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Can one explain the power of global capitalism without attributing to capital a logic and coherence it does not have? Can one account for the powers of techno-science in terms that do not merely reproduce its own understanding of the world? Rule of Experts examines these questions through a series of interrelated essays focused on Egypt in the twentieth century. These explo Can one explain the power of global capitalism without attributing to capital a logic and coherence it does not have? Can one account for the powers of techno-science in terms that do not merely reproduce its own understanding of the world? Rule of Experts examines these questions through a series of interrelated essays focused on Egypt in the twentieth century. These explore the way malaria, sugar cane, war, and nationalism interacted to produce the techno-politics of the modern Egyptian state; the forms of debt, discipline, and violence that founded the institution of private property; the methods of measurement, circulation, and exchange that produced the novel idea of a national "economy," yet made its accurate representation impossible; the stereotypes and plagiarisms that created the scholarly image of the Egyptian peasant; and the interaction of social logics, horticultural imperatives, powers of desire, and political forces that turned programs of economic reform in unanticipated directions. Mitchell is a widely known political theorist and one of the most innovative writers on the Middle East. He provides a rich examination of the forms of reason, power, and expertise that characterize contemporary politics. Together, these intellectually provocative essays will challenge a broad spectrum of readers to think harder, more critically, and more politically about history, power, and theory.


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Can one explain the power of global capitalism without attributing to capital a logic and coherence it does not have? Can one account for the powers of techno-science in terms that do not merely reproduce its own understanding of the world? Rule of Experts examines these questions through a series of interrelated essays focused on Egypt in the twentieth century. These explo Can one explain the power of global capitalism without attributing to capital a logic and coherence it does not have? Can one account for the powers of techno-science in terms that do not merely reproduce its own understanding of the world? Rule of Experts examines these questions through a series of interrelated essays focused on Egypt in the twentieth century. These explore the way malaria, sugar cane, war, and nationalism interacted to produce the techno-politics of the modern Egyptian state; the forms of debt, discipline, and violence that founded the institution of private property; the methods of measurement, circulation, and exchange that produced the novel idea of a national "economy," yet made its accurate representation impossible; the stereotypes and plagiarisms that created the scholarly image of the Egyptian peasant; and the interaction of social logics, horticultural imperatives, powers of desire, and political forces that turned programs of economic reform in unanticipated directions. Mitchell is a widely known political theorist and one of the most innovative writers on the Middle East. He provides a rich examination of the forms of reason, power, and expertise that characterize contemporary politics. Together, these intellectually provocative essays will challenge a broad spectrum of readers to think harder, more critically, and more politically about history, power, and theory.

30 review for Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    1/5stars im literally trained to read things im literally in a masters for reading books and i couldn't understand this wtf am i dumb its about mosquitoes and science thats it thats the book 1 star 1/5stars im literally trained to read things im literally in a masters for reading books and i couldn't understand this wtf am i dumb its about mosquitoes and science thats it thats the book 1 star

  2. 5 out of 5

    محمد

    شكرا للسباعي ويونس على الترجمة الرائعة. للمؤلف قدرة هائلة على الربط بين مجموعة ضخمة من الحوادث، ربطاً منطقياً محكماً، بحيث يستنتج في نهاية الفصلين الاول والثاني إلى أن أعمال المرء قد تودي به في النهاية. استنتاجات الفصلين الأول والثاني منطقية ولا يشوبها أي خطأ. لكن الأمور ليست بمثل هذه البساطة، والاستنتاج المنطقي قد لا يكون حقيقياً بالضرورة. أقرأ الآن الفصل الرابع، لا أستطيع مقاومة كتابة عدة كلمات هنا على سبيل التخفيف عن النفس، يدرس المؤلف كتابين شهيرين عن الفلاح المصري، واحد كتبه مثقف مصري، والآخر شكرا للسباعي ويونس على الترجمة الرائعة. للمؤلف قدرة هائلة على الربط بين مجموعة ضخمة من الحوادث، ربطاً منطقياً محكماً، بحيث يستنتج في نهاية الفصلين الاول والثاني إلى أن أعمال المرء قد تودي به في النهاية. استنتاجات الفصلين الأول والثاني منطقية ولا يشوبها أي خطأ. لكن الأمور ليست بمثل هذه البساطة، والاستنتاج المنطقي قد لا يكون حقيقياً بالضرورة. أقرأ الآن الفصل الرابع، لا أستطيع مقاومة كتابة عدة كلمات هنا على سبيل التخفيف عن النفس، يدرس المؤلف كتابين شهيرين عن الفلاح المصري، واحد كتبه مثقف مصري، والآخر كتبه زائر أمريكي. ظل الكتابان بمثابة مدخلين لدراسة الفلاح المصري لفترة طويلة، ووصفا دائماً بالتفرد والصدق والإتقان. بينما يستشف قاريء كتاب حكم الخبراء الكم الهائل من العنصرية والكذب والظلم والجهل والغباءوالنظرات الفوقية المنتشرة في الفقرات المجتزأة من الكتابين. كان من الأفضل أن يوضع عنوان جانبي للكتاب: حكم الخـــراء

