Academic Year 2017/2018

Refqa Abu-Remaileh

received her DPhil and MSt in modern Middle Eastern Studies, with a focus on modern Arabic Literature and Film, from the University of Oxford (2010, 2004) and her BA in English Literature from the University of British Columbia (2002). After completing her PhD, Abu-Remaileh worked with the Oxford Research Group’s (ORG) Middle East Programme, a London-based conflict-resolution organization, where she now leads the Palestine-Israel projects. In 2012-13, she was a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin. From 2014-16, she was an Alexander von Humboldt postdoctoral Fellow affiliated with the Forum Transregionale Studien, the Free University Berlin, and the University of Marburg. In 2017/18, she is an associated EUME Fellow.

Contrapuntal Fragments: Palestinian Narratives and the Search for the Whole

Part of a larger project, this phase of the research will build on previous work to explore questions around contrapuntal Palestinian literary and filmic narratives. Taking a closer look at the layering devices, the research questions will pay particular attention to the role of the reader and the construction of silence in these narratives. The musical concept of counterpoint as discussed in Edward Said’s On Late Style (2007) will be expanded to literary and film narratives to explore whether it can also be a space for invention, reinvention and reworking to yield new harmonic insights. Through a close reading of select Palestinian novels and films, this project seeks to analyze how layering devices, polyphony and counterpoint can free a text from the clutches of convention, breaking down rigid categories and hierarchies between author, narrator, character and reader, to lead to the possibility of more equal, ethical and democratic narratives.

Michael Allan

is Associate Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Oregon, where he is also program faculty in Cinema Studies, Arabic and Middle East Studies. He is the author of In the Shadow of World Literature: Sites of Reading in Colonial Egypt (Princeton, 2016) and of articles in venues such as Modernism/Modernity, Comparative Literature Studies, Early Popular Visual Culture, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, and the Journal of Arabic Literature. He was the guest editor of a special issue of Comparative Literature (“Reading Secularism: Religion, Literature, Aesthetics”), and with Elisabetta Benigni of an issue of Philological Encounters (“Lingua Franca: Towards a Philology of the Sea”). He earned his PhD in the Department of Comparative Literature at the University of California, Berkeley, under the direction of Judith Butler, Saba Mahmood and Karl Britto, and his BA in History and Modern Culture and Media at Brown University. He was previously a EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin (2011-12), a member of the Society of Fellows at Columbia University in New York City (2008-09) and a fellow at the Townsend Center for the Humanities at the University of California, Berkeley (2006-07). In 2017 (February-July) and 2018 (June-August), he is a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Picturing the World: The Global Routes of Early Cinema, 1896-1903

With the support of the Alexander von Humboldt fellowship, Allan will be writing a book-length project, Picturing the World: The Global Routes of Early Cinema, dedicated to the transnational history of camera operators for the Lumière Brothers film company. The various chapters discuss the global dissemination of the Cinematograph between 1896 and 1903 and focus in particular on Alexandre Promio's journey across North Africa and the Middle East. The book connects specific Lumière films to the sites they depict, including the pyramids in Egypt, the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem and a rooftop in Algiers, and it contrasts these filmic depictions to other media forms: David Roberts’ lithographs in Egypt and Palestine, William Henry Jackson’s photographs of Algiers, and Henry Aston Barker’s panoramas of Constantinople. At a time when film studies extends its scope across national traditions and media platforms, this account of the Lumière camera operators is meant both as a historiographical intervention (telling the story of the Lumière Brothers in the Middle East) and as a methodological model for scholarship committed to comparative analysis across various languages, territories and media.

Seda Altuğ

is a lecturer at the Atatürk Institute for Modern Turkish History at Boğaziçi University, Istanbul. She received her PhD from Utrecht University, Netherlands. Her dissertation is entitled “Sectarianism in the Syrian Jazira: Community, Land and Violence in the Memories of World War I and the French Mandate (1915–1939)”. Her research interests cover state-society relations in French-Syria, land issues, empire, minorities, border and memory. She has recently started working on land and property regimes in the Ottoman East and Syria under the French mandate. She published various pieces on the minority regime and refugee issue in French-Syria, as well as on Armenian and Kurdish history in post-genocide Syria. She also wrote extensively on current affairs in Syria and the wider Middle East. In the academic year 2017/18, she is an Irmgard Coninx Prize EUME Fellow.

Governing Land and Politics of Difference in Syria (1920–1946)


This study intends to investigate the workings of colonial politics of difference and management of population through the governance of land and property in French-Syria. Seemingly a pure political-economic issue, the land question is intrinsically linked to the maintenance of political order and management of populations. It addresses a set of political, economic, judicial and social issues. Providing the political and social underpinnings of the nature of the contest over land and property is the field of ethno-religious difference. In the Syrian case, the field has been dominated by “primordialist” assumptions. However, ethnic and religious identifications are not fixed social categories; their significance is bound up with political, economic, social and even epistemological projects of difference-making on the imperial and national levels. This project will deal with the economic project of difference-making by investigating the politics of new settlements and mixed land tenure systems in the city of Homs, and in two multi-ethnic frontier regions in Syria during the French Mandate.

