Visiting Scholars & Fellows
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2019)
Hussein Abdulsater (PhD Religious Studies, Yale 2013) is assistant professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic culture in the Department of Classics at the University of Notre Dame.
His research focuses on the interaction between Islamic theology, classical Arabic literature and historiography.
His book, Shiʿi Doctrine, Muʿtazili Theology (Edinburgh University Press, 2017) won the World Award for Book of the Year of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
At the Middle East Institute, he will offer an advanced seminar covering major themes in Islamic theology. The seminar combines close reading of selected primary texts and deep engagement with their broader contexts as discussed in secondary literature.
Visiting Scholar (Fall 2019-Spring 2020)
Raphael Cormack has a PhD in Arabic literature from the University of Edinburgh. His thesis looked at 20th Century Egyptian translations and adaptations of Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex. His primary research interests include Arabic theatre, literature and popular culture as well as the reception of Ancient Greek literature in the modern Arab world.
He is also an active translator from Arabic to English and has edited two collections of modern Arabic short stories, The Book of Khartoum (Comma Press, 2016 [with Max Shmookler]) and The Book of Cairo (Comma Press, 2019).
At Columbia he will be researching Cairo’s early 20th century entertainment scene, with a particular focus on female actresses, dancers, singers and film makers. His book on the subject is forthcoming in 2020 with Saqi Books.
Arcapita Visiting Professor in Modern Arab Studies (Spring 2019)
Rana Barakat is assistant professor of history and contemporary Arab studies at Birzeit University in Palestine. Her research interests include the history and historiography of colonialism, nationalism, and cultures of resistance. She earned her Ph.D. in history from the University of Chicago and has since published in several venues including the Journal of Palestine Studies,Jerusalem Quarterly, Settler Colonial Studies, and Native American and Indigenous Studies. She is currently completing a book monograph, "The Buraq Revolt: Constructing a History of Resistance in Palestine," which argues that this revolt was the first sign in the Mandate period of sustained mass resistance to the settler-colonial project, including direct and rhetorical actions against both political Zionism and British imperialism, planting seeds of mass political mobilization. She is currently working on a second book monograph titled "Lifta and Resisting the Museumification of Palestine: Indigenous History of the Nakba", which advances an indigenous understanding of time, space, and memory in Palestine by focusing on the details of the people and place of Lifta village over time
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2018)
Behnam Sadeghi researches the history of Islamic thought in areas such as jurisprudence, gender, theology, and scriptures. He is the author of a book on philosophy of law: The Logic of Law Making in Islam: Women and Prayer in the Legal Tradition (Cambridge University Press, 2013). He also has publications on the early history of the Qur’an and the Hadith. He has taught courses on gender, political Islam, Islamic history, Islamic law, Islamic theology, history of moral theory, virtue ethics, social theory, method in the social versus natural sciences, and theory in the study of religion.
Visiting Scholar (Fall 2018)
Hande Gurses holds a PhD in Literary Studies from University College London. She was previously Visiting Lecturer in the Comparative Literature Program at UMass Amherst, where she taught courses on international short story, dystopian literatures, and ecocriticism. Her primary research interests include contemporary world literature, cosmopolitanism, ecocriticism, and critical animal studies. She is also interested in inclusive pedagogies and contemplative practices in higher education. At UMass Amherst she was the recipient of TIDE fellowship (Teaching for Inclusiveness, Diversity, and Equity) and an active member of the Contemplative Pedagogy Working Group.
She has published her work on Orhan Pamuk in Fear and Fantasy in a Global World (Brill/Rodopi 2015), Global Perspectives on Orhan Pamuk (Palgrave 2012) and other academic and non-academic journals. She is working on a monograph titled Poetics and Politics of the Bridge: Displacing Identities in Orhan Pamuk, which offers a thematic analysis of Pamuk’s oeuvre through the broader framework of world literature. Most recently she co-edited a volume on ecocritical approaches to contemporary Turkish literature titled Animals, Plants, and Landscapes: An Ecology of Turkish Literature and Film (forthcoming from Routledge Press). Her current book project examines the relation animals and sovereignty in the construction of national identity.
