Paul Sedra is Associate Professor of History at Simon Fraser University. A specialist in modern Egyptian history and Christian-Muslim relations, Sedra has taught at Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, and received his doctorate from New York University in January 2006. His most recent book, From Mission to Modernity: Evangelicals, Reformers and Education in Nineteenth-Century Egypt, is published by I.B. Tauris. For background on the book, please view the interview here.
Sedra is a prolific commentator on contemporary Egypt, Christian-Muslim relations, Canadian policy in the Middle East, and Middle East politics generally. His op-eds appear regularly in Egypt Independent and Jadaliyya, and he has furnished analysis to such media outlets as Al-Jazeera English, CTV, CBC Radio, the Associated Press, and The Globe and Mail.
After attending the high school attached to the University of Toronto’s education faculty, I headed south of the border for my undergraduate work, and began the long, arduous process of learning Arabic at Princeton University. In my senior year at Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School, my thesis project involved a summer of interviews with Egyptian public figures on Coptic-Muslim relations.
On graduating Phi Beta Kappa in international affairs at Princeton, I was awarded the Commonwealth Scholarship for study towards a Master’s degree at Oxford University. A chance discovery at the Church Missionary Society archives in Birmingham prompted a shift of focus from Egyptian politics to Egyptian history, and my master’s thesis would address the activities of nineteenth-century Anglican missionaries in Cairo. I was enticed back to the United States by New York University’s pioneering joint program in History and Middle Eastern studies, developed by Michael Gilsenan and Zachary Lockman. NYU’s MacCracken Fellowship permitted two years of fieldwork in Cairo and London, after which I ended up once again in Toronto, writing up the doctoral dissertation and teaching at the University of Toronto. I defended the dissertation in late 2005, by which point I had taken up an Assistant Professorship in History at Dalhousie University. In 2006, I made the move from coast to coast, and assumed my current post at SFU.
SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, Tenured Associate Professor, Department of History, 2011 to date.
SIMON FRASER UNIVERSITY, Tenure-Track Assistant Professor, Department of History, 2006-2011.
DALHOUSIE UNIVERSITY, Assistant Professor, Department of History, 2005-2006.
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO, Lecturer, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, 2003-2005.
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, Ph.D., Joint Program in History and Middle Eastern Studies, January 2006.
- Doctoral dissertation: Textbook Maneuvers: Evangelicals and Educational Reform in Nineteenth-Century Egypt.
- Dissertation supervisor: Professor Khaled Fahmy, Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies.
- Major fields: (1) modern Middle Eastern history and (2) modern European history.
OXFORD UNIVERSITY, M.Phil., Modern Middle Eastern Studies, October 1999.
- Master’s thesis: John Lieder and his Mission in Egypt: The Evangelical Ethos at Work Among Nineteenth-Century Copts.
- Thesis supervisor: Dr. Eugene Rogan, Director of the Middle East Center at St. Antony’s College.
PRINCETON UNIVERSITY, A.B., Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, June 1997.
Associate Editor, Review of Middle East Studies (formerly the MESA Bulletin), 2012-2014.
Editor, Middle East section, History Compass (a Wiley-Blackwell journal), 2009-2013.
Co-Organizer (with Dr. Tamir Moustafa, School for International Studies, SFU) of international workshop on ‘The Decline of Secularism in Egypt,’ Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, August 13-15, 2008.
Reviewer of book manuscripts for Brill, Cambridge University Press, Palgrave Macmillan, Stanford University Press, University of Chicago Press, University of California Press, and University of Utah Press.
Reviewer of article manuscripts for Gender and History, Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Reinvention, Middle East Journal, Journal of Immigrant and Refugee Studies, Journal of Development Studies, International Migration, Arab Studies Journal, Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, American Ethnologist, European Education, Paedagogica Historica, Comparative Studies in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East, Journal of Religious History, and International Journal of Middle East Studies.
Reviewer of grant applications for the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council.
Board Member, Canadian Council of Area Studies Learned Societies, 2006-2008.
Board Member, Canadian Association of Middle Eastern Studies, 2006-2008.