Haytham Bahoora

received his MA and PhD in Comparative Literature from New York University (2004, 2010). He has published articles and book chapters in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Journal of Middle East Women’s Studies, the Arab Studies Journal, and the Oxford Handbook of Arab Novelistic Traditions. His book, Aesthetics of Arab Modernity: Literature and Urbanism in Colonial Iraq (forthcoming, Cambridge University Press) links the production of aesthetic modernisms in Iraq in various artistic genres (narrative, poetry, painting, architecture) to a period of uneven social and economic development in early to mid-twentieth century urban Baghdad. From 2010-17, he was Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature at the University of Colorado, Boulder. He was previously a EUME Fellow (2009-10) and an Art Histories and Aesthetic Practices Fellow (2013-14) at the Forum Transregionale Studien. He will be joining the faculty of the Department of Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations and the Centre for Comparative Literature at the University of Toronto in January 2018. From October to December 2017, Bahoora will be an associated EUME Fellow.

“Modernizing” Ibn Khaldun: ʿAli al-Wardi and the Sociology of the Iraqi Peasant

This project examines the writings of Iraq’s foremost sociologist, ʿAli al-Wardi (1913-1995 CE), whose multi-volume work, Lamahat Ijtimaʿiyya min Tarikh al-ʿIraq al-Hadith (Sociological Glimpses from the Modern History of Iraq) embarked on a sociological analysis of what al-Wardi termed the “personality of the Iraqi individual” (Shakhsiyat al-Fard al-ʿIraqi). Al-Wardi’s methodology combined Arab intellectual history, particularly the work of the classical philosopher Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406 CE), with modern sociological theory to depict Iraq’s rapidly transforming 20th-century social landscape, particularly its rural inhabitants. Like Ibn Khaldun, Al-Wardi theorized the relationship between urban culture and that of Bedouin tribesmen, but adapted aspects of Ibn Khaldun’s ideas to theorize the appearance of new peasant classes. My project argues that al-Wardi’s work emerges from a modern tradition of positivist sociological inquiry that, when applied in the colonial context, claimed to produce a dispassionate portrayal of social reality. Al-Wardi’s theorizations of Bedouin and peasant cultures would lend itself to explanations of the irrevocable distance—psychological, cultural, and material—between the city and the country, a distance that was a barrier to the establishment of a unified national culture, and thus a distance that had to be bridged through government policy. In the context of an expanding central government authority, such a state of affairs had a particularly pernicious impact on the peasantry, who were being integrated into the governmentality of the colonial state.

Rasha Chatta

earned her PhD in Comparative Literature from SOAS, University of London (2016), with a dissertation entitled “Marginality and Individuation: A Theoretical Approach to Abla Farhoud and Arab Migrant Literature”. She holds an MA in Near and Middle Eastern Studies from SOAS and a BA in History of the Middle East and North Africa from Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris I) and “Classes préparatoires” in Humanities. At SOAS, Rasha has taught courses on Arab women’s literature, Arab cinema, and the Arabic language. In 2009, she was Community Outreach Director at the Cairo-based Resettlement Legal Aid Project. Rasha’s research interests include visual aesthetics and memory, approaches to world literature, migrant and diasporic literatures, and war literature with a focus on Lebanon and Syria. Among her publications is the chapter “Mutations of the Trans-Migrare: Reflections on Individuation and Un-Homing on the Other Side of Belonging”, in: Kläger, F. and Stierstorfer, K. (eds.), Diasporic Constructions of Home and Belonging (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2015), 53–69. During the academic year 2017/18, Chatta is a EUME Fellow.

The Arab Migrant Graphic Novel: A Comparative Study of (Im)Migrant Stories, War Narratives, and Conflicted Memory between the Near East and Europe

This research project will focus on the graphic novel, a sub-genre that is traditionally less examined in Arab and Middle Eastern Studies. It will seek to offer a comparative study of the Arab migrant graphic novel by examining the visual and creative portrayal of (im)migrant experiences in the aftermaths of the Lebanese civil war, the Israeli-Lebanese war of summer 2006, and the Syrian war in the wake of the Arab spring. It will also focus on the role of memory in bridging dislocated narratives between the Near East and Europe. The project engages analytically with the creative forms of expression attending the current mass migrations, offering historical depth to the understanding of the cultural roots of recent movements and experiences. While aiming to bring the expertise of area studies to bear on the radical new artistic forms, the study will also aim to contribute on the side of visual studies and the study of comic and graphic narratives. It will seek to do so both by expanding the reach of these fields to include contemporary authors of Arab background writing in Arabic and different European languages, and by exploring the possibility of a comparative approach to the visual aesthetics of conflicted memory.