  3. 5 out of 5

    Nick

    Mitchell is one of the most *useful* Foucault-influenced scholars that I have read, because he steeps his arguments in history and political economy. This series of essays is no different. Nevertheless, like Tania Murray Li (The Will to Improve), James Ferguson (The Anti-Politics Machine), Beatrice Hibou (The Force of Obedience) and others, Mitchell in the end sometimes moves too much toward what I call "structuralist post-structuralism" whereby things happen more as unintended consequences rath Mitchell is one of the most *useful* Foucault-influenced scholars that I have read, because he steeps his arguments in history and political economy. This series of essays is no different. Nevertheless, like Tania Murray Li (The Will to Improve), James Ferguson (The Anti-Politics Machine), Beatrice Hibou (The Force of Obedience) and others, Mitchell in the end sometimes moves too much toward what I call "structuralist post-structuralism" whereby things happen more as unintended consequences rather than because people plan for them to happen. Certainly history matters and we must not unduly privilege conspiracy. However, we must also not travel too far in the other direction. Mitchell avoids this tendency by making violence a central piece of his argument. However, by remaining substantially within political economy disciplines, Mitchell misses opportunities for crossing boundaries of state, corporation and society. Though he rightly makes blurred boundaries of public and private a central part of his argument, Mitchell still remains largely within political economy approaches. Thus, valuable cultural and geographical insights (e.g. Thrift's interrogation of business practice in Carrier and Miller's Virtualism) are largely absent from the book. Even given these shortcomings, Mitchell's book provides invaluable insights into the nexus of violence, representation and exploitation through the lens of colonial and post-colonial Egypt. Certainly worth the price.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Muntaser Ibrahim

    مهم جداً وفتّح عيني على كذا فكرة يمكن يبقوا تأسيسيين بعد كده. الكتاب مهتم بالأساس بتحليل الخطابات إللي أنتجت حوالين مصر في القرن العشرين، وبيستكشف الظرف التاريخي إللي الخطابات دي أنتجت فيها عشان يفهم إذا كانت الخطابات دي كانت معبرة عن حقيقة ما ولّا كانت أداة لتثبيت السلطة أو خلق وضع معين يسهل التحكم فيه وتوظيفه سياسياً. كتاب عن أركيولوجيا الخطابات عن مصر لو ينفع أقول كده. عجبني بشكل خاص الجزء الأول المعنون ب"طفيليات الرأسمالية" إللي تناول في أول فصوله انتشار الملاريا في مصر إللي قتلت 70 ألف شخص مهم جداً وفتّح عيني على كذا فكرة يمكن يبقوا تأسيسيين بعد كده. الكتاب مهتم بالأساس بتحليل الخطابات إللي أنتجت حوالين مصر في القرن العشرين، وبيستكشف الظرف التاريخي إللي الخطابات دي أنتجت فيها عشان يفهم إذا كانت الخطابات دي كانت معبرة عن حقيقة ما ولّا كانت أداة لتثبيت السلطة أو خلق وضع معين يسهل التحكم فيه وتوظيفه سياسياً. كتاب عن أركيولوجيا الخطابات عن مصر لو ينفع أقول كده. عجبني بشكل خاص الجزء الأول المعنون ب"طفيليات الرأسمالية" إللي تناول في أول فصوله انتشار الملاريا في مصر إللي قتلت 70 ألف شخص في وقت الحرب العالمية التانية (ماحدش افتكرهم تحت ضجيج الحرب إللي قتلت مصريين أقل بكتير)، وإن إللي تسبب في نقل الناموسة المسببة للملاريا كان بناء خزان أسوان في فترة سابقة نتيجة آراء الخبراء الهندسيين وقتها. الفصل إللي بعدها بيتناول مسألة التكييف القانوني لمسائل ملكية الأراضي الزراعية في عهد الخديوي إسماعيل وإزاي إن القوانين إللي إتحطت دي (نتيجة نصائح الخبراء أيضاً) أدت إلى ضرر أكبر بكتير من النفع إللي كان مرجو، وإنها كانت وسيلة من وسائل حصر الأراضي تمهيداً بعد كده لفرض السيطرة عليها، وده كان موضوع الفصل التالت أيضاً. الجزء التالت من الكتاب شديد الأهمية أيضاً لأنه بيتناول آخر أربعين أو خمسين سنة في تاريخ البلد وإزاي كانت مشاريع التنمية والافتراضات بتاعت الخبراء الدوليين حوالين مصر بتتجاهل حقيقة الوضع في مصر على حساب تثبيت قواعد معينة وتطبيقها على جميع البلدان. وده يمكن أحد الأسس القائم عليها الكتاب وهو التمييز بين الاقتصاد وعلم الاقتصاد: الأيدولوجيا والعلم إللي بيتم الخلط بينهم وبيتشاف إن مفيش حلول أخرى لأن "الاقتصاد باعتباره علم بيشوف إن ده الحل الوحيد." ويمكن الواحد شاف ده قريب في فترة مفاوضات اليونان مع البنك المركزي الأوروبي إللي كان شايف إن سياسة التقشف هي الحل الوحيد باعتبار الاقتصاد كعلم بيحتم كده، بينما في الحقيقة التقشف ما كانش من اختيار أيديولوجي من ضمن اختيارات أخرى كتيرة. العيب الوحيد إللي متعلق بالكتاب كان المنهج إللي بيتم بيه تناول مسائل الخصوصية الثقافية، وشفته بيجنح أكتر ناحية الكلام بتاع إن كل دولة وليها ظروفها، وده حقيقي، لكن ده مش معناه إن فيه مبادئ عامة ما ينفعش يتشاف إن تجاهلها هو جزء من احترام الخصوصية الثقافية والاجتماعية للبلد. النسبية الثقافية المميزة لمفكرين ما بعد الحداثة كانت أكتر شئ مزعج بالنسبة لي في الكتاب فعلاً. كنت بتكلم من كام يوم عن تيموثي ميتشل مع أستاذ مهاب نصر وقال لي على كتاب عمله في أوائل الألفينات متعلق بعلاقة المجتمع المدني بمصر وإزاي إنه إتكلم عن إزاي المجتمع المدني دمر تقريباً فكرة السياسة والأحزاب. أنا لسّه ما قريتش الكتاب ده ولكن الكلام ده هو الشغل الأساسي لحد زي سامويل موين دلوقتي في هارفرد وده مجال اهتمامه البحثي أساساً عن العلاقة بين حركة حقوق الإنسان الحالية وبين إزاي، تحت مظلة الحركة دي المميزة لعصرنا، كان العصر ده هو أطيب العصور على أغنى 1% في العالم. ده الtagline بتاع أحدث كتبه. فتيموثي ميتشل برنس جداً الحقيقة D:

