Particulars and universals: what I learned from teaching in Egypt

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


From 1996 through 2000, I taught at the American University in Cairo. I was an assistant professor in the Department of Political Science. During my time there, I taught courses in American Foreign Policy, Introduction to Political Science, Strategic Studies, and Ethics and International Relations. During this time, my research and teaching interests were broadly normative (as they continue to be today). That normative focus assumed a set of universal norms and approaches. While teaching in Egypt, I came to see that what I assumed to be universal needed expanding. My Egyptian students taught me a new form of universalism, one that takes serious normative claims but locates them in a different context. In this short paper, I explore how this experience of teaching in Cairo shaped my own understanding of political and ethical issues and their relationship to International Relations. I use the work of Edward Said to help me understand universalism in university teaching and scholarship.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMoving abroad
Subtitle of host publicationrisks and rewards searching for an academic life far away
EditorsKerstin Tomiak, Ruairidh J. Brown
Place of PublicationSingapore
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
ISBN (Electronic)9789819727650
ISBN (Print)9789819727643, 9789819727674
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 1 Sept 2023


  • Teaching overseas
  • Universalism
  • Edward Said
  • American University in Cairo
  • Egypt


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