Department of Middle Eastern South Asian and African Studies
Timothy Mitchell writes about colonialism, political economy, the politics of energy, and the making of expert knowledge. Trained in the fields of law, history, and political theory, he works across the disciplinary boundaries of history and the social sciences. Many of his writings explore materials from the history and contemporary politics of Egypt, where he has conducted research over many years.
He is currently working on a study of durability, examining how the more durable apparatuses for capturing wealth characteristic of late nineteenth-century colonialism (railways, canals, apartment buildings, dams) engineered a new method of extracting income from the future—a future we now inhabit precariously today. Like much of his work, this research combines the study of the built world, technical devices, ecological processes, and the history of economic and political concepts.
Mitchell is the William B. Ransford Professor of Middle Eastern Studies at Columbia University. His is based in the Department of Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, for which he served as chair from 2011 until 2017. He also teaches occasionally in Columbia’s School of International and Public Affairs.