Faculty in the Arab Crossroads Studies Program at NYU Abu Dhabi come from all over the world with a wide range of teaching and research interests. You will find biographies, course listings, research and publications, and contact information on each faculty member's individual profile.
Research interests: Modern Africa, West Africa and the Sahara, Islam in Africa, religious traditions and practices in Africa, colonialism, expressions of popular culture, and slavery in and out of Africa.
Robert Allen's research aims to understand the process of economic growth. Why are some countries rich and others poor? This research is focused on measuring changes in living standards across Europe and Asia between 1600 and 1900, measuring and explaining productivity growth in English agriculture between 1300 and 1800, understanding the origins of modern technology and research and development in the industrial revolution, and studying the impact of imperialism on Asian economic growth between 1870 and 1940.
May Al-Dabbagh's current research projects include: the psychology of globalization; gender and negotiation; and intersections of family formation and women’s work in the Gulf Cooperative Council countries (GCC).
Georgi Derluguian has been conducting field research since the 1980’s on various guerrilla movements, revolutions and civil wars in Africa, Central Asia, and the Caucasus. He also studied the social origins of nationalist intellectuals and the politics of market reforms. Derluguian received numerous prestigious awards including Carnegie Scholar of Vision and Norbert Elias Prize. In 2006 the Times Literary Supplement listed Bourdieu’s Secret Admirer in the Caucasus: A Biography in World-Systems Perspective among its Books of the Year.
Andrew J. Eisenberg is an ethnomusicologist and sound culture researcher specializing in urban East Africa. He has carried out extensive research on vocal expression and social identity in Mombasa, Kenya, with the support of Fulbright Hays and the Social Science Research Council; and on the recording industry in Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the European Research Council “Music, Digitization, Mediation” project.He plays Arabic ‘ud and percussion, having studied and performed with Swahili and Arab musicians in Mombasa, and Palestinian musicians and New York.
A primary focus of Tarek Al-Ghousseins's studio teaching is developing a strong formal awareness among students and facilitating the ability to manifest ideas in visual form. As a Kuwaiti of Palestinian origin, much of Al-Ghoussein's professional work deals with how his identity is shaped in a context of inaccessibility and loss. His work explores the boundaries between landscape photography, self-portraiture and performance art. Choosing locations much in the same way a film director does, he moves between abstraction and the specific circumstances found in particular places. Relying on subtle interventions and non-invasive interactions, the images consider various aspects of "identity."
Dale Hudson's research examines film and new media through transnational and postcolonial frameworks, bringing film theory in dialogue with critical race and animal studies. His work appears in Afterimage, American Quarterly, Cinema Journal, French Cultural Studies, Journal of Film and Video, Screen, Studies in Documentary Film, and among other journals and anthologies, and his reviews in Afterimage, African Studies Review, Jadaliyya, and elsewhere. He is co-author with Patricia R. Zimmermann of Thinking through Digital Media: Transnational Environments and Locative Places.
Masha Kirasirova is a historian of exchanges between the Soviet Eurasia and the Middle East. Her work approaches modern Middle Eastern history from a “Second World” perspective. It brings together several hitherto separate scholarly domains: Soviet nationalities policy with regard to the USSR’s Muslim populations; social and cultural history of Stalinism in shaping the experience of Arab communists in the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s; cultural exchange with non-communist Arab leftist intellectuals during the Cold War; and the impacts of these exchanges on artistic, bureaucratic, and political practices inside the USSR and on those exported to Syria, Lebanon, Israel/Palestine, and Egypt.
Tenali Kukonnen's principal research interests lie in the history of Islamic theology, philosophy, and mysticism, all areas in which he has published widely. He also studies the Aristotelian tradition; late ancient, medieval, and Renaissance thought more generally; and the contemporary philosophy of religion.
Salwa Mikdadi is an Art Historian and Curator whose work spans over 25 years in the field of Arab art and museums. She is the author and editor of several books and essays on art of the Arab world, and was the curator of the first Palestinian Pavilion for 2009 Venice Biennial.
Lauren Minsky’s research integrates histories of environment, health, medicine, and material religion in the Indian Ocean world, with a past focus on the Punjab and Indus Valley and a current focus on pan-oceanic networks that span the wider region, including the Gulf. Her courses at NYUAD include a core course on Disease and Society and several history electives that include: South Asia in the Indian Ocean world; Islam in the Indian Ocean world; Global Environmental History; and Global History of Medicine.
