Assistant Professor of Social Research and Public Policy
Affiliation: NYU Abu