Photo of Zeinab Abul-Magd
  • Associate Professor of History
  • Chair of International Studies


  • BS in political science, Cairo University, 1996
  • MA in Arab studies & Islamic law, Georgetown University, 2003
  • PhD, Georgetown University, 2008


Zeinab Abul-Magd is an Associate Professor of Middle Eastern history. She received her PhD in history and political economy from Georgetown University, in 2008, and her MA in Arab Studies and Islamic Law also from Georgetown University, in 2003. She received her B.S. in Political Science from Cairo University, Egypt, in 1996. She specializes in the socio-economic and military histories of the Middle East, from the rise of Islam until the present day.

Her classes at Oberlin College cover a wide range of topics relevant to Middle Eastern classical and modern history, as well as contemporary realities. They include

  •  Wars, borders, and displacement in the Middle East
  •  State, Empire, and Revolution in the Middle East
  •  Militaries, Militias, and Jihad in the Middle East
  •  Colonial and Post-Colonial State Formation and Transformations in the Middle East
  • Globalization and its Discontents in the Middle East
  • U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East
  • Economic History of the early modern and modern Middle East
  • Islamic Law & Society (focusing on women and gender and holy wars) 

Her recent books include Militarizing the Nation: The Army, Business, and Revolution in Egypt, 1952-2015 (New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2016), and Businessmen in Arms: How the Military and Other Armed Groups Profit in the MENA Region, co-editor with Elke Grawert (New York: Rowman & Littlefield, 2016). Her first book, Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), is the winner of MESA’s Roger Owen Book Award in economic history in 2015, and its Arabic translation is titled Imbraturiyyat Mutakhayalla: Tarikh al-Thawra fi Sa‘id Misr, 1500-2011 (Cairo: The National Council of Translation, 2015).


  • Zeinab Abul-Magd Receives Book Award

    November 24, 2015

    Associate Professor of History Zeinab Abul-Magd was awarded the Roger Owen Book Award for her book Imagined Empires: A History of Revolt in Egypt at the 2015 Middle East Studies Association (MESA) Annual Meeting November 21-24 in Denver.

    The Roger Owen book award is a biennial award and the highest recognition for books produced in Middle East studies with a special focus on economic history, economics, and political economy of the Middle East and North Africa. It is one of only two book awards presented by MESA.