John O’Brien is a sociologist whose research and teaching interests include culture, religion, social identity, immigration, ethnicity, and Islam and Muslims. His 2017 book, Keeping it Halal, is the result of a three and a half year ethnographic study of a group of Muslim teenagers coming of age in post-9/11 America.His articles have been published in the journals Social Psychology Quarterly and Contexts, and his paper on Muslim American youth and hip-hop culture was awarded the Best Student Paper Award from the Association for the Sociology of Religion. At NYUAD, he teaches courses on Religion and Society, Islam and Society, and Ethnographic Fieldwork.
Zeynep Ozgen has conducted extensive fieldwork in Turkey on religious mobilization, ethnic relations, and minority rights. Her current research project is an ethnographic and historical study of Islamist movements that use official and unofficial religious education sites to implement a quiet, gradual, and remarkably robust project of sociopolitical Islamization in Turkey since the late 1970s. Her other research explored how ethnic boundaries survive despite nationalist and assimilationist state policies. An article from this research, “Maintaining ethnic boundaries in “non-ethnic” contexts: constructivist theory and the sexual reproduction of diversity” appeared in Theory and Society (2015). She has previously held fellowships from the Social Science Research Council, Fulbright-Hays/IIE, the American Council for Learned Societies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, and the Council for European Studies.
Maurice Pomerantz’s research focuses on Arabic literature, literary performance, and comparative approaches to the study of premodern literatures. He is particularly interested in exploring the ways that economics, politics, and geography inform the reading of literary texts. Prior to his appointment at NYUAD, he taught for four years in the department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies (MEIS) at NYU New York.
Denise-Marie Tecce is interested in the study of art produced during the Qara Quyunlu, Aq Quyunlu and early Safavid periods, with a special focus on families of artists active in western Persia. Her investigations also explore the role of religious institutions as the patrons of and loci for manuscript production, and the visual/textual content of anthological manuscripts. Prior to joining NYU in Abu Dhabi, she worked for seven years at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in the Department of Islamic Art, and served as a curatorial consultant to the new Aga Khan Museum in Toronto. She has also held positions at the Brooklyn Museum, the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Musees royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Bruxelles.
Janet Afary, Professor of Religious Studies and Feminist Studies
Affiliation: University of California, Santa Barbara
Janet Afary is a native of Iran and a historian of modern Iran. She holds the Mellichamp Chair in Global Religion and Modernity at the University of California, Santa Barbara, where she is a Professor of Religious Studies and Feminist Studies. Her books include: Sexual Politics in Modern Iran (Cambridge University Press, 2009, winner of the British Society for Middle East Studies Annual Book Prize); The Iranian Constitutional Revolution: Grassroots Democracy, Social Democracy, and the Origins of Feminism (Columbia University Press, 1996, winner of Dehkhoda Institute Book Award; and (with Kevin B. Anderson) Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islamism (University of Chicago Press, 2005, winner of the Latifeh Yarshater Book Award for Iranian Women’s Studies).
Professor Afary taught History of Modern Iran at NYUAD in January 2015.
Zvi Ben-Dor, Professor of History
Affiliation: New York University New York
Areas of Research/Interest: Global History, Early Modern and Modern Chinese History, Asian and European Islam, Religion and World History, Middle Eastern History, History of Geography, Arab-Jewish and Mizrahi History.
Professor Ben-Dor taught Arab Crossroads in China at NYU Shanghai in January 2015.
Steve Caton, Professor of Contemporary Arab Studies in the Department of Anthropology Program
Affiliation: Harvard University
Steve Caton is an anthropologist of the Middle East specializing in Yemen. He has written three books, Peaks of Yemen I Summon (University of California Press, 1990), Lawrence of Arabia: a Film’s Anthropology (University of California, 1999), and Yemen Chronicle (Hill & Wang, 2005) along with numerous articles.
Professor Caton taught Anthropology and the Arab World at NYUAD in spring 2014.