Yoav Di-Capua

is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he teaches modern Arab Intellectual History. He received his PhD from Princeton University in 2004. He is the author of Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt (University of California Press, 2009). His new book, No Exit: Arab Existentialism, Jean Paul Sartre and Decolonization, is forthcoming with the University Press of Chicago. In the academic year 2017/18, he will be a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Sacred Cure: Political Theology and the Post-Colonial Arab Order

Sacred Cure is a study of post-colonial Arab ontology that seeks to illuminate the cultural transition from the national projects of the 1950s and 1960s (Nasserism and Baʿthism) to that of Islamic fundamentalism thereafter. Rather than viewing these two movements in separation as two consecutive projects that have nothing in common, Sacred Cure suggests that the two trends developed strikingly similar strategies to transcend the post-colonial condition. Though the scholarly consensus upholds the idea of difference (as in secular versus religious), in reality both movements mirrored each other and developed very similar, if not identical, notions of sovereignty, freedom, authenticity, sacrifice and salvation. These notions functioned as the organizational principles of an ontological field in which “the political is existential.” At stake in such politics is the possibility and promise of communal redemption. To say that for Nasserism, Baʿthism and Islamic Fundamentalism the political is existential is to refer to the ways in which they created, promoted and maintained a sacred political experience with its own institutions, norms, ethics, moral space, rituals, ethos and distinct sense of history. Conceived as a deep study of decolonization, Sacred Cure ventures into the field of political theology to examine how an organization of politics that is founded on the imagination of the sacred becomes an article of faith that shaped everyday life for millions of people around the region both before and after the 1967 War.

Pascale Ghazale

is an Associate Professor of History at the American University in Cairo. She specializes in Ottoman history and 19th-century Egypt. She received her PhD in History from the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris. She has published research on the social organization of craft guilds in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Egypt, and on the material culture and social networks of merchants in Cairo during the same period. During her time as a EUME Fellow, she will be working on a project about ownership practices and their relation to the constitution of national resources in late nineteenth-century Egypt. In the academic year 2017/18 and in summer 2019, she will be a EUME-FU Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

The Property of the People: The Battle for National Wealth and Citizens’ Rights in Late Nineteenth-Century Egypt

The process of state-building in Egypt during the nineteenth century involved a degree of brutality, as individuals experienced increasingly direct government in the form of military conscription, tax collection, recruitment for public work projects, and census-taking. Ghazale wishes to investigate whether the abstract idea of national resources as the basis of the national economy – viewed increasingly as an autonomous sphere in later years – developed as a response to various forms of expropriation to which citizens were subjected as part of a drive toward “colonial administrative-market unification,” in Benedict Anderson's words. Rather than focusing on ways in which intellectuals from newly educated classes formulated this idea, she wants to look at how different social groups laid claim to resources in the name of their Egyptian-ness.

Zeina G. Halabi

is Assistant Professor of Arabic Literature at the American University of Beirut. She specializes in modern Arabic literature with particular interest in questions of loss, mourning, and dissidence in contemporary literature and visual culture. She was a 2012-13 EUME Fellow at the Forum Transregionale Studien in Berlin, where she began working on her first book, entitled The Unmaking of the Arab Intellectual: Prophecy, Exile, and the Nation (Edinburgh University Press, 2017), that examines the depiction of Arab intellectuals in post-1990s fiction and film. She has authored articles on the shifting notion of political commitment in the writings of canonical and emerging Arab writers. She is currently working on her second book project provisionally entitled Excavating the Present: History, Power, and the Arab Archive, which explores archival practices in contemporary literature. She received her BA from the American University of Beirut (2001), MA from the London School of Economics (2003), and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin (2011). She will be a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Excavating the Arab Present: History, Power, and the Archive

Halabi’s current book project examines the ways in which contemporary writers excavate the Arab cultural archive in search for past narratives that make legible the Arab world in gestation. She reads the archive as a repository for cultural memory and a device of knowledge and power that structures it. Addressing a palimpsest of contemporary works in cinema, visual art, literature, and music from Egypt, Lebanon, and Palestine, her book reveals the ways in which the reexamination of the Arab archive by practices of excavation enables cultural actors to articulate a novel interpretation of the past and envision the future. It suggests that contemporary excavation practices are not a nostalgic return to an imagined Arab identity and a statement on cultural authenticity. Rather, they are the means by which artists and writers articulate an overarching disenchantment with the ways stories of the Arab past had hitherto been transmitted and an effort to create a field of meaning for the future. As she proposes alternatives to the ahistorical and presentist scholarly approaches that have governed research on the contemporary Arab world, Halabi reveals the ways in which archival and excavation practices can answer ontological questions in time of wars and uprisings.

