Reynolds named ACLS fellow

Nancy Reynolds, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of History in Arts & Sciences, has received an American Council of Learned Societies’ fellowship to study the impact of Egypt’s construction of the High Dam on its culture and society.

Reynolds plans to travel to Egypt next year to document and analyze the cultural and social history of the Aswan dam, which gave Egypt hydrological control of the Nile within its boundaries for the first time. President Gamal Abdel Nasser’s 1956 nationalization of the Suez Canal to pay for the construction after the withdrawal of Western funding became one of the most dramatic acts of global decolonization.

The construction reordered much of the southern Egyptian landscape, required the relocation of 100,000 Nubians in Egypt and Sudan, prompted a series of architectural, ethnographic, and geological surveys, launched new forms of consumption and commercialized commemoration, and symbolized a rupture with the past that reverberated through social practices, including the status of women, the role of religion and forms of residential building.

“This domestic history can tell us a more nuanced story about civic participation and environmental manipulation under authoritarian military regimes,” Reynolds says. “My work will focus on how large-scale development projects like the dam mobilized citizens in specific, material ways that had lasting effects on urban and rural communities.”