  5. 4 out of 5

    Pete

    The best aspect of this is Mitchell’s tracing of the complex ways in which governmental (often developmental) interventions take shape through a variety of agencies, and the extremely broad range of mitigating, contingent factors they encounter as they unfold. Chapters 1 and 3 exemplify this approach. Chapter 7 is a decent case study of Egypt as it has been envisioned by developers, providing an object lesson in the many criticisms of international economic development (most of which have been a The best aspect of this is Mitchell’s tracing of the complex ways in which governmental (often developmental) interventions take shape through a variety of agencies, and the extremely broad range of mitigating, contingent factors they encounter as they unfold. Chapters 1 and 3 exemplify this approach. Chapter 7 is a decent case study of Egypt as it has been envisioned by developers, providing an object lesson in the many criticisms of international economic development (most of which have been around since the 1970s, I’d say). Mitchell also does a good job of showing how the discourse of development posits itself as apart from the objects it describes even though it is obviously molding them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Muhammad Mahmoud

    كتاب يؤرخ لمرحلة تأسيس الدولة الحديثة فى مصر وإنعكاساتها على البيئةالإقتصاديةوالإجتماعية والمعرفية للإنسان المصرى , لفهم المشاكل الآنية علينا أن نعود لذلك الكتاب .

  7. 5 out of 5

    Koke

    كنت افكر دائما عن الاطار الذي يستطيع به حاكمون مصر السابقون والحاليون واظن ايضا المستقبليون عن خطف شعب باكمله بقوه السلاح الشعب المصري بكافه اطيافه في رحله زمنيه عميقه من الاختطاف هذا الكتاب يعبر بتميز شديد عن اختطاف الجزء الاصيل من المجتمع المصري الا وهو الفلاحون منذ عهد محمد علي حتي عصر مبارك

