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New Directions in Middle East & North African Studies

The New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies series invites scholars from a range of disciplines taking new approaches to the study of the region. We have sought out particularly younger and early-mid career scholarsgenerally at the point of completing or having recently completed a first book and working on a second—whose work is not only compelling for what it tells us about its particular area of study, but for implementing or developing new methodologies for scholarly work in area studies. Given that the Northwestern MENA program is itself an interdisciplinary group, we invite scholars from a range of disciplines and who take comparative or transnational approaches to the region.

The project began with two two-day symposia that brought scholars from across the US and abroad to campus. A third symposia was held in Doha at the NU-Q campus and featured Northwestern’s own faculty in MENA studies. The Doha event led to the publication of a volume of collected essays, titled On the Ground: New Directions in Middle East and North African Studies, edited by MENA Director Brian Edwards, and available in both print and electronic editions. Since 2013, we have featured one New Directions speaker per quarter. Their visits feature meetings with graduate students, who have read their work prior to the campus visit (the program purchases and provides copies of the scholar’s book to MENA graduate students), and a public lecture. Future goals for the New Directions series include an edited volume of selected papers.

New Directions Lectures, Fall 2013-Present



Fall 2022
Can Açiksöz
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UCLA
Sacrificial Limbs: Masculinity, Disability, and Political Violence in Turkey (details)

Winter 2023
Munira Khayyat
Anthropology, the American University in Cairo
A Landscape of War: Ecologies of Resistance and Survival in South Lebanon (details)

Spring 2023
José Ciro Martínez
Lecturer in Politics, University of York; Junior Research Fellow, Trinity College, University of Cambridge
States of Subsistence: The Politics of Bread in Contemporary Jordan (details)


Winter 2022
Hatim El-Hibri
"Visions of Beirut: The Urban Life of Media Infrastructure" (details)

Fall 2021
Darryl Li
Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Lecturer in Law, University of Chicago
"The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity" (details)


Spring 2021
Lâle Can
Associate Professor of History, City College of New York & the CUNY Graduate Center
"Spiritual Subjects: Central Asian Pilgrims and the Ottoman Hajj at the End of Empire" (details)

Winter 2021
Rosie Bsheer
Assistant Professor of History, Harvard University
"Archive Wars: The Politics of History in Saudi Arabia" (details)


Spring 2020
Noora Lori
Assistant Professor of International Relations, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University
"Offshore Citizens: Permanent Temporary Status in the Gulf" (details)

Winter 2020
Nathalie Peutz
Associate Professor of Arab Crossroads Studies, NYU Abu Dhabi
"Islands of Heritage: Conservation and Transformation in Soqotra (Yemen)" (details)


Spring 2019
Alexander Bevilacqua
Assistant Professor of History, Williams College
"The Republic of Arabic Letters: Islam and the European Enlightenment" (details)

Winter 2019
Sami Hermez
Assistant Professor in Residence, Anthropology, Northwestern University in Qatar
"War Is Coming: Between Past and Future Violence in Lebanon" (details)

Fall 2018
Alireza Doostdar
Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies and the Anthropology of Religion, University of Chicago Divinity School
"Signs of Satan in Iran: Hollywood, Cosmopolitanism, Paranoia" (details)


Spring 2018
Omnia El Shakry
Professor of History, University of California, Davis
"The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt" (details)

Winter 2018
Nahid Siamdoust
Postdoctoral Associate, Yale Program in Iranian Studies, Council on Middle East Studies, MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies, Yale University
"Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran"

Fall 2017
Naor Ben-Yehoyada
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
"A Sea of Scales: Fishing and Region Formation between Sicily and Tunisia since World War II"


Spring 2017
Ghenwa Hayek
Assistant Professor of Modern Arabic Literature, University of Chicago
"When Abu Salim Went to Africa: Emigrant Anxieties in Lebanese Cinema"

Winter 2018
Sherene Seikaly
Associate Professor of History, University of California, Santa Barbara
"Men of Capital: Scarcity and Economy in Mandate Palestine"

Fall 2017
Keith Feldman
Assistant Professor of Comparative Ethnic Studies, UC Berkeley
"Between June ’67 and Global ’68: A Shadow History of Civil Rights and Decolonization"


Spring 2016
Lerna Ekmekçioğlu
McMillan-Stewart Career Development Associate Professor of History, MIT
"Recovering Armenia: Limits of Belonging in Post-Genocide Turkey"

Winter 2016
Aomar Boum
Assistant Professor of Anthropology, UCLA
"The Anti-Fascist Alliance: North African Jews and Muslims Partner Against French and Nazi Anti-Semitism, 1936-1940"

Fall 2015
Banu Bargu
Associate Professor of Politics, The New School
"Seeking Asylum: Lip-Sewing and Truth-Telling"


Spring 2015
Talinn Grigor
Associate Professor of Fine Arts, Brandeis University
“'Iranian or Not?' That Might Not Be the Question"

Winter 2015
Ussama Makdisi
Professor of History and the Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair of Arab Studies, Rice University
“Sectarianism in the Modern Middle East”

Fall 2014
On Barak
Senior Lecturer in Middle Eastern and African History, Tel Aviv University
“Coalolialism: Energy and Empire Before the Age of Oil”


Spring 2014
Orit Bashkin
Associate Professor of Modern Middle East History, University of Chicago
“Keeping the Hyphen Alive: Emile Habibi and Iraqi Jews in Israel”

Winter 2014
Tarek El-Ariss
Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies, University of Texas- Austin
“‘Hashtag Raid Leg by the Forces of Darkness:’ An Arab-Spring Tale”

Fall 2013
Samuli Schielke
Research Fellow, Zentrum Moderner Orient, Berlin
“Consequences of Writing Literature in Alexandria”