few years of the start of the British occupation, a khedival decree created the new Alexandria municipality, replacing an ineffective system in which the national government appointed administrators and committees to govern the city.32 The municipality was specifically designed to incorporate multiple nationalities; no more than three men of the same nationality could serve on the early municipal council at once, ensuring that there would always be at least five different, unspecified nationalities represented within the governing body. The municipality was more concerned with European neighborhoods and economic growth than with the indigenous and poor populations.33

Egypt remained an autonomous province of the Ottoman Empire until 1914, under British control, until the British declared a formal protectorate over Egypt at the start of World War I. This book ends its exploration of death and empire in Egypt at the end of the veiled protectorate, right before World War I brought not only a different colonial governing system but also an overflow of wartime refugees to Alexandria.


Rich and poor, Muslim, Jewish, and Christian, connected to colonial rule and lost to the archives, European imperial subjects and citizens traipsed through Alexandria throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Many of these foreign nationals were permanent residents, representing generations in the city, never living or dreaming of elsewhere.34 Others were passing through, temporary workers or travelers. Some were intimately engaged with the political, economic, and social needs of both Alexandria and their national or religious communities, while others existed seemingly beyond the reach of the municipality, the imperial consulates, and the colonial state. But all of them benefited from being affiliated with imperial rule. Their ability to travel, to settle in the city, to get jobs, and find opportunities were all linked to this era when the European scramble for global supremacy included dominance over the Ottoman Empire and the nascent Egyptian nationalist state.

This era is commonly known as the age of “cosmopolitan” Alexandria (ca. 1860–1960). A multitude of scholars celebrate the city’s European population and orientation as “the paradigm case of Middle Eastern cosmopolitanism . . . the stuff of subsequent nostalgia.”35 The framing of Alexandria as cosmopolitan saturates writings of the city: memoirs, literature, nostalgic monographs, and academic studies abound.36 Many of them pointedly posit cosmopolitanism to mean a city that was more European than Egyptian, resulting in something lost when the era of colonization ended harshly in the 1950s, marking the city’s grandeur as inherently incompatible with Egyptian national rule.37 Others look at the cosmopolitan era as a time that produced a boom in infrastructure and governance development.38 These versions of cosmopolitanism in Alexandria are almost always synonymous with the elite, and the lower classes and Ottoman/Egyptian natives are largely ignored.39

Not all writing on nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Alexandria relies on the framework of an elite-driven cosmopolitan city. Highlighting the lower socioeconomic classes or insisting on the lens of the indigenous Egyptian Muslim population shifts the narrative of the city, but often does so while maintaining engagement with the framework of cosmopolitanism, “vulgar” or otherwise delineated.40 Other scholars are increasingly embracing the messiness and subtleties of the broad range of imperial affiliations before legal codification of nationalities, when empire allowed people to move through actual and “jurisdictional” borders with relative ease.41

The migratory possibilities of empire that resulted in so many foreign dead in Alexandria were largely and unsurprisingly limited to Europeans and those with European protection.42 That these imperial migrants often lived far beyond their consulates, associating with them when it was of benefit and keeping distance otherwise, is also not surprising; indeed, this was common practice in Alexandria and elsewhere.43 It is impossible—and would be irresponsible—to write a history of the city, of the building of empire within Alexandria, without acknowledging the power dynamic that privileged these European imperial citizens and subjects. Yet it is equally impossible—and equally irresponsible—to assume that they were necessarily foreigners to the city, any more or less a vital part of Alexandria’s story than the Ottoman/Egyptian Muslim native who may have been from anywhere in Egypt.44 To write these others—here meaning both foreign-national citizens and subjects as well as religious minorities—as more or less of Alexandria or Egypt than any other category of people is to impose a teleological story on the city, ending in either Egyptian nationalist rule or ruin with the end of empire.45

Like other places touched by the mobility and movement of Europe across the globe in the nineteenth century, Alexandria was a transimperial, multiempire port. Whereas I use “multiempire” to signify the various imperial powers that had interests in Alexandria, I use “transimperial” to signify the imperial subjects of Alexandria, who were simultaneously constructing and constructed by the categories of imperial governance.46 Rather than try to capture them within the framework of “cosmopolitan,” “transimperial” allows me to probe the networks of mobility they represented, even when firmly ensconced for generations in Alexandria. These networks were inherently uneven and unequal; class, gender, and religion mattered, as did access to colonial governance and resources.47 Imperial networks spanned the western desert of Egypt across North Africa, sailed the Mediterranean and the English Channel into continental Europe and Great Britain, and passed through the Suez Canal to reach India quickly. Imperial networks were equally grounded in Alexandria, within a decidedly local community of imperial and native subjects. Their diversity and specificity are part and parcel of empire, which was always created as much by local permutations as by international agreements or decisions made in European metropoles.