  8. 5 out of 5

    Nick Bernstein

    “in this essay i will prove that all knowledge is wrong and nothing is true and, most importantly, that capitalism bad” -timothy mitchell academic texts tend to be really dry and self-indulgent but this was surprisingly a straightforward read. and i think that’s contingent on the fact that, instead of name-dropping theory buzzwords like “structuralism” and “socially-embedded economy,” mitchell uses more of an “anti-theory” that actively seeks to deconstruct these terms and concepts we tend to acc “in this essay i will prove that all knowledge is wrong and nothing is true and, most importantly, that capitalism bad” -timothy mitchell academic texts tend to be really dry and self-indulgent but this was surprisingly a straightforward read. and i think that’s contingent on the fact that, instead of name-dropping theory buzzwords like “structuralism” and “socially-embedded economy,” mitchell uses more of an “anti-theory” that actively seeks to deconstruct these terms and concepts we tend to accept as givens. this skepticism is central to his greater argument about political economy and colonialism. mitchell uses this critical approach in tandem with the modern history of egypt to show how the techniques of economics as a social science (development, modernization) are not inherently universal or infallible truths. he demonstrates that historically these techniques were used by an emergent political class who sought to rationalize, (re)calculate, and ultimately colonize the given geographic space that would eventually become the nation-state of egypt. as mitchell posits, the techniques of measuring wealth and economic development that remain so heavily relied on today have their roots in colonial practices and these techniques have been shown to have their own “agenda” that is not always the same as the “experts” who rely on them. the author uses a decidedly post-modern approach for economic development discourse. as such, he posits that “modernity” in egypt was not a singular, linear progression from the traditional to modern. the western-imported ideals of modernity, mitchell argues, created a new source of political power: technology and its knowledge. these experts and their “techno-politics” sought to revolutionize the egyptian countryside “from the top-down” through agricultural reform, new laws of private property and, much later, a demonstrably perverse and exploitative form of tourism. mitchell argues that these techno politics have perpetuated a culture of political violence and coercion for which the techniques themselves can not account. therefore he surmises that there is no inherent logic or “rationalism” behind capitalism and that it is ultimately just as arbitrary as the “backwards” techniques and customs it seeks to replace. although i mostly agree with these statements i still have some reservations. though to his credit mitchell consciously avoids “abstraction” from the extensive historiographical evidence he presents, this post-modern approach, perhaps inherently, makes some of the more broad, esoteric statements about capitalism and the unfolding of political power seem at times reductive and self-contradictory. while mitchell sees the semantics of words like “capitalism” and “economics” as inherently fluid, i think there’s still value in taking these technical concepts at “face value” while continuing to be skeptical of them. capitalism may have no inherent logic or rationalism, but with this framework, neither does anything else. this book does a good job of demonstrating the errors of colonialism and development ethos but stops short of offering any real alternatives...hence my previous review of the book which just said “capitalism BAD” in one of the essays there’s also this really weird postscript where mitchell gives a bunch of circumstantial evidence towards one of the “expert” orientalist writers he had just roasted may or may not have also had ties to the CIA during 60s-70s. like i guess that would be fucked up were it demonstrably factual but.... what’s the point? despite some moments where mitchell’s conspiratorial leftism shows, his framework is a really useful one for understanding why, especially in a colonial context, the implementation of certain policies often result in unintended, sometimes counterintuitive outcomes. whether or not these outcomes are enough to discount the ideals behind them remains up to interpretation (the author seems to lean towards “yes”). but in the end I still agree with his basic argument that we should be skeptical of the infallibility of “experts” who make long-reaching policy decisions concerning the economy (which is in itself a constructed idea). his thesis is well-supported based on the often violent and disastrous efforts to “develop” the economy of egypt. the author articulates the argument well and each ond of the essays really “makes you think” about how political power operates in the colonial and post-colonial context. (i mostly wrote it for my own comprehension but shouts out to anyone who actually reads this review, follow @decafelids)

  9. 5 out of 5

    morning Os

    Wow. Who would expect this???! For me the first two parts (especially the first couple of chapters) were eye-opening. I am inspired by his argument of the bifurcation of the world in modernity --- reminds me of Giddens' "consequences of modernity" in that we always "trust" the system but we really don't know how it works. "Colonial relationship" is only one element in his story of Egypt -- just an enforcer of these processes. Wow. Who would expect this???! For me the first two parts (especially the first couple of chapters) were eye-opening. I am inspired by his argument of the bifurcation of the world in modernity --- reminds me of Giddens' "consequences of modernity" in that we always "trust" the system but we really don't know how it works. "Colonial relationship" is only one element in his story of Egypt -- just an enforcer of these processes.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tarek

    Truly amazing book by Mitchell. HE narrates the emergence of a modern class of technocrats in Egypt and traces the interaction of environment, foreign policy, and local politics to explain the changes in the constitution of Egyptian society under the influence of modernity and colonialism. I particularly liked the section on the failure of the Aswan damn and the slew of unexpected collateral effects that it creates.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lilly Irani

    Interesting history of how something taken for granted as natural and pre-existing, "the economy" (in the macroeconomic sense), actually was created in egypt through acts of violence (creating and enforcing particular schemes of private property) and transnational experts applying "universal" social scientific principles. Heavy hitting theory implications and might have some intimidating theory speak in the conclusions of each chapter, but the histories themselves are quite readable. Interesting history of how something taken for granted as natural and pre-existing, "the economy" (in the macroeconomic sense), actually was created in egypt through acts of violence (creating and enforcing particular schemes of private property) and transnational experts applying "universal" social scientific principles. Heavy hitting theory implications and might have some intimidating theory speak in the conclusions of each chapter, but the histories themselves are quite readable.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Racheal

    One of the most insightful and fascinating books I have ever read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dagezi

