"The 'Spanish' Influenza in Egypt" by Christopher Rose

May 29, 2020

On May 6, 2020, Christopher Rose, Postdoctoral Fellow and Lecturer at University of Texas at Austin, delivered a webinar as part of our Director's Series on the previously-overlooked history of the devastating 'Spanish' influenza in Egypt in 1918 and how it contributed to peasant participation in the 1919 Egyptian Revolution. 

Watch the video! 


Abstract: The “Spanish influenza” pandemic that struck Egypt in fall 1918 resulted in the death of eleven out of every one thousand people. The Egyptian public health service was unprepared for a major health crisis because resources were redirected to serve military needs. Rural and poor Egyptians were particularly vulnerable as war food policies failed to meet their stated goal of ensuring a consistent and affordable supply of commodities; by summer 1918 conditions had deteriorated to the point that food riots and wheat famines were reported throughout the country. I conclude by raising questions about the impact that the pandemic had on the political situation in Egypt, arguing that the government’s inability to manage the crisis contributed to pressures underlying the 1919 nationalist uprising.