People crossed borders with relative ease throughout the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Middle East and beyond. Empire facilitated the mobility of populations and goods, providing for protection and legal coverage across oceans and deserts. The ambiguity of the time, when legal categories had specific benefits but lacked definitive boundaries, led travelers, businesspeople, religious pilgrims, missionaries, and others to travel across boundaries or to settle abroad. Local indigenous populations, often the religious minorities, used the protections laid out in diplomatic agreements to request affiliation with foreign consulates. Needing to differentiate among the peoples under its control or asking for its protection, empire was a system of divisiveness, of creating, fostering, exacerbating, reproducing, and enforcing difference in its reach and benefits.48 These empires were based on differentiation, both from without, in their concern with who was not an imperial subject, and from within, in their focus on subject versus citizen. They functioned by aligning themselves with religion, even as empires might work to distinguish between those in a country such as Egypt to proselytize and those who were there for economic or other reasons. Empire in this sense was a struggle for the classification of peoples and control over governance and resources. That control occurred both within and between empires. Empire, while built from above in military and diplomatic victories, was insinuated, made a part of the daily life, on the ground. The social implications of this reached far beyond simply a territorial phenomenon or an economic endeavor.49

In this way, each imperial space was a unique representation of the people and goods that migrated there, combined with the specificity of the local space. Empire, then, did not mean the same thing in any two places; it was always a locally constituted experience.50 It was a product of the web of networks and connections that predated it and were created and manipulated by it. Shaped by the local and the metropole, empires were equally engaged with and formed by interactions with each other. People cajoled and manipulated categories created to control and classify them and, in the process, claimed local resources and places to establish a foothold in both physical and imaginative space. Institutions such as local consulates, which worked both with imperial power from imperial metropoles and within the constraints of their local setting, demonstrate the ways in which empire was both implemented and developed in the immediate surroundings.

The multiple foreign consulates and powerful, long-established foreign communities in Alexandria were integrated as local players in the city under both Ottoman and British rule. They are the heart of the overlapping layers of governance that resulted in this transimperial, multiempire city. This interplay of consulates is key to understanding not only the history of the Egyptian state but also the various conditions under which different empires were formed, both from above, such as through high-level negotiations and international agreements, and on the ground, such as through the mourning, documenting, and burial of bodies.

In Alexandria, the British and French used the power of the consulate in the creation and manipulation of categories of the population. This enabled them to engage in governance in Egypt, as an overseas empire and as a nonterritorial empire, respectively. Consulates were the implementation both of empire and of active, vital local resources.


1. Copy of memo from British Consul Edward Gould to Lord Cromer, 10 June 1899, estate of Miss Gertrude Beasley Woodward deceased, 1899, FO 857/29/28, TNA.

2. Estate of Miss Gertrude Beasley Woodward deceased, 1899, FO 857/29/28, TNA.

3. The consulate even engaged itself with her family’s concerns. When her family in England accused Engell of stealing from her, it was employees of the British Consulate who tracked him down, “in true Sherlock Holmes fashion,” interrogated him, located the pawn shops he used, and bought back her jewelry for her father. Equally noteworthy is that the consulate chose not to pursue actions against Engell. The doctor and others noted that while Engell had trouble paying his bills (and was therefore untrustworthy), he had cared for her diligently and lovingly through her sickness and death. Quote from Letter from Cameron, Consul of Port Said, to Gould, Consul of Alexandria, 25 June 1899, estate of Miss Gertrude Beasley Woodward deceased, 1899, FO 857/29/28, TNA.

4. This is a guiding principle in the field of death studies, where scholars from a wide variety of disciplines use death to study broad overviews of societal and political change and values. These are a few books of death studies that have influenced my thinking: V. Brown, Reaper’s Garden; Faust, Republic of Suffering; Ho, Graves of Tarim; Kellehear, A Social History of Dying; Kselman, Death and the Afterlife; Laqueur, Work of the Dead; and Verdery, Political Lives. Two recent works offer overviews of the changing field of death studies: Malone, “New Life”; and Minkin, “History from Six-Feet Below.”

5. See, e.g., the 1847 Orders of the Ottoman Porte about the protection of Protestants. L. Hertslet, A Complete Collection of Treaties, 11:551. The Hertslet volumes, published regularly by the British Foreign Office, were compiled by Lewis Hertslet through 1864 and thereafter by Sir Edward Hertslet for the remainder of the nineteenth century.

6. By Egyptian or Egyptian national government, I am referring to the khedive, the Council of Ministers and the included ministries, and the various commissions and departments that, while in flux, made up the national Egyptian government both before and after the British occupation. For more, see Goldschmidt and Johnston, Historical Dictionary of Egypt.