Jens Hanssen

is Associate Professor of Arab Civilization, Modern Middle Eastern Studies and Mediterranean History. During his Sabbatical in the academic year 2017/18, he holds a Vertretungsprofessur at the Department of Arabic and Islamic Studies, University of Göttingen, and is an associated EUME Fellow. He received his PhD in Modern History from Oxford University in 2001 and joined the University of Toronto the following year. He held junior research fellowships at the American University of Beirut and the Deutsche Morgenländische Gesellschaft in Beirut, University of Aix-en-Provence/Marseille, and a postdoc fellowship by the Thyssen Foundation. He currently holds a SSHRC Insight Grant (2014-2018) on “German-Jewish Echoes in 20th-century Arab Thought.”
Jens Hanssen’s overall research progamme explores the intellectual entanglements between Europe, North Africa and the Middle East since the late 19th century. He is interested in the connection between intellectual trends and urban culture, the rationalities of late Ottoman rule in the Arab provinces; diffraction, atheology, translation and travelling theory. His writings have appeared in The New Cambridge History of Islam, Critical Inquiry, Arab Studies Journal, the International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies and www.hannaharendt.net - Zeitschrift für Politisches Denken.
His past book publications include Fin de Siècle Beirut (OUP, 2005); with Max Weiss, Arabic Thought beyond the Liberal Age: Towards an Intellectual History of the Nahda (CUP, 2016). The second CUP volume, Arabic Thought Against the Authoritarian Age, also co-edited with Max Weiss (Princeton), and a translation of Nafir Suriyya with Hicham Safieddine (King’s College) for the University of California Press are forthcoming. He is currently co-editing the OUP Handbook of Contemporary Middle Eastern and North African History with Amal Ghazal (Simon Fraser U).

"North Africa and the Middle East at the Global Fin de Siècle" & "German and Jewish Echoes in 20th-Century Arab Thought"

During his Sabbatical, Jens Hanssen hopes to continue his work on two book projects: The first is a cultural history of the spectres of degeneration and discourses of regeneration from the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to World War I. The second investigates the effects of Central-European writers on Arab intellectuals, and conversely, the place of the Middle East and Islam in the invention of a Judeo-Christian civilization.

Alisa Lebow

is a documentary film scholar and filmmaker who received her PhD in Cinema Studies at NYU. She is known for her work on first person film and questions of ‘the political’ in documentary, most recently innovating in the area of practice-led research, with her interactive database documentary, Filming Revolution, about independent and documentary filmmaking in Egypt since the revolution. Lebow has published her research widely in edited collections and in journals such as Film Quarterly, Journal for Visual Anthropology, Arab Studies Journal, Theory and Event and Camera Obscura. She is the recipient of numerous grants and fellowships from the Leverhulme Trust, UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Academy, New York Foundation for the Arts, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, and many more. Her books include The Cinema of Me (Wallflower, 2012), First Person Jewish (University of Minnesota Press, 2008) and A Companion to Contemporary Documentary (co-edited with Alexandra Juhasz, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015). As a filmmaker, her work includes For the Record: The World Tribunal on Iraq (2007), Treyf (1998) and Outlaw (1994). Lebow has taught in New York, Istanbul, Bristol and London. She is currently a reader in Film Studies at the University of Sussex. From September to November 2017, she will be an associated EUME Fellow.

Filming Revolution: A Meta-Documentary about Filmmaking in Egypt since the Revolution


Filming Revolution is an interactive data-base documentary about independent and documentary filmmaking in Egypt since the revolution. Practicing a new type of film studies, the project brings together the collective wisdom and creative strategies of media-makers in Egypt before, during and after the revolution. The website consists of 30 interviews with Egyptian filmmakers, artists, activists and archivists, discussing their work and their ideas about how (and whether) to make films in the time of revolution. The video interviews with the activist-practitioners were conducted in Egypt between 2013-14. In addition to the lively interview material, the project features examples of the work discussed and short interactive articles about all of those interviewed and the themes raised in the interviews. To prepare the material for this project, Lebow edited all of the video interviews into short thematic segments and has worked with a talented coder to devise an original platform whereby algorithms link the material by theme, person, or project. Filming Revolution (funded by the Leverhulme Trust with additional support provided by the University of Sussex) is currently being expanded and reconfigured for the online publication of the project by Stanford University Press as part of their new digital humanities initiative. The launch date for the SUP publication is January 2018.