Arcapita Visiting Professor (Spring 2018)
Anaheed Al-Hardan is an assistant professor of sociology in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies at the American University of Beirut.
Her research is concerned with coloniality and resistance in relation to counter-memory, decolonial knowledges and south-south thought in the Arab World, and has appeareed in the Journal of Palestine Studies, Qualitative Inquiry, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, and the Journal of Holy Land and Palestine Studies. She is the author of the award-winning Palestinians in Syria: Nakba Memories of Shattered Communities (Columbia University Press, 2016), joint winner of the 2016 Academic Book Award at the London Palestine Book Awards. See here for a list of selected publications.
Her current book project examines Arab decolonial theory within the context of south-south philosophies of liberation and decolonization. At the MEI she is teaching a graduate course "The Decolonial Turn and West Asia".
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2017)
Asma Sayeed is Associate Professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures and Director of the Islamic Studies program at UCLA. Her primary research interests are in early and classical Muslim social history, the history of Muslim education, the intersections of law and social history, and women and gender studies. Her book, Women and the Transmission of Religious Knowledge in Islam (Cambridge University Press, 2013) analyzes Muslim women’s religious education, specifically their transmission of ḥadīth from the rise of Islam to the early Ottoman period.
She received her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University (2005). She was previously Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Lafayette College (Easton, PA), where she taught courses in Islam and World Religions. She has published on topics related to Muslim women and their religious participation in journals such as Studia Islamica and Islamic Law and Society and has contributed a number of encyclopedia articles on women’s history in early and classical Islam. In 2010, she undertook archival research in Syria on Muslim women’s education in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship.
Her current project relates to texts and textual practices in Islamic higher education in diverse regional and historical contexts. She has thus far developed her pilot study in the context of Moroccan higher education. This fall, at Columbia’s Middle East Institute, she will conduct research on the curricula of Iranian Shi’i institutions of higher education.
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Spring 2017)
Dr. Ziaka (Ph.D., University of Strasbourg, 2002) is Associate Professor of Religion and the scientific coordinator of the new Undergraduate Program on Islamic Studies at the School of Theology of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, and visiting professor at the Schools of Political Science and Education. She studied at the Institute of Arabic and Islamic Studies in Rome, the History Department of the Royal University of Amman, and has conducted research in Iran and Oman since 2006. Dr. Ziaka was a LUCIS Fall Fellow in 2014 (Leiden University Centre for the study of Islam and Society).
Her publications include La Recherche Grecque contemporaine et l’Islam (Strasbourg 2002 / Lille, 2004); Shi‘ism. Religious and Political Dimensions in the Middle East (Thessaloniki, 2004, in Greek); Between Polemics and Dialogue: Byzantine, Post Byzantine and Contemporary Greek Literature on Islam (Thessaloniki, 2010, in Greek); Interreligious Dialogue: The Meeting of Christianity with Islam (Thessaloniki, 2010, in Greek); Early Islamic Apocalyptic and Messianic Movements: Mahdi the Eschatological Savior (Thessaloniki, 2011, in Greek); Οn Ibadism (Hildesheim/N.Y., 2014); Kalam and the Islamic Trends of Thought (Thessaloniki, 2016, in Greek).
Carnegie Centennial Fellow (Fall 2016)
Dr. Sara Ababneh is Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. After receiving a BSc in Politics and Economics from Earlham College in Indiana and an MScEcon in International Politics from the University of Wales, Aberystywth, Dr. Ababneh earned her DPhil in Politics and International Relations from the St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 2010. Her dissertation topic focused on female Islamists in Hamas in occupied Palestine and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. Dr. Ababneh has conducted research on Mandate Palestine, gender and Islamism, and labor movements.
Currently, she is studying the popular Jordanian protest movement (al-Hirak al-Sha‘bi al-Urduni). While in residency at the MEI she worked on finishing the first draft of her book on the Hirak.
Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow (Fall 2016)
Dr. Abdulrahman al-Salmi is the Editor-in-Chief of the journal Al-Tafahom (Tolerance/Understanding) and an Omani expert on ancient Islamic manuscripts. He has authored numerous books including Early Ibadi Literature; Early Ibadi Theology; and Islamic Art in Oman. Dr. al-Salmi has taught Islamic studies at the Institute of Shariah Sciences in Muscat.
Dr. al-Salmi joined us as the Mahdi Visiting Research Fellow and worked on an edition of a hitherto unpublished old commentary of the Qur’an by the prominent 5th/11th century Mu’tazili scholar, al-Hakim al-Jushami (d. 494/1100). He gave two lectures on the importance of this commentary and on the methodology he adopts for producing an authoritative edition of it. The book will be published next year in ten volumes.
Visiting Scholar (Academic Year 2016-2017)
Dr. Kathryn Spellman Poots is Associate Professor at the Aga Khan University’s Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in the United Kingdom. She earned her MSc and PhD in Politics and Sociology from Birkbeck College, University of London. Her research interests include Muslims in Europe and North America; the Iranian diaspora; transnational migration networks; and gender and religion in the Middle East and North Africa. Her publications include the monograph: Religion and Nation: Iranian Local and Transnational Networks in Britain (Berghahn, Oxford and New York) as well as the edited volumes: The Political Aesthetics of Global Protest: The Arab Spring and Beyond (Edinburgh University Press); and Ethnographies of Islam: Ritual Performances and Everyday Practices (Edinburgh University Press). She consults for organisations focusing on the rights and experiences of refugees and minority groupings, including the UNHRC (Geneva), UNESCO (Paris), UK Foreign Office, US State Department, German Foreign Office, and the London Detainee Support Group.
Visiting Scholar (Fall 2016)
Dr. Rahemtulla serves as Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan’s School of International Studies, where he leads courses on Islam, human rights, and qualitative research methods. An Indo-Canadian Muslim, Dr. Shadaab Rahemtulla received his doctorate in Islamic thought at the University of Oxford in 2013. Dr. Rahemtulla also holds a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Arts in History from Simon Fraser University; a Master of Arts in Near and Middle East Civilizations from the University of Toronto. His book entitled Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) explores how contemporary Muslim thinkers have read and grappled with the Qur’an in the light of lived realities of marginalization, engaging questions of race, gender, class and pluralism.
Arcapita Visting Professor (2016-17)
Salim Tamari is Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University, West Bank, Palestine. He is also the director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies and adjunct professor at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University. Tamari studied at Birzeit College before receiving a B.A. in politics from Drew University in New Jersey, United States. He later received an M.A. in sociology from the University of New Hampshire and a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Manchester. Tamari has been a visiting fellow at the Aga Khan Program for Islamic Architecture at MIT, and has been a visiting professor at the University of California Berkeley, New York University, Cornell University, University of Chicago and Harvard University.
His publications include: The Mountain Against the Sea (University of California Press, 2008), Biography and Social History of Bilad al Sham (edited with I. Nassar, 2007, Beirut IPS), Pilgrims, Lepers, and Stuffed Cabbage: Essays on Jerusalem’s Cultural History (edited, with I. Nassar, IJS, 2005).
Visiting Assistant Professor (Fall 2015)
Hussein Ali Abdulsater is Assistant Professor of Arabic Culture and Islamic Studies at Department of Classics, University of Notre Dame. He received his Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University in 2013 and an M.A. in Arabic Language and Literature from the American University of Beirut in 2007. His research focuses on Muslim theological and ethical discourses in their interactions with each other and with non-Muslim discourses. His research is also concerned with depictions of major theological themes and schools in classical Arabic literature and historiography.
He has published articles on the confessional and communal development of Shiʿism, sixteenth-century Quranic exegesis and on the freedom of conscience in classical Islamic theology. His first book, Shiʿi Doctrine, Muʿtazili Theology: al-Sharīf al-Murtaḍā and the Systematization of Imami Discourse, was published in 2017 from Edinburgh University Press.