Mark Cohen, Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus
Affiliation: Princeton University (Emeritus)
Mark R. Cohen is the Khedouri A. Zilkha Professor of Jewish Civilization in the Near East, Emeritus, and Professor of Near Eastern Studies, Emeritus, at Princeton University. His research over the years has focused on the documents of the Cairo Geniza. His books include Jewish Self-Government in Medieval Egypt, 1980; Al-mujtama‘ al-yahudi fi Misr al-islamiyya fi al-‘usur al-wusta (Jewish Life in Medieval Egypt 641-1382); Under Crescent and Cross: The Jews in the Middle Ages; Poverty and Charity in the Jewish Community of Medieval Egypt; and The Voice of the Poor in the Middle Ages: An Anthology of Documents from the Cairo Geniza. He edited the medieval section of A History of Jewish-Muslim Relations from the Origins to the Present Day. Since its inception in 1986 he has been the director of the Princeton Geniza Project, an on-line database of transcriptions of documents from the Cairo Geniza. He is currently finishing a book tentatively titled Law and Society in Maimonides’ Mishneh Torah: Codification in the Post-Talmudic Islamic Economy.
Professor Cohen taught Jews in the Muslim World in the Middle Ages in fall 2014.
Elias Khoury, Global Distinguished Professor of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies
Affiliation: NYU New York
The Lebanese writer Elias Khoury began his career as a literary critic with his book, Searching for a Horizon: The Arabic Novel After the Defeat of 1967 (1974). Professor Khoury then published his first novel, On the Relations of the Circle, (1975), and became part of the Beirut vanguard in modern Arabic literature, which was seeking to create new dimensions in the movement of modernism which began in the late forties with a revolution in poetry. He served on the editorial board of Mawakif Quarterly, and as the managing editor of Shu'un Falastinia (Palestine Affairs) and of Al Karmel Quarterly.
Professor Khoury has published 12 novels which have been translated into numerous languages, four books of literary criticism, and many articles and reviews. He is a public intellectual who plays a major role in the Arabic cultural scene and in the defense of the liberty of expression and democracy, and he is a cultural activist who directed the theatre of Beirut and co-directed the Ayloul Festival of Modern Arts in Beirut.
Professor Khoury has taught Cities and Modern Arabic Literature at NYUAD.
Ella Shohat, Professor of Cultural Studies
Affiliation: NYU New York
Her books include: Taboo Memories, Diasporic Voices (Duke Univ. Press, 2006); Israeli Cinema: East/West and the Politics of Representation (Univ. of Texas Press, 1989; Updated Edition with a new postscript chapter, I.B. Tauris, 2010); Talking Visions: Multicultural Feminism in a Transnational Age (MIT & The New Museum of Contemporary Art, 1998); Dangerous Liaisons: Gender, Nation and Postcolonial Perspectives (co-edited, Univ. of Minnesota Press, 1997); Between the Middle East and the Americas: The Cultural Politics of Diaspora (co-edited, The Univ. of Michigan Press, 2013, Honorable Mention in the Non-Fiction Category of the 2014 Arab American Book Award, The Arab American Museum); and with Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism (winner of the Katherine Kovacs Singer Best Book Award, Routledge, 1994; 2nd Edition for the book’s 20th Anniversary, with a new Afterward chapter, Routledge, 2014); Multiculturalism, Postcoloniality and Transnational Media (Rutgers Univ. Press, 2003); Flagging Patriotism: Crises of Narcissism and Anti-Americanism (Routledge, 2007); and Race in Translation: Culture Wars Around the Postcolonial Atlantic (NYU press, 2012).
Helga Tawil Souri, Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication
Affiliation: NYU New York
Helga works on issues to do with technology, media, culture, territory and politics in the Middle East, and especially Palestine-Israel. She has researched and written on Arab media; Palestinian cinema, television, videogames and popular culture; on telecommunications and internet infrastructure and development in the Palestinian Territories; as well as on cultural/territorial politics in Palestine-Israel including analyzing checkpoints as cultural and economic spaces, identification cards as material artifacts and territorially-bordering mechanisms. By and large, Helga's scholarship deals with how media/cultural technologies are shaped, used, negotiated, circulated and impeded in the contemporary geopolitical context of the Middle East.
Professor Tawil-Souri taught War and Media in the Middle East in fall 2014.
Edward Ziter, Associate Professor of Theater
Affiliation: NYU New York
Edward Ziter is a theater historian with specialization in nineteenth-century British theater and contemporary Arab theater. He is the author of the Orient on the Victorian Stage (Cambridge UP, 2003), and is currently at work on a history of political theater in Syria. His work on Syria has been supported through a Fulbright grant and a fellowship from the Humanities Institute at NYU.
Professor Ziter occasionally teaches the class Theater in the Arab World at NYUAD.