I’m a historian of the modern Middle East, specializing in the period between the wars when much of the region was under French or British mandate—but still heavily influenced by its recent Ottoman past.
I took an undergraduate degree in Arabic at the University of Edinburgh, then moved to St Antony’s College, Oxford, for an MSt in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and a DPhil in Modern History. While working on my DPhil I lived in Syria and France; I also interrupted it to spend the academic year 2005-06 back in Edinburgh, lecturing in modern Middle Eastern history. I returned to Edinburgh after completing my doctorate as a postdoctoral research fellow at the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World, then spent 15 months in Princeton as a postdoctoral research associate in the Near Eastern Studies department. I started work at Birmingham in January 2011.
This year my undergraduate teaching is for first- and second-year students. I'm teaching first-year seminars on The Making of the Contemporary World, and two intensive study topics for Practising History (B), one on histories of nationalism in the Arab world and the other on the city of Paris. For second-year students I'm teaching option courses entitled “The Scum of the Earth”: refugees and statelessness in comparative perspective, 1914-1945 and Middle Eastern cities 1880–1960: cosmopolitanism, empire, and nationalism, as well as two intensive study topics for Critical Analysis, on histories of the Algerian War of Independence and sectarian violence in the Levant in the mid-nineteenth century.
At postgraduate level I am co-teaching the MA Contemporary History core course Globalisation since 1945.
I would be interested in supervising research on the Middle East in the century up to 1939, especially the mandate period; on the French and British mandates and the League of Nations; on France’s relationship with the Arab world, before, during, and after the colonial period; and on refugees and statelessness in the Middle East from the late Ottoman period to the Second World War.
My main current research project is on statelessness in the Levant between the First and Second World Wars—the period when the region’s modern nation-states emerged, some of them under British or French mandate. I’m also working towards a history of France’s relations with the Arab world with Dr Malika Rahal of the Institut d’histoire du temps présent, Paris. On a smaller scale, I’m also planning a research project on the Syrian state under French mandate—that is, the local state apparatus that developed under French supervision.
Since 2008, I’ve been coordinating an informal program of research on France’s relations with the Arab world with Dr Malika Rahal of the Institut d’histoire du temps présent, Paris. This has included organizing workshops and conference panels in Edinburgh, Boston, and Princeton.
My first book, The emergence of minorities in the Middle East: the politics of community in French mandate Syria is published by Edinburgh University Press. Read a sample chapter.
Other recent publications include:
“The Kurds of Damascus in the 1930s: development of a politics of ethnicity”, Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 46, no. 6 (2010), 901-917.
“Addressing the state: the Syrian culama’ protest personal status law reform, 1939”, a ‘quick study’ in International Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 42, no. 1 (2010), 10-12.
With Seda Altuğ: “Frontières et pouvoir d’État. La frontière turco-syrienne dans les années 1920 et 30”, Vingtième siècle. Revue d’histoire, no. 103 (2009/3), 91-104.
Personal profile on academia.edu