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Lumbering State, Restless Society: Egypt in the Modern Era with Nathan Brown, Amr Adly & Mona Atia

Lumbering State, Restless Society Egypt in the Modern Era


Lumbering State, Restless Society offers a comprehensive and compelling understanding of modern Egypt. Nathan J. Brown, Shimaa Hatab, and Amr Adly guide readers through crucial developments in Egyptian politics, society, and economics from the middle of the twentieth century through the present. Integrating diverse perspectives and areas of expertise, including the tools of comparative politics, the book provides an accessible and clear introduction to the Egypt of today alongside an innovative and rigorous analysis of the country’s history and governance.


Brown, Hatab, and Adly highlight ways in which Egypt resembles other societies around the world, drawing from and contributing to broader debates in political science. They trace the emergence of a powerful and intrusive state alongside a society that is increasingly politicized, and they emphasize how the rulers and regimes who have built and steered the state apparatus have also had to retreat and recalibrate. The authors also examine why authoritarianism, corporatism, and socialism have decayed without resulting in a liberal democratic order, and they show why Egyptian politics should not be understood in terms of a single dominant force but rather an interplay among many actors. At once current, insightful, and engaging, Lumbering State, Restless Society delivers a powerful and distinctive account of modern Egypt in the modern world.


  • Nathan Brown is Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the George Washington University where he teaches courses on Middle Eastern politics, comparative politics, and international relations. He has previously served as an advisor for the committee drafting the Palestinian constitution, USAID, the United Nations Development Program, and several NGOs. He has been named a Guggenheim Fellow as well as a Carnegie Scholar by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. Dr. Brown's previous research was funded by the United States Institute of Peace and two Fulbright fellowships. He received his Ph.D. in Politics and Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University.

  • Amr Adly is Assistant Professor in the department of political science at The American University in Cairo (AUC). He has worked as a non-resident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, where his research centered on political economy, development studies, and economic sociology of the Middle East, with a focus on Egypt. Dr. Adly is the author of Cleft Capitalism: the Social Origins of Failed Market-Making in Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2020) and State Reform and Development in the Middle East: the Cases of Turkey and Egypt (Routledge, 2012). He has been published in journals such as Geoforum, Business and Politics, Turkish Studies, and Middle Eastern Studies. He received his Ph.D. in Political Economy from the European University Institute in Florence, Italy.

  • Mona Atia is Associate Professor of Geography and International Affairs at the George Washington University and Director of the Institute for Middle East Studies. She is a critical development geographer whose areas of expertise include Islamic charity and finance, philanthropy and humanitarianism, housing/urban development, the production of poverty knowledge and the spatial politics of marginalization.