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Omar Cheta

Omar Cheta

Contact Information:


511 Eggers Hall

Omar Cheta

Assistant Professor, History Department

Senior Research Associate, Middle Eastern Studies Program


HST/MES 208: The Middle East Since the Rise of Islam

HST/MES 209: The Modern Middle East

HST/MES 300: Capitalism in the Middle East

HST 301: Practicum in the Study of History  

Highest degree earned

Ph.D., New York University, 2014


Omar Cheta is a historian of the modern Middle East. His primary research interests are the histories of law and capitalism in nineteenth-century Egypt. He is currently writing a book on the subject with the working title “How Commerce Became Legal: Merchants and Market Governance in Late Ottoman Egypt.”

Cheta’s academic publications have appeared in Past & Present, International Journal of Middle East Studies and History Compass. His research has been supported by the National Endowment for the Humanities, the American Philosophical Society, the Social Science Research Council, among others.

Prior to joining Syracuse University, he taught at Bard College, and was among the team that founded the Economic and Business History Research Center in Cairo. Cheta earned a B.A. in economics from the American University in Cairo, an A.M. in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Chicago, and a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern & Islamic studies, and history from New York University.

Areas of Expertise

Modern Middle East, Late Ottoman Empire, Egypt, capitalism, legal history

Research Grant Awards and Projects

National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend, 2016

American Philosophical Society, Franklin Research Grant, 2016

Middle East Studies Association, Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award, 2014

Social Science Research Council, International Dissertation Research Fellowship, 2009


Peer-reviewed Publications:

“Hostages of Credit: The Imprisonment of Debtors in Khedival Cairo” in The Oxford Handbook of Modern Egyptian History, edited by Beth Baron and Jeffrey Culang (forthcoming, 2024)

(co-authored with Kathryn Schwartz) “A Printer’s Odd Plea to Reform Legal Pluralism in Khedival Egypt,” Past and Present 252, no. 1 (2021): 179-211.

“A Prehistory of the Modern Legal Profession in Egypt, 1840s-1870s,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 50, no. 4 (2018): 649-668.

“The Economy by Other Means: The Historiography of Capitalism in the Middle East,” History Compass 16, no. 4 (2018).

Middle Eastern Studies Program
100F Eggers Hall