Beshouy Botros was born in Cairo, Egypt and moved to Los Angeles, California with their younger brother and parents at the age of five. Together they settled in a growing community of Egyptians where Beshouy was fortunate to learn across Arabic, English, and Spanish. Navigating the immigration judiciary as a young child and later as a legal professional taught them important lessons about how individual lives become ‘documented.’ Beshouy has started an “undocumentary archive” by submitting Freedom of Information Act Requests to US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in order to examine how state agencies record claimants’ data, and invites others to research their own histories by requesting their immigration documents here.
Beshouy encourages people to reach out directly if they’d like to participate in the project or reflect on what they have found.
Beshouy graduated with a degree in history from Pomona College writing a thesis on formulations of race in nineteenth century Egypt that drew from a unique set of primary sources found in an open-air book market. Since then they have consulted with researchers in Cairo about accessing and preserving documents kept in informal collections. While at Pomona, Beshouy helped coordinate an initiative to support newly resettled refugees and this was work they continued as a case manager at the Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance in Chicago. Engaging local arts initiatives and curating with the Arab Film and Media Institute, gave Beshouy a deeper appreciation for how stories are told across different mediums and for the creative practice of studying and writing about the past.
In 2018, Beshouy was awarded an Erasmus Mundus Fellowship from the European Commission to pursue a master’s degree in gender and women’s studies at the University of Granada and Utrecht University where they worked alongside queer and trans migrant communities from Latin America, Africa and the Middle East. Over the course of this work Beshouy also studied some French, Dutch, German and Persian. Currently, Beshouy is completing a PhD in history at Yale University where their research examines the centrality of Northern Africa, specifically Egypt, Algeria, and Morocco within the emergence of trans medicine.