Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Awards

Hannah Elsisi Ashmawi

University of Oxford, Faculty of History

2020 Winner (Humanities)

Hannah Elsisi Ashmawi

Hannah Elsisi Ashmawi

Muʿtaqal Machine: Power, Gender and Identity in Egypt’s Political Prisons, 1948-1981

The Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award committee unanimously chose Hannah Elsisi Ashmawi’s Muʿtaqal Machine: Power, Gender and Identity in Egypt’s Political Prisons, 1948-1981 (University of Oxford, Faculty of History) as the best humanities dissertation. Timely, theoretically sophisticated, meticulously researched, highly courageous and ethically committed “Muʿtaqal Machine” examines the role of gender as a site of contestation in Egyptian political imprisonment, which leaves its imprint on Egyptian culture and society. The author shows how prison authorities use gender to strip prisoners of their identity, as individuals, parents, and spouses, and how prisoners employ gender to maintain their personhood and human dignity. The author meticulously weaves in a careful reading of prison journals, photographs and interviews. Her empathy and respect for her research subjects particularly impressed the committee. The work’s innovative theoretical and methodological framework can serve as a model for scholars in other fields.  

Dissertation Examiners Committee: Prof. Marylin Booth and Prof. John Chalcraft 
Supervisors: Prof. Robert Gildea and Dr. Lucie Ryzova

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