Margaret Litvin

is Associate Professor of Arabic and Comparative Literature at Boston University, USA. Her first book, Hamlet’s Arab Journey: Shakespeare’s Prince and Nasser’s Ghost (Princeton, 2011; published in Arabic translation by Soha Sebaie in 2017), examined the many reworkings of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the theatre and political rhetoric of postcolonial Egypt, Syria, and Iraq. She co-edited and partly translated a companion anthology of translations, Four Arab Hamlet Plays (New York: Martin E. Segal Theatre Center, 2016). More recently, Litvin has focused on reconstructing the tangled legacies of Arab writers’ experiences in Russia and the Soviet Union. Her articles, reviews, and artist interviews have appeared in Journal of Arabic Literature, Critical Survey, PAJ: A Journal of Performing Arts, Theatre Research International, PMLA, several Shakespeare journals, and the online venues Marginalia Review of Books, Words Without Borders, and n+1.
Born in Moscow, Litvin holds a PhD in Social Thought from the University of Chicago and a BA in Humanities from Yale. Her research has been awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship (Yale University) and an ACLS Frederick Burkhardt Fellowship to work at the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies in Uppsala, Sweden (2015-16). In summer 2016 and in the academic year 2017/18, Litvin is a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Arab Writers, Moscow Dreams

Throughout the Arab encounter with western-driven modernity, Russian and Soviet cultural products provided models against which Arab thinkers developed their ideas and styles. Even beyond any particular Russian novel or film, the idea of Russia (and later the Soviet Union) exerted a magnetic pull on Arab intellectual life. Russia was a potent exemplar: a civilization that had managed to overtake and even join Europe without giving up its cultural integrity or its status as an alternative to Western culture.
This research will yield a book of essays on the history of Arab-Russian and Arab-Soviet literary and cultural ties since the mid-nineteenth century, focused especially on the period between 1964 and 1990. The prehistory of these cultural ties includes al-Azhar scholar Muhammad Ayyad al-Tantawi (1810-61), who moved to St. Petersburg in the 1830s; and the great Lebanese writer Mikhail Nuʿaymah (1889-1988), who studied in Poltava (now Ukraine) in 1908. The history can be reconstructed through figures such as Egyptian novelist Sonallah Ibrahim and Syrian director Mohammad Malas, who were among hundreds of Arab intellectuals to study in Russia in the 1970s, and two later generations of writers, theatre and filmmakers, and their Arab-Russian children. The project focuses not on Russia’s “influence” but on Arab intellectuals’ responses. It draws on novels, memoirs, poetry collections, travelogues, journalistic reports, documentary films, and archival research in Moscow, Cairo, and Berlin, as well as personal interviews with living writers, filmmakers, and other alumni of Soviet educational institutions.

Lamia Moghnieh

received her PhD in Social Work and Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She also holds an MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago and an MA in Psychology from the American University of Beirut. In her dissertation “Humanitarian Psychology in War and Postwar Lebanon: Violence, Therapy and Suffering”, she examines the humanitarian process of psychologizing suffering from war and displacement from Israel’s invasion in 1982 to the Syrian Refugee crisis in 2012. Based on 18 months of ethnographic fieldwork, this research looks at how humanitarian psychology — a new form of expertise — sought to produce therapeutic subjects that both experts and communities in Lebanon contested, appropriated and negotiated. In 2016/17, Moghnieh was a postdoctoral fellow of the Arab Council for the Social Sciences (ACSS), affiliated with the SOAM department at the American University of Beirut. She recently took part in a collective special issue publication in Contemporary Levant on “Ethnography as Knowledge in the Arab Region”, contributing a paper on “The Violence We Live In: Reading and Experiencing Violence in the Field” (2:1, 2017, 24-36). In the academic year 2017/18, she is a EUME Fellow.

Global Mental Health at the Periphery: A Social History of Psychiatry, Humanitarianism and Violence in Lebanon (1860–2012)

The project examines the history and development of modern psychiatry in Lebanon, starting from the first humanitarian intervention in Ottoman Syria in 1860 — and the foundation of the first psychiatric institution in 1900 Ottoman Lebanon and the Levant — to the present day. The project looks at the entanglements between humanitarianism and psychiatric science as two projects of modernization and rehabilitation of subjects in the Middle East. Lebanon represents a powerful case for how both of these projects unfolded to produce new forms of therapeutic subjects in Lebanon, especially with regards to violence and war. More specifically, the project looks at 1) the psychiatric reforms in the late 19th-century Lebanon; 2) how modern psychiatry classified and diagnosed various social transformations in 20th-century Lebanon and 3) how humanitarianism psychologized violence and war, creating new forms of therapeutic subjects in Lebanon. Deeply committed to a multidisciplinary approach, Moghnieh situates her project at the intersection of critical medical anthropology, the history of science and society and Middle East History. The book is a mixture of ethnography, archival research and interviews with psychiatrists in Lebanon. The archival research is based on collected records of the Lebanon Hospital for Mental and Nervous Disorders — popularly known as Asfourieyh hospital (1901-82) —, scientific journals and various magazines.