Although Egypt was nominally still a part of the Ottoman Empire at this time, I do not use the term “Ottoman Egyptian” in regard to the government because the Ottoman government in Istanbul was irrelevant to the realms in which the Egyptian national government exercised power discussed in this book. I do at times refer to the indigenous local population as “Ottoman/Egyptian” to signify that “Egyptian” was not yet a legal category of national classification.

7. Jennifer Derr writes that the revamped irrigation systems altered the agricultural capabilities of the state, precipitating the explosion of the cotton market that led to so much economic growth. Derr, “Labor-Time.” For more on the military and the rise of the individual, see K. Fahmy, All the Pasha’s Men.

8. Michael Reimer writes that “the efflorescence of Alexandria in the latter half of the nineteenth century is inconceivable apart from the water supply and improved communication made available by the Mahmudiyya canal.” Reimer, Colonial Bridgehead, 59 (for quote), 90 (for population numbers).

9. Ibid., 93.

10. The original agreement negotiated between Saʿid Pasha and Count De Lesseps was a terrible agreement for Egypt from the beginning; Khedive Ismaʿil came to power stuck with the ramifications. Owen, World Economy, 123–127.

11. Roger Owen argues that this work shaped Cromer’s engagement with Egypt and his thinking about Egyptian sovereignty. Owen, Lord Cromer, esp. chaps. 7, 8, 10, 11.

12. Owen, World Economy, esp. chap. 5.

13. Reimer, Colonial Bridgehead, 110, 160.

14. Cole, Colonialism and Revolution. Juan Cole is responding to Robinson and Gallagher, Africa and the Victorians. See also Mitchell, Colonising Egypt; and Todd, “Beneath Sovereignty.”

15. That 1882 revolved around “foreign” and “local” clashes is generally accepted, although historians debate what “foreign” and “local” meant at the time. For one of the most intriguing discussions of foreign and local in late nineteenth-century Alexandria, see Khuri-Makdisi, Global Radicalism.

16. Nineteenth-century French politician François Deloncle harshly critiqued the British bombardment at the time of the invasion. Deloncle, “France and Egypt.” Martin Thomas and Richard Toye argue that the French invasion of Tunisia stymied the ability of the French to respond to the British invasion. Thomas and Toye, Arguing about Empire.

17. See, e.g., FO 78/3733, TNA.

18. David Nirenberg argues that outbursts of violence allow for the diverse society to coexist rather than represent a rupture within it. Nirenberg, Communities of Violence.

19. Tignor, Modernization. Modernization was the standard political history of this time period until the recent work of Aaron Jakes: “State of the Field” and Colonial Economism.

20. Genell, “Empire by Law.”

21. Owen, Lord Cromer.

22. Exceptions include times when the family writes to Lord Cromer, who then passes the letters on, such as the family of Gertrude Beasley Woodward did. Estate of Miss Gertrude Beasley Woodward deceased, 1899, FO 857/29/28, TNA.

23. Valeska Huber calls the canal both a “hub and a chokepoint” where those in charge could encourage and stop mobility to, within, and from Egypt. Huber, Channelling Mobilities.

24. Nicholas Roberts, in Islam under the Palestine Mandate, makes a similar argument regarding Palestine.

25. Jakes, “The Scales of Public Utility.”

26. Ellis, “Anomalous Egypt?” and Desert Borderland.

27. The following books highlight some of the key texts of Egyptian nationalism in this time period, loosely divided for pedagogical purposes. For social and political organization, see Barak, On Time; Gasper, The Power of Representation; Hanley, Identifying with Nationality; Ibrahim, “Legitimising Lay and State Authority”; and Omar, “Tensions of Nationalist Modernity.” For gender implications, see Baron, Women’s Awakening; Pollard, Nurturing the Nation; and Russell, New Egyptian Woman. For culture and emerging ideas of Egyptianness, see Bashkin, “My Sister Esther”; Z. Fahmy, Ordinary Egyptians; and Gitre, Acting Egyptian. For education, see Kalmbach, “Training Teachers.” For public health, see Abugideiri, Gender and the Making of Modern Medicine; and Hammad, “Regulating Sexuality.”

28. See, e.g., Beinin and Lockman, Workers on the Nile; Chalcraft, Striking Cabbies; and Abul-Magd, Imagined Empires.

29. The cooperation was not solely diplomatic but also a matter of personalities. Owen, Lord Cromer.

30. Concerning the Suez Canal, see Huber, Channelling Mobilities. British occupation did not end French involvement but instead provided a more stable governing ground from which to increase French economic investment in Egypt; the French had more economic interests in Egypt than the British. Saul, La France et L’Egypte. Likewise, the legal reform that led to the international courts system in the mid-1870s “transformed rather than curtailed French influence” in Egypt. Todd, “Beneath Sovereignty,” 109.

