When you heard the protest songs and saw the signs in the streets, and looked at how public space transformed, it became apparent that the archive was everywhere and its mediums were diverse. So ultimately my draw to history was living through histor(ies) in the making and thinking about what historians of the future would write about these moments. One of the most exciting things about studying modern Coptic history is that there is so much that has yet to be written about it.
The Coptic Church has survived through centuries of difficulty in great part because of its ability to adapt. Should its clerical leadership devise alternate means of administering the Eucharist, its own rich past shows how this rite has changed over time and how different approaches might protect the health of clergy, parishioners, and community without compromising its core beliefs.
At the heart of such debates, past and present, is the tremendous influence of Pope Shenouda and the many meanings of belonging to the Coptic Orthodox Church of Egypt. In order to chart this history and offer insights on its contemporary significance, we begin with the challenges faced by early Copts in North America and then outline the changing nature of Coptic diasporic communities as a consequence of rising immigration from Upper Egypt, following the 2011 revolution.
As a modern Egypt scholar, I aim to empower Copts as actors in their own narratives rather than subjects within geopolitical discourse. I write to normalize Copts’ Egyptianness, without placing them in a separate category as a ‘minority’.
Future projects share a common goal: to contend that though national, ethnic, and religious identities have shaped people’s lives in powerful ways, immigrants based their actions on a selective reading of such ideologies that was most often expressed in choices to live their own kind of transcultural lives.