Arturo Monaco

is a PhD holder in Civilizations, Cultures and Societies of Asia and Africa, Sapienza University of Rome (2016). His PhD dissertation explores the surrealist trend in modern Arabic literature, with a special focus on the surrealist manifestations in Egypt, Syria and Lebanon between the 1930s and 1960s. He also holds an MA in Oriental Languages and Civilizations from Sapienza University of Rome (2012). During the academic year 2016/17, he was a lecturer of modern Arabic literature at Sapienza University of Rome. His research interests include modern Arabic poetry, Arab literary press, intercultural exchanges between Arabic and foreign literatures. In 2018, he will be a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the DAAD.

Sufism and Surrealism in ʿIṣām Maḥfūẓ’s poetry

The project is part of a larger research that aims to investigate the different manifestations of surrealism in modern Arabic literature. After having examined the first Arabic forms of surrealism in his PhD dissertation, Monaco now studies a number of poets who gave their personal contribution to the process of adoption and adaptation of surrealism in Arabic poetry. In particular, this project will take the Lebanese poet and playwright ʿIṣām Maḥfūẓ (1939-2006) as a case study. Acquainted with surrealism very early in his career, he was soon able to elaborate a personal interpretation of it, being among the first ones who linked it with Sufism. Drawing on the early studies on the encounter of Western surrealism with mysticism [Chabrun 1943; Balakian 1947; Carrouges 1947] and following Hédi Abdel-Jaouad’s concept of soufialisme, ʿIṣām Maḥfūẓ’s poetry will be read as a twofold experience where the surrealist and the Sufi trends meet each other. Far from the overlapping of two monolithic experiences, this encounter has to be intended as the interaction of two protean creatures who find in poetry a shared field of expression.

Alia Mossallam

holds a PhD in Political Science. Her dissertation explores a popular history of Nasserist Egypt through stories told and songs sung by people behind the 1952 revolution. She has taught at the American University in Cairo (AUC), the Cairo Institute for Liberal Arts and Sciences (CILAS), and holds the series of workshops ‘Reclaiming Revolutionary Histories’ with students, activists and artists in governorates all over Egypt, an experiment in history-telling. In the spirit of making histories more accessible, she also worked – e.g. in the case of the play Hawwa al-Hureyya (Whims of Freedom) – with a number of theatre practitioners to document revolutionary experiences of the present, explore alternative histories of the past, and recreate them on stage. She continues to look for these stories and songs in an attempt to recover and document a lost history of popular movement in Egypt.
Her publications include an article on youth activism in the volume Democratic Transition in the Middle East, a workers’ history of the Aswan High dam in the Journal of Water History, and an article on history workshops in Egypt in the History Workshop Journal. She also writes for Mada Masr. In 2017 and 2018, Mossallam is a EUME-FU Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

‘Hekāyāt Shaʾb – Stories of Peoplehood’: Nasserism, Popular Politics and Songs in Egypt, 1956–1974

“The simsimiyya gives voice to those whom history forgets”  

This research is driven by an interest in alternative narratives of the 1952 Military Coup in Egypt – an event widely celebrated as a revolution that continues to influence people's general consciousness of the role of the military in revolutionary politics until this day. For her study, Mossallam explores the milestones of this "revolution", namely the 1956 war on Port Said (the Suez War), the building of the Aswan High Dam and the duration of the war of attrition in Suez (between the Six-Day War in 1967 and the Yom Kippur War in 1973). Her aim, however, is to research the popular experiences behind these events, the experiences of the popular resistance in the wars, and the stories of the builders of the High Dam and the Nubians displaced by it. What was the popular involvement of everyday people in this monumental event? To what extent were the Nasserist ideas hegemonic? Why did people take on these ideas and why were they willing to sacrifice for them? Relying mainly on ethnography, Mossallam’s research explores these experiences through the songs people sang about the events and through researching intimate languages within the communities she explores. Thus, the study answers, in a theoretical sense, the questions of: How do people document their experiences if they differ from mainstream history? What can oral forms of popular culture and intimate languages (songs, poetry, idioms) tell us about the histories of communities that cannot 'write' their histories? Five years into the 2011 revolution, Mossallam works on revising her PhD thesis to illustrate a hidden legacy of popular struggle that persists till this day, despite the attempts by nationalist and military histories to overpower them.