    For all of Mitchell's daunting rep, my undergrads actually kind of dug this. An angry book that doesn't seem angry at first. For all of Mitchell's daunting rep, my undergrads actually kind of dug this. An angry book that doesn't seem angry at first.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Timothy Mitchell’s Rule of Experts tackles many different, though related, issues in the study of the Egyptian countryside, all of which are unified by the theme of adding complexity to matters that have been examined previously, but in ways that the author finds incomplete or insufficient. Most importantly, he argues that the economy is neither a social construction nor a new way of describing something that has always existed, but a cultural representation of something that has a material real Timothy Mitchell’s Rule of Experts tackles many different, though related, issues in the study of the Egyptian countryside, all of which are unified by the theme of adding complexity to matters that have been examined previously, but in ways that the author finds incomplete or insufficient. Most importantly, he argues that the economy is neither a social construction nor a new way of describing something that has always existed, but a cultural representation of something that has a material reality. Although from chapter to chapter the work might seem to be a collection of loosely related essays, taken as a whole, Rule of Experts contains a coherent narrative that explores, through both historical and economic analysis, the marginalization of the Egyptian peasant (primarily, although there are other actors) in Egyptian historiography. After an introduction that outlines several of his main ideas, Mitchell delves directly into the subject of complexity in his first chapter. Tracking the multifarious factors that led to the spread of malaria in the early 1940s, the author reveals how the epidemic was rooted in a complex web of human agency, technological development, political and military exigencies, and non-human actors, most of which acted on a global, as well as national, scale. In doing so, he not only asserts that the dichotomy between “natural” and “human” factors is false, but also uncovers the intentional way in which it and similar dichotomies have been constructed. In the following chapter Mitchell examines the development of private property law in Egypt, which has been framed as a “universal right” and a sign of progress in the nation. The problem was, he argues, that Ottoman notions of property were based on complex claims to revenue and that attempts to institute private property forced the government to reduce the issue to a more simple conception of “ownership of land”. Doing so engendered significant resistance from the people it was intended to help, including land desertion from those who did not see the value in state attempts to institute modern farming. All of this led eventually to violence, a characteristic that Mitchell sees as having played a significant role in the introduction of many “modern” concepts. Moreover, the implementation of private property did not take the land away from the state, but merely developed new relationships of control that tied it to the wealthiest and most exploitative owners. Intending to break the perceived “arbitrariness” of the Ottoman system, land reform in Egypt introduced new forms of arbitrary power and hid them beneath a new system that appeared rational and peasant-friendly. In his third chapter, Mitchell introduces a new theme, that of the “character of calculability”. The author’s basic argument in this section is that new developments that allowed for the quantification of models that had not been conceptualized this way previously created new forms of “political power”. Maps and surveys, for example, produced “a knowledge and command of space” that helped erase the violent and arbitrary way in which private property was established in Egypt. In a similar fashion, currency brought shape to nascent notions of the “economy”. Calculability furthered the creation of dichotomies by positing a false separation between the subject and the object being calculated but, as Mitchell demonstrates, this distance was an illusion. Moreover, calculability also feigned rationality and objective expertise where it did not exist. Using the example of the “national economy”, the author demonstrates that, for several reasons that include blurred and often arbitrary boundaries, as well as the difficulty and biases inherent in conducting surveys and censuses, economic and statistical knowledge was not as accurate a reflection of reality as it liked to believe it was. Even in map making, the aims of the state and even the very units of measurement used distanced the final product from “reality”. As mentioned above, maps, used to delineate private property, were forced to reduce the complexity of Ottoman notions of property into “land ownership”, which meant that any representation of “property” that was based on measurements of territory was itself a distortion of the “reality” of the system, in addition to being transformative of that “reality” rather than objectively distant. The second part of Mitchell’s book is a more academic and historiographical analysis that concerns the field of “peasant studies”. In chapter four the author outlines how “peasant studies” were framed by Orientalist scholarship, while chapter five highlights how such works focused systematically on the violence from the rural population rather than against it, because concentrating on the latter would have disrupted basic Orientalist tenets of the field. In the final chapter of this section, “Heritage and Violence”, he argues that as nations needed to prove their modernity (and, in some cases, justify their existence) by demonstrating that they had a past, they engaged in a conscious process of transforming their country into something that was both inclusive and restrictive. In doing so they needed to formulate new images of, and relationships to, the countryside that often required ignoring or forgetting about certain elements of the past, a feat that usually entailed violent and destructive actions. Mitchell’s final section is entitled “Fixing the Economy” and is, unsurprisingly, more geared towards economic analysis than the previous ones. The underlying idea behind these three chapters is that international bodies have misunderstood Egypt’s needs on a routine basis, which the author attributes in a large part to the dichotomies that have ruled modern political, economic, and sociological discourse. For example, one of the common economic criticisms of Egypt is that it is “overpopulated”, but Mitchell questions and then unpacks this term and demonstrates that the problem is more complicated than a simple imbalance between food production capabilities and population. Defining the problem as “natural” allowed both the state and international bodies to ignore the political reasons behind the disparity between food and people. Naturally, when the problem was misidentified, the proposed solutions did not yield positive results, thus dragging the country further into trouble. To understand completely all of the nuances of Mitchell’s arguments would require familiarity with political, economic, sociological, and historical theory, but one need not be an expert in any of these fields to find value in this work. The author outlines his claims in a lucid and intelligible manner and engages in theory only insofar as is necessary to remain rigorous and grounded and to demonstrate his proficiency. Such discussions rarely become overly complex, although it is possible to get lost at times in those fields with which the reader is not familiar. Overall, Rule of Experts is considered a seminal work of Egyptian history that has influenced several fields and whose underlying premise could be applied to many other nations. It is not a quick or easy read, but one that provides valuable insights and reminds us both how easy it is to dismiss or ignore the complexities in the world and of the potentially dire consequences in doing so.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Joe Bambridge

