Purging to Transform the Post-Colonial State: Evidence from the 1952 Egyptian Revolution

  Professor Neil Ketchley, Department of Politics and International Relations, Oxford University

  Hybrid Event

Seminar 1 of Hilary Term's Sociology Seminar Series

Please join either in person or online. For in-person attendees, the talk will be preceded by a light lunch at 12.15pm.

Please email comms@sociology.ox.ac.uk with any questions or to receive the Microsoft Teams link.

About the Seminar

The post-World War II era saw junior military officers launch revolutionary coups in a number of post-colonial states. How did these events transform colonial-era state elites? We theorise that the inexperienced leaders of revolutionary coups had to choose between purging threats and delivering radical policies, leading to important variation in elite turnover and survival.

To illustrate our argument, we trace the careers of 674 high-ranking officials in Egypt following the Free Officers' seizure of power in July 1952. A multilevel survival analysis shows that officials connected to Egypt's deposed monarch and very senior figures were most vulnerable to being purged. Experienced officials and those with university education were more likely to be retained. Residual workplace effects suggest that a threat-competence calculation also operated at the ministry level. Triangulation with biographies, memoirs, and speeches corroborates the mechanism. The findings show why radical state-led change often requires a degree of elite-level continuity.