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Ibrahim al-Mursi - Poet, Port Said. A simsimiyya is a traditional string instrument of Port Said

Wendy Pearlman

is Associate Professor of Political Science and the Martin and Patricia Koldyke Outstanding Teaching Professor at Northwestern University, where she specializes in the comparative politics of the Middle East. Pearlman’s new book, We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled: Voices from Syria (HarperCollins, 2017), chronicles the Syrian uprising and war through a mosaic of testimonials collected from 2012 through 2017 from more than 300 displaced Syrians across the Middle East, Europe, and the United States. Pearlman is also the author of two other books, Violence, Nonviolence, and the Palestinian National Movement (Cambridge University Press, 2011) and Occupied Voices: Stories of Everyday Life from the Second Intifada (Nation Books, 2003), as well as dozens of essays, articles, or book chapters. She holds a BA from Brown University, an MA from Georgetown, and a PhD from Harvard. She was a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, a Starr Foundation Fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad at the American University in Cairo, a Junior Peace Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace, and a postdoctoral Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. She has studied or conducted research in Spain, Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey, Germany, Israel, and the West Bank and Gaza Strip. In summers 2016, 2017 and 2018, Pearlman is a EUME-CNMS Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Syrian Refugees in Germany: Integration, Identity, and the Lived Experience of Exile

Pearlman spent the first summer conducting interviews with Syrian refugees for We Crossed A Bridge and It Trembled and completing writing of the manuscript. During the other summers, she will launch a new project on the evolving experiences of Syrian asylum-seekers in Germany. Her field research will focus on questions of integration, identity, fulfillment of professional aspirations, and the lived experience of exile during this stage.

Fatima Tofighi

is Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Religions (Qom, Iran), where she teaches a variety of topics on theories and methods in religious studies, feminist approaches to religion, biblical interpretation, and hermeneutics, among other things. She holds a PhD in Literature and Theology from the University of Glasgow (UK). Before that, she studied English Literature, as well as Islamic Theology and Law in Qom seminaries. She published the first Farsi translation of the Book of Mormon, among other translations. In her monograph Paul’s Letters and the Construction of the European Self (Bloomsbury, 2016), Tofighi arguments that Paul transgresses the limits of Europe. She deals with the ways that European biblical interpretation was based on certain theological and political categorizations rather than others that contributed to the construction of certain boundaries and particular kinds of subjects that shaped the particular kinds of religious interpretation on which European intellectual thought is based. At the moment, she is directing her research on philosophical explorations of the body, especially in modernity. In the academic year 2017/18, she is a EUME Fellow.

A Cultural History of the Body in the Work of Modern Iranian Intellectuals 1960–1980

This research rests on the assumption that (1) the conceptions of the body have changed over time, (2) these conceptions affect the cultivation of the body. Islamic Reform of the mid-nineteenth century was a turning point in the formation of the discursive body in many Islamic countries. The effect of this turning point can be witnessed in the work of Iranian intellectuals, just before the Iranian Revolution of 1979. In this research, Tofighi will explore the predominance of medical jargon in modern religious literature, especially as it relates to gender issues. She will work on the conceptions of the body — what are the male and female ideal bodies and sexualities, the control of both male and female promiscuity through medical and religious license (or lack thereof), an understanding of female body as a sealed (and hence veiled) container, the shame and honor of the body, and so on. She will also study how these conceptions of the body are related to larger economic and political issues — the relation between the body and socio-economic class, the meaning of freedom (as encompassing both physical and socio-political issues), the anxiety of protecting the body against male (and imperialist or colonialist) violation, and the explanation of the role of the body in family economics (the strong breadwinning man versus the delicate and sexually available woman). While these ideas can be investigated on different levels, from expert religious books to lay religious literature and pop culture, this research is confined to the work of modern Iranian religious intellectuals from 1960-1980 — Morteza Motahhari, Ali Shariati, Mahdi Bazargan, and the authors of Maktab-e Islam monthly.

Yektan Türkyilmaz

received his PhD from Duke University Department of Cultural Anthropology. He taught courses at University of Cyprus, Sabancı, Bilgi and Duke Universities addressing the debates around the notions of collective violence, memory making and reconciliation. He is working on his book manuscript based on his dissertation, Rethinking Genocide: Violence and Victimhood in Eastern Anatolia, 1913-1915, that addresses the conflict in Eastern Anatolia in the early 20th century and the memory politics around it. Yektan Türkyilmaz has been a 2014/15 EUME Fellow and returns as a EUME Fellow for the academic years 2017/18 and 2018/19.

Roots and Routes of a Catastrophe: The Context and Afterlife of the Armenian Genocide (1915-2015)


Türkyilmaz’s current project traces the genealogies of historiographical threads on the Armenian Genocide. Such a research involves a critical reassessment of the representations of the Armenian Genocide in multiple languages and formats, namely, in scholarly and popular histories, in memoirs, in visual arts as well as in literature and music. This project is inspired by two major concluding observations in his previous research. The first one is about how the Armenian Genocide as a process, ironically, has served as a ‘creative’ and generative reference that helped foster novel ideological formations redefining boundaries of inclusion and exclusion. Particularly crucial in this trajectory is that the Armenian Genocide sets an exemplary case for many other instances of collective violence in the broader region of the Middle East. Further, it marked the emergence of ongoing tensions in the region between authoritarian secularism and Islamist models for modernization, between predatory ethno-nationalist or exclusionary religious movements that advocate social/demographic purity, and advocates pluralist cultural traditions.
Emergent threads in historiography have not simply reflected new faces of these tensions but also have turned into a major force in redefining the terms of these controversies. Along those lines, Türkyilmaz’s second and consequent observation is that what we observe today in the countries that emerged from the Ottoman Empire is indeed a dynamic and renewed and not simply a stagnant and ancient conflict. Unlike currently available works on the historiography of the conflict, this project seeks to go beyond methodological nationalisms or the fetishisation of particular archives. Rather than focusing on one thread of narrative construction in isolation, Türkyilmaz proposes to put these threads of historical writings and cultural productions in dialogue as well as locating them in their local, regional and broader global contexts. He suggests that it is within these geo-political and historical scales that these historiographical traditions were formulated, and simultaneously challenged and co-constructed each other.