    This was one of my favourite books during my MSc and since Rule by Experts I have read nearly everything Mitchell has produced. This book can really be read in two ways: as an expertly researched and written account of Egypt’s colonial history, and as a work of extraordinary social theory. Mitchell shows how concepts like democracy, development, the economy, and even Egypt itself, are not ideas that have emerged on their own, but techno-scientific arenas that have emerged from historically speci This was one of my favourite books during my MSc and since Rule by Experts I have read nearly everything Mitchell has produced. This book can really be read in two ways: as an expertly researched and written account of Egypt’s colonial history, and as a work of extraordinary social theory. Mitchell shows how concepts like democracy, development, the economy, and even Egypt itself, are not ideas that have emerged on their own, but techno-scientific arenas that have emerged from historically specific actor-networks of technology, their related types of expertise, and the forms of knowledge and calculations that they allow for. The outcome is an entirely original way of thinking about the history of capitalism, colonialism, poverty and development.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Rollin

    Enjoyable read. The intro is a bit heavy on theory and not representative of the vibrant and engaging narratives he presents in the beginning of the book. Mitchell writes with authority and humor (especially appreciate the "can the subaltern speak?" in the "can the mosquito speak?" paragraph) A bit dogmatic and abstract at times but still presents compelling arguments that dismantle "logics" behind capitalism. Enjoyable read. The intro is a bit heavy on theory and not representative of the vibrant and engaging narratives he presents in the beginning of the book. Mitchell writes with authority and humor (especially appreciate the "can the subaltern speak?" in the "can the mosquito speak?" paragraph) A bit dogmatic and abstract at times but still presents compelling arguments that dismantle "logics" behind capitalism.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Leif

    Essential reading in political science, critical economic studies, and social history. Mitchell is unparalleled and absolutely, incandescently, meticulous, and his insistence on uncompromising rigor is refreshing. I can think of few equals in critical theory, none in the field of political science.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Merna Mike

    Very interesting to read but hard to understand everything the writer wants to deliver I enjoyed reading it so much, but I need to read once or twice again so I can gain all the knowledge the author is delivering

  19. 4 out of 5

    Omar

    need to collect my notes about this. surprisingly useful / predictive given that it was written in 2002.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Earl Lemongrab

    Good shit.* *Mosquito and dam facts

  21. 5 out of 5

    Justin Holiman

    This, along with his Carbon Democracy, have the potential to entirely shift one's view of the world and the narrative of progress and development as both necessary and inevitable. This, along with his Carbon Democracy, have the potential to entirely shift one's view of the world and the narrative of progress and development as both necessary and inevitable.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sameh hwary

    المرة التانية ليا مع تيموثي ميتشل وكالعادة الراجل مبهر جدا في مقدار العمق اللي بيعرض بيه موضوعاته وقدرته الرهيبة على لحم الكثير(فششخ) من التفاصيل في نسق واحد متجانس لدرجة الإذهال مشكلتي الوحيدة معاه اني مهما ركزت لازم أتهوه من الخطوط العريضة للمقال من كتر التفاصيل وبالتالي الكتاب يقرأ مرتين على الأقل مع ضرورة شديدة للتركيز وعدم السرحان من ناحية تانية وبغض النظر عن دسامة الكتاب فهو ممتع للغاية و منير للغاية

