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Rebecca C Johnson


Rebecca C. Johnson
Director, Middle East and North African Studies Program

Rebecca C. Johnson (she/her/hers) is a scholar of comparative literature whose research focuses on literary exchanges between Arabic and European languages in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the history and theory of the novel, and studies of transnational literary circulation and translation. Her first book, Stranger Fictions: A History of the Novel in Arabic Translation (Cornell University Press, 2020), theorizes a cross-linguistic history of Arabic literary modernity by tracing the production and reception of translated fiction in the first decades of Middle Eastern novelistic production. Her new research looks to the history of contemporary Arab literary styles since the 1960s. She has also published translations of Arabic literature; her translation with the author of Sinan Antoon's I'jaam: An Iraqi Rhapsody was published in 2007, and most recently her translations of Faraj Bayrakdar's poetry have appeared in Dove in Free Flight (ed. Ammiel Alcalay and Shareah Taleghani, 2021). 

Professor Johnsons is Associate Editor of the Journal of Arabic Literature. At Northwestern, she is co-appointed in the Department of English and the Kaplan Institute for Humanities, and is core faculty in the Programs in Middle East and North African Studies and Comparative Literature. She was awarded the Weinberg College Distinguished Teaching Award in 2015 and the Weinberg College Distinguished Advising Award in 2013. She currently serves as the Director of Middle East and North African Studies.

Henri Lauziere


Henri Lauzière
Director of Undergraduate Studies, Middle East and North African Studies Program

Henri Lauziere is Associate Professor in the Department of History. His research interests lie at the intersection of Islamic intellectual history and the political history of Arab societies in both the modern Middle East and North Africa. His first book, The Making of Salafism: Islamic Reform in the Twentieth Century (New York: Columbia University Press, 2016), traces the history of Salafism as a concept and argues against the long-standing but largely mythical narratives of salafiyya embedded in the secondary literature. The book also uses the intellectual journey of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali (1894-1987), a Moroccan religious scholar and globetrotter, to illuminate the changing conceptions of Islamic reform within transnational Salafi networks over the course of the last century. The Making of Salafism thus identifies important factors and historical conjunctures that help to explain why self-proclaimed Salafis gradually abandoned the principles of Islamic modernism, or moderate reform (al-iṣlāḥ al-muʿtadil), and why they became increasingly and almost exclusively associated with a type of Islamic “purism” that appears to be arch-conservative. 


The Middle East and North African Studies Program is supported by the staff of the Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies (WCCIAS)

Bianca R. Jimenez


Bianca R. Jimenez
Associate Director, WCCIAS

Bianca has been at the University since 2006 working with various area studies programs including Asian Studies, International Studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and Middle East & North African Studies. She received her M.A. in Social Sciences with a concentration in Anthropology, from the University of Chicago. As Associate Director she oversees the administration of the center's programs and works with the faculty Directors to advise students, manage curricular development, and provide program management. Prior to joining Northwestern she worked for the Environmental and Conservation Program at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago where she worked closely with a local NGO in Peru, CIMA-Cordillera Azul to protect cultural diversity and land security, and to integrate improved quality of life into the management of Cordillera Azul National Park. While at the Museum, she also worked with the interactive program expeditions@fieldmuseum™, which followed Field Museum scientists as they conduct groundbreaking scientific research around the world and communicate it to a wider audience through dispatches, interactives and photos.

Contact Bianca for research workshops, event planning and information, graduate student cluster, visiting scholars, course guides.



Margaret Sagan
Program Coordinator, WCCIAS

Margaret Sagan is Program Coordinator of the Weinberg College Center for International and Area Studies, handling the center’s events. She joined the center in 2022. She co-authored the report “Responsible Coffee Sourcing: Towards a Living Income for Producers” in 2021, for the Columbia Center on Sustainable Investment (CCSI). She received her Master of International Affairs degree at Columbia University SIPA, performing field work in Malawi for the Business and Human Rights Clinic. She worked for a decade at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, where she managed visitor services, planned events including Jazz Showcase concerts and film screenings, and wrote the Close-Ups section of the Native Networks website.

Contact Margaret for information about event programming, communications, and honoraria.



Tiffany Williams-Cobleigh
Undergraduate and Graduate Coordinator, WCCIAS

Tiffany is a Program Assistant for the Center for International and Area Studies. She supports the International Studies Program, Latin American and Caribbean Studies Program, and Middle East and North African Studies Program. She has been at Northwestern since 2016 and was with the Program of African Studies before joining WCCIAS. She earned her M.A. in Sociology with a concentration in rural community and economic development from Western Illinois University through their graduate program for returned Peace Corps volunteers and worked with the University of Missouri Extension before coming to Northwestern. She did her Peace Corps service in Rwanda and continues to travel internationally each year.

Contact Tiffany for questions regarding CAESAR, course information, registration inquiries, permission numbers, graduate summer grants, special payments, student group co-sponsorships, undergraduate prizes.

Cindy Pingry


Cindy Pingry
Coordinator for Faculty Research Groups & Programming, WCCIAS

Cindy provides administrative support to the faculty research groups in the Center for International and Area Studies. She has worked in the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern for over 8 years and brings a wealth of knowledge and experience, having worked both in the Weinberg Dean’s office and in the Department of Economics. She’s played a key role in Weinberg College’s Convocation and has planned and managed a number of special events, lectures, colloquia, and conferences on campus. She’s had the opportunity to work with a wide range of faculty members and staff across Weinberg College. She likes learning about different cultures and travelling to experience all things first-hand. She enjoys the outdoors and likes to bike, hike, and sail. In the winter she likes to cross country ski. She also considers herself a “foodie”. Stop by the office and tell her an Aggie joke as she is a graduate of Texas A&M.

Contact Cindy regarding faculty research groups; zoom meeting information, event planning, honorariums, flyers and publicity,  and other inquires related to faculty research groups.



Joel Laureano
Faculty Research Groups & Programming, WCCIAS

Joel provides administrative support to the faculty research groups in the Center for International and Area Studies. 

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