Zeynep Türkyilmaz

received her PhD from the Department of History at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2009. Her dissertation, “Anxieties of Conversion: Missionaries, State and Heterodox Communities in the Late Ottoman Empire”, is based on intensive research conducted in Ottoman, British, and several American missionary archives. She was an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Sawyer Seminar Postdoctoral Fellow at UNC-Chapel Hill (2009-10) and a EUME Fellow (2010-11). She worked at Dartmouth College as an Assistant Professor of History (2011-16), and as program coordinator and research fellow at Koc University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations. She is currently finishing her book project based on her dissertation. Her research and teaching interests include state-formation, gender, nationalism, colonialism and religion with a focus on heterodoxy and missionary work in the Middle East from 1800 to the present. In the academic year 2017/18, she is a EUME Fellow.

An Archeology of Today: Tracing the Genealogies of Yezidi Victimhood

This project is a long durée study of Yezidi victimization and their narratives, tracing their manifold manifestations from 1700s until 2014 genocide. It is essentially a critique of ahistorical and uniform characterizations of Yezidis as an ever-persecuted people. Informed by Foucault’s archeology of knowledge, which enforces an inquiry of multi-dimensional, multi-linear processes formed by discontinuities, contingencies and the choices of actors, thus opening up the possibility of dissonant discourses, this project brings in complexities of Yezidi agency and actorship. Drawing on extensive archival research and recently published oral testimonies of survivors, the project moves away from the portrayal of Yezidis only as meek, passive, converted and persecuted peoples, and studies them as local rulers, and powerbrokers between empires; armed and resilient, fighting back on their Sunni neighbors’ intrusions, sometimes initiating attacks, and always resisting state’s attempts to infiltrate in matters relating to their identity, as well as socio-economic well-being, conscription, and taxation alike. Her focus is on their demands and responses to introduction of citizenship, as well as redefinition of communal coexistence in their local settings at high-altitude and remote corners of these political entities. In so doing, she hopes to illustrate how Yezidi subjecthood has been reshaped at the intersection of modernizing empires and nation-states.

Deniz Yonucu

received her PhD from the Department of Anthropology at Cornell University in 2014. Her background is in Anthropology and Sociology. Her work draws substantially from critical legal studies, critical criminology, postcolonial studies, and political philosophy. Her research focuses on anti-terror law, the criminalization of ethnicized and racialized working-class youth, sites of urban segregation and violence, and legal and extra-legal policing/security practices. She holds two MA degrees in Social Sciences from the University of Chicago and in Sociology from Boğaziçi University. Funded by the Wenner-Gren Foundation and the Middle East Research Competition of the Ford Foundation, her dissertation, entitled “Operations of Law and Sovereignty from Below: Youth, Violence and Disorder in Urban Turkey”, focuses on Alevi populated working class neighbourhoods in Istanbul and analyzes the complex and constitutive relationship between law, violence, crime, and sovereignty in Turkey. She has published a number of articles and opinion pieces related to these areas of research. From February 2016 to January 2018, she is a EUME-ZMO Fellow of the Alexander von Humboldt-Stiftung.

Violence and Counter-Violence in Istanbul’s Working-Class Alevi Neighbourhoods: Crime, Policing and Counter-Police Policing

Yonucu is currently working on her first book project, tentatively entitled Violence and Counter-Violence in Istanbul’s Working-Class Alevi Neighbourhoods: Crime, Policing and Counter-Police Policing. In addition to her dissertation, she has also included another research within the scope of her manuscript, because she wanted to consider the impact of the massive 2012 Gezi Park protests in the Alevi neighbourhoods. During the protests, all murdered youth were Alevis, and after the protests, the police violence specifically targeted their neighbourhoods. This was then met by the counter-violence of the residents. In order to examine these dynamics, Yonucu conducted a brief post-dissertation research on the emerging forms of counter-violence in these neighbourhoods between April 2014 and February 2015. She now is in the process of integrating these research findings into her dissertation. In the manuscript, she argues that the contemporary security regime is not necessarily limited to that of the state police, and that the provocation of counter-violence is key to the state security apparatus today.