  23. 4 out of 5

    Yousef Nabil

    لهذا الكتاب قصة.. رشحه لي أحد الأصدقاء فسألته عن موضوعه فلم يتمكن من شرح الخط الرئيسي لي بأي شكل، وأيضًا عندما نظرت إلى الفهرس والقطعة المختارة على ظهر الكتاب لم اتمكن أيضًا من فهم الموضوع الرئيسي. الحقيقة إن مفيش موضوع معين للكتاب، وفور أن قرأته تذكرت مناظرة تشومسكي وفوكو الشهيرة حينما أخذ فوكو في الاستطراد في شرح فكرته بشكل معقد للغاية، وثم في أقل من دقيقة استطاع تشومسكي تلخيص فكرته بيسر شديد. ما أقصده إنه من الواضح إن اغلب الدراسات البنيوية ( وأعتقد إن الدراسة في هذا الكتاب بنيوية في كثير من م لهذا الكتاب قصة.. رشحه لي أحد الأصدقاء فسألته عن موضوعه فلم يتمكن من شرح الخط الرئيسي لي بأي شكل، وأيضًا عندما نظرت إلى الفهرس والقطعة المختارة على ظهر الكتاب لم اتمكن أيضًا من فهم الموضوع الرئيسي. الحقيقة إن مفيش موضوع معين للكتاب، وفور أن قرأته تذكرت مناظرة تشومسكي وفوكو الشهيرة حينما أخذ فوكو في الاستطراد في شرح فكرته بشكل معقد للغاية، وثم في أقل من دقيقة استطاع تشومسكي تلخيص فكرته بيسر شديد. ما أقصده إنه من الواضح إن اغلب الدراسات البنيوية ( وأعتقد إن الدراسة في هذا الكتاب بنيوية في كثير من ملامحها) تصر عن قصد وعمد على تعقيد الفكرة بشكل غير عادي، في حين إن الفكرة في غالب الأوقات لا تكون بهذا التعقيد أو العمق. يحاول تيموثي ميتشل هنا استعراض عدة قضايا متفرقة في تاريخ مصر الحديث بشرح البنى المختلفة التي يمكن تفسير الظاهرة مع الإصرار ( بشكل يتفق مع البنيوية) على تجاهل دور الإنسان كلاعب رئيسي في الأحداث، فالعالم يسير كنتاج لبنى اجتماعية واقتصادية وثقافية حتمية، وكل محاولات الإنسان لتنفيذ أي شيء على ارض الواقع من بنى أفكاره، يتم تنفيذه بشكل مختلف تمامًا عما قصده ( مثال سد أسوان كما يطرح الكتاب) فالبٌنى المختلفة تجعل الأمور تسير في حتمية أخرى منفصلة تمامًا عن دور الإنسان. من الأمور اللافتة للنظر أن أغلب الاتجاهات الحديثة ( بشكل واضح جدًا جدًا في هذا الكتاب وفي استعمار مصر أيضًا لنفس المؤلف) تتجنب تمامًا إصدار أي أحكام قيمية، فما من قيمة في الأساس. يوضح الكاتب في تحليله لأغلب قضاياه دور العنف الرئيسي دون أن يدينه بشكل قيمي.. يوضحه فقط، وكأن ما من طريقة أخرى لإدارة الأمور.. الحداثة تساوي العنف دون أن ندينها... مجرد تقرير لوقائع تسير في حتمية مفتعلة غريبة. مناظرة فوكو وتشومسكي واختلاف الفيلسوفين وضحت لي جدًا المدار السيء الذي تدور فيه البنيوية.. هذا قطعًا لبا يمنع أن بعض تحليلات الكتاب عميقة وجيدة شأنها شأن أغلب الدراسيات الحديثة التي تحاول تقديم منظور مختلف، لكني في النهاية لن أقرأ أي دراسة لهذا المؤلف بعد ذلك، لأن الدراسات البنيوية فعلا مفتعلة وتصر على تعقيد أمور بسيطة بشكل غير عادي فيعتقد القاريء أن المشكلة فيه وفي قصور فهمه، وهذا متعمد - هكذا أعتقد - ليغطي على ضحالة وغرابة كثير من الأفكار بتغليفها بإطار من العمق المصطنع.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anders

    Mitchell is one of the best history writers out there, and this is seriously one of the best history books I've read, if not the best. Truthfully, the title sums the book up in a way I can't: Egypt, techno-politics, and modernity. If you like any of those topics, you'll freak out over this book. There's not a clunker in this book, they're all riveting in their own way. Broadly, the book discusses "the relationship between expertise and the world to which it refers-- a world that, on closer inspe Mitchell is one of the best history writers out there, and this is seriously one of the best history books I've read, if not the best. Truthfully, the title sums the book up in a way I can't: Egypt, techno-politics, and modernity. If you like any of those topics, you'll freak out over this book. There's not a clunker in this book, they're all riveting in their own way. Broadly, the book discusses "the relationship between expertise and the world to which it refers-- a world that, on closer inspection, never has the simplicity, logic, or fixedness that expertise assumes." (268) Many of the articles knocked my socks off: one talked about the invention of "the economy," in which he shows that "the economy" as an abstract idea was actually invented in the early/mid 20th century-- it wasn't discovered as an existing thing, but actually brought into being through a series of activities. Another chapter, "The Object of Development" is a stunning introduction to development and its discontents, he shows how IMF policies and USAID activities in Egypt have operated to create a market for highly-subsidized US agricultural products. Also, he shows that little of the billions and billions of development money supposedly going into Egypt is actually seeing Egyptian pockets-- over half stays in the US as "payment" for unpayable military debts, and the other half goes to American companies to "develop" Egypt. The first essay, "Can the Mosquito Speak?" is worth the price of the book. Possibly one of the most amazing pieces of history writing ever, he connects all these seemingly disparate elements-- malaria outbreaks, dam building, WWII, forced wheat cultivation-- to show the construction of a false dichotomy of nature and science. Science, which supposedly transcends natural processes, actually can only operate in cooperation with natural processes, and natural processes can easily and quickly unseat scientific advances.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Andy