31. See, e.g., Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans; and Mazower, Salonica.

32. The Ornato Commission, created in 1834, held many of the same responsibilities of the municipality; in 1879 a preliminary committee for the municipality took over for Ornato, which was concretized around 1890. The new municipality had twenty-nine members, of whom the Egyptian government appointed fourteen. The remaining fifteen consisted of nine men from export houses, three from import houses, and three general business owners. These fifteen were elected through their business “colleges.” Ilbert, Alexandrie, vol. 1, chap. 5; and Reimer, Colonial Bridgehead.

33. Ilbert, Alexandrie, vol. 1.

34. Ilham Khuri-Makdisi asks, “What was the significance of foreignness, when many of Alexandria’s foreign Greek, Italians, and other workers had known nothing but Egypt?” Khuri-Makdisi, Global Radicalism, 161, emphasis in original.

35. Zubaida, “Cosmopolitanism,” 26.

36. See, e.g., Aciman, Out of Egypt; Durrell, The Alexandria Quartet; Forster, Alexandria; Haag, Alexandria; Ilbert and Yannakakis, Alexandria; and Mansel, Levant. Even books that touch on Alexandria tangentially rely on this stereotype of cosmopolitan Alexandria to describe the city. See Freundschuh, Courtesan and the Gigolo.

37. Jasanoff, “Cosmopolitan.”

38. Ilbert, Alexandrie, vols. 1 and 2.

39. Hanley, “Grieving Cosmopolitanism,” “Cosmopolitan Cursing,” and Identifying with Nationality.

40. Hanley, Identifying with Nationality. See also Driessen, “Mediterranean Port Cities”; K. Fahmy, “For Cavafy,” “Towards a Social History,” “Essence of Alexandria Part I,” and “Essence of Alexandria Part II”; Fuhrmann, “Cosmopolitan Imperialists”; and Mabro, “Alexandria.” For literary criticism of cosmopolitanism, see Halim, Alexandrian Cosmopolitanism; and Starr, Remembering Cosmopolitan Egypt.

41. I borrow the phrasing from Ziad Fahmy in “Jurisdictional Borderlands.” See also Carmanati, “Alexandria 1898.” For the situation outside Alexandria, see Lessersohn, “Provincial Cosmopolitanism”; and Shields, Fezzes in the River.

42. Clancy-Smith, Mediterraneans.

43. Robert Ilbert writes that people used nationality like “credit cards,” pulling out the one that would most benefit them in any given situation. Ilbert, “Citizenship”; and Ilbert and Yannakakis, Alexandria, 25. See also Z. Fahmy, “Jurisdictional Borderlands.” For the situation outside Egypt, see Can, “The Protection Question.”

44. I am inspired by Robert Vitalis’s argument that capital originating in Egypt and concerned with Egypt, regardless of passport, should be considered local capital. Vitalis, When Capitalists Collide, 13.

45. This is prevalent in many Arabic-language histories of foreigners, such as Shalabi, Al-ʿaqaliyat al-ʿirqiyyah. Even Arabic-language work that attempts to argue that all nationalities were integrated into Egypt often insists on inherent, permanent foreignness. See, e.g., Sulayman, Al-ajanib fi Misr; or Rifaʿat al-Imam’s several books on the Armenians in Egypt: Al-Arman fi Misr: Al-qarn at-tasiʿ ʿashar, Tarikh al-Jalia al-ʿ Armaniyya, and Al-Arman fi Misr: 1896–1961. For an argument about teleology and the history of Alexandria, see Hawas, “How Not to Write.”

46. I am borrowing from E. Nathalie Rothman, who writes about early-modern Venetians that “the concept of trans-imperial subjects thus underscores the need to understand the perspective of those who were caught in the web of complex imperial mechanisms but who at the same time were essential to producing the means to calibrate, classify, and demarcate imperial alterities.” Rothman, Brokering Empire, 13.

47. David Lambert and Alan Lester argue that viewing empire through the lens of a network connects metropole to colonies and decentralizes any specific place as the origin of empire. They employ the metaphor of a kaleidoscope to demonstrate that the networks themselves may have been constantly changing and temporary, but the interconnectivity they demonstrated was a constant of empire. Lambert and Lester, Colonial Lives; and Lester, “Imperial Circuits.”

48. Cooper, Colonialism in Question, 11.

49. Cooper and Stoler, Tensions of Empire; and Burbank and Cooper, Empires in World History.

50. Thomas, Colonialism’s Culture. Within Egypt, Eve Troutt Powell beautifully demonstrates the specificities of a place that was both colonized and colonizer. Troutt Powell, A Different Shade of Colonialism.