Concordia University

Wilson Chacko Jacob, PhD

Associate Professor, History

Office: S-LB 1041-19 
J.W. McConnell Building,
1400 De Maisonneuve W.
Phone: (514) 848-2424 ext. 2403

Dr. Jacob completed his Ph.D. in 2005 in the Departments of History and Middle East and Islamic Studies at New York University. After finishing a joint B.S./M.A. program in Arab Studies with a concentration in history at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in 1995, he spent two years travelling, teaching English, and studying in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Egypt. The research for his doctoral dissertation explored the intersections of gender, empire, and modernity in the Egyptian context. A revision of the dissertation resulted in his first book Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870-1940 (Duke University Press; American University in Cairo Press, 2011). He is currently engaged in a new multi-sited research project with two major components both focused on the problem of sovereignty. The first traces the life and career of an itinerant Muslim preacher and descendant of the Prophet across the Indian Ocean through India, Arabia, and the Ottoman Empire in the nineteenth century. This singular lens affords an incredible view onto the transformations in the nature of sovereignty engendered by the expanding governmental powers of empire-states, the British and Ottoman in this case, and the implications thereof for multiple dimensions of life. The second component examines the transformation and criminalization of the traditional urban strongman, al-futuwwa, during the expansion of a semi-colonial, semi-national state in Egypt during the first half of the twentieth century. The research also considers the postcolonial afterlives of these figures.


B.S.F.S. Georgetown University, M.A. Georgetown University, Ph.D. New York University

Research activities

Select research funding

American Research Center in Egypt Fellowship for “Gangsters, Law, and State in the Making of Modern Egypt, 1882-1952”, $22880, 2013-14.

Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Connection Grant for International Workshop Convened at the University of Cambridge, “Cultures and Politics of the Transregional: Sovereignty between Empires and States,” $26981, June 2013.

European Institutes for Advanced Study Fellowship, Center for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities, Clare Hall, University of Cambridge, $47000, 2012-13.

Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Grant for “Sovereignty in Times of Empire: Islam, Preachers, and Gangsters,” $90000, 2010-13. Ranked 1st out of 115 applications to the Interdisciplinary Committee.

FQRSC Nouveau Chercheur Grant for “Islam and the Politics of Presence: “Preachers” and “Gangsters” in the Face of Empire, 1850-1940,” $45000, 2007-2010.


Selected publications

Working Out Egypt: Effendi Masculinity and Subject Formation in Colonial Modernity, 1870-1940. Durham: Duke University Press, 2011; Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2011.

“Transnational History in a Hat: Egypt and Kemalism in the Interwar Years,” in Towards a Transnational History of Kemalism in the Post-Ottoman Space beyond Turkey, eds. Nathalie Clayer, Famio Giomi, and Emmanuel Szurek (forthcoming).

“Revolutionary Mankind: The Time of al-Futuwwa,” Cairo Papers (forthcoming).

 “Conversion Trouble: Gender, Religion, and the Problem of Sovereignty in the Nineteenth Century,” Special Issue 25.3 of Gender and History on Gender and Religion (in production).

“Of Angels and Men: Sayyid Fadl bin Alawi and Two Moments of Sovereignty,” Arab Studies Journal 20, 1 (Spring 2012): 40-73.

“Overcoming Simply Being: Straight Sex, Masculinity, and Physical Culture in Egypt,” Gender and History 22, 3 (November 2010): 1-19.

“Eventful Transformations: Al-Futuwwa between History and the Everyday,” Comparative Studies in Society and History (July 2007): 689-712.

Back to top

© Concordia University