EUME Berliner Seminar
Mi 13 Mai 2020 | 14:00–15:30

The Industrial Man: Development, Productivity, and the Rise of Management in Egypt, 1940s–1960s

Malak Labib (EUME Fellow of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation 2018-20), Chair: Nurçin İleri (EUME Fellow 2019/20)

In 1950, the International Labor Organization’s (ILO) field officer, A. F. Rouse, visited Egypt for a two-month mission, in order to study the country’s “manpower problems.” The list of problems he identified was long, and it included overpopulation and underemployment, the uncompetitive state of industry in the postwar years, and labor redundancy in factories. “The reduction of the production costs in industry by increased efficiency,” the British expert argued, was a key precondition for any successful industrialization program.
This talk focuses on the rise of labor management as a field of expertise and practice in Egypt, from the early debates on development planning in the 1940s, to the rise of a large public sector, in the 1960s. It follows the interactions between various actors, including ILO and Ford Foundation consultants, Egyptian policymakers, and managers of state-controlled enterprises. In doing so, this talk examines the shifting dynamics of circulation and appropriation of management knowledge, while also exploring the ways in which economic planning was intertwined with ideas of social engineering, by looking at the development of specific management practices in public sector companies. 

Malak Labib received her doctorate from Aix-Marseille University / Institut de Recherche sur le Monde Arabe et Musulman (2015) and her MA from Sciences Po Paris (2005). Her background is in History and Political Science. Her research interests cover history knowledge and science, political economy and the history of development. In 2018, she was a CEDEJ/CNRS postdoctoral fellow. She taught at Aix-Marseille University, the American University in Cairo, and Cairo University. She has also been active in a number of alternative teaching initiatives in Egypt. From 2008 to 2010, she was a research fellow at the Economic and Business History Research Center of the American University in Cairo. During the academic years 2018/2019 and 2019/2020, she will be a EUME Fellow funded by a Research Fellowship of the Fritz Thyssen Foundation and associated with the Center for Global History at Freie Universität Berlin.


In accordance with the measures against the spread of the coronavirus, this seminar session will be held virtually. Depending on approval by the speakers, the Berliner Seminar will be recorded. All audio recordings of the Berliner Seminar are available via the account of the Forum Transregionale Studien on Soundcloud.

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