    A graduate sociological theory course could look very different (and rather unsettling) if non-canonical strands of social theory were introduced. Here's what Timothy Mitchell has to say about the postcolonial tradition (which is sometimes confused with the postmodern): "It refers to forms of critical practice that address the significance of colonialism in the formation and practice of social theory. Colonialism, from this perspective, was not incidental to the development of the modern West, n A graduate sociological theory course could look very different (and rather unsettling) if non-canonical strands of social theory were introduced. Here's what Timothy Mitchell has to say about the postcolonial tradition (which is sometimes confused with the postmodern): "It refers to forms of critical practice that address the significance of colonialism in the formation and practice of social theory. Colonialism, from this perspective, was not incidental to the development of the modern West, nor to the emergence there of new forms of technical expertise, including the modern social sciences. The possibility of social science is based upon taking certain historical experiences of the West as the template for a universal knowledge” (10). Against some of our received truths about the historical evolution and inner dynamics of capitalism, Mitchell goes even further by claiming that “[t]he power of what we call capitalism rests increasingly on its ability to portray itself as a unique and universal form, on reproducing a view of history and of economics in which the market is the universal system, constituted and propelled forward by the power of its own interior logic.The displacements and reformulations of the capitalist project show its dependence on arrangements and forces that this logic needs to portray as noncapitalist. By revealing the absence of an interior logic, they require us to look elsewhere for its power.” (271)

  26. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    I am not a researcher in this field, so my review is written for the curious non-specialist. Parts of this book are very esoteric (as the title suggests). A few of the more theoretical paragraphs were undecipherable to me, but the majority of the book was challenging but readable. I found this book after reading Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, and I think both fill the important role of reintroducing the complexity of reality into our simplifi I am not a researcher in this field, so my review is written for the curious non-specialist. Parts of this book are very esoteric (as the title suggests). A few of the more theoretical paragraphs were undecipherable to me, but the majority of the book was challenging but readable. I found this book after reading Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, and I think both fill the important role of reintroducing the complexity of reality into our simplified view of history and the current world. Through incompetence, arrogance, intentional deception or other failing, people make decisions based on bad models of complex situations that leads to negative consequences, and then, again for various reasons, ignore or fail to learn from these consequences. It's human nature to look at examples of this in history and shrug it off as the failings of more barbaric times, but as Mitchell shows, these failings are always waiting in the wings, ready to pounce when given the chance. The book is full of specific, sourced, examples over the past ~150 years. It also takes interesting looks at several more generic concepts, including challenging the view of projects as unidirectional, with man inflicting it's will on nature and the power to change a system by describing it.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    It's clear the author has an amazing grasp of Egyptian history, and it's a joy to read about issues and events affecting the poor and disenfranchised that are rarely explored. At the same time, this is not easy reading. It's very dense and complicated - I think you'd need a PhD in cultural theory and semiotics and another in Middle East history to fully understand everything, which makes it very hard to put down in the middle of an essay and pick up a day or two later. As a reader who likes to s It's clear the author has an amazing grasp of Egyptian history, and it's a joy to read about issues and events affecting the poor and disenfranchised that are rarely explored. At the same time, this is not easy reading. It's very dense and complicated - I think you'd need a PhD in cultural theory and semiotics and another in Middle East history to fully understand everything, which makes it very hard to put down in the middle of an essay and pick up a day or two later. As a reader who likes to sneak in a few minutes here and there throughout the day, I've found it a big challenge to set aside the hour or so of careful reading that each essay demands. If you're the type of person who can, I think you'll find the book rewarding. Unfortunately, the author's admirable effort is marred by a simply bad Kindle edition. Footnotes are not linked, making it very difficult to hop to the back to look up a source. You cannot change the font from what I found to be a very unpleasant one. And chapters are not marked; as far as the Kindle is concerned the whole book is one big chapter. On the plus side, at least the illustrations have been converted legibly.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Naeem

    Mind-blowing for someone trying to think about cultural political economy. Mitchell is seamless in incorporating nature, culture, and political economy into a tale not only about Egypt but also about global capitalism. He is a bit posty for my tastes and I have only read the first 120 pages or so (life got in the way), but I have marked he and his thinking as something I will have to understand and come to terms with.

  29. 5 out of 5

    AskHistorians

    An innovative take on the history of the modern world in eight interlocking essays about Egypt in the 20th century which deal with everything from land surveys to the plagiarisms of mid-century anthropology to a history of the Aswan Dam from the perspective of a mosquito. This book challenges traditional ways of talking about history by de-emphasizing human agency and focusing on the formative power of knowledge practices and technology.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Fidler

    Mosquitoes can speak. Timothy Mitchell's "Rule of Experts" is a ground breaking analysis on the creation of the contemporary Egyptian state through a failed colonialism which left with the the failing of it's 'development.' Chapters 4 and 6, which focus on the peasant during transitory times, highlight the inability of the state to feed itself, the message of chapter 7. Mosquitoes can speak. Timothy Mitchell's "Rule of Experts" is a ground breaking analysis on the creation of the contemporary Egyptian state through a failed colonialism which left with the the failing of it's 'development.' Chapters 4 and 6, which focus on the peasant during transitory times, highlight the inability of the state to feed itself, the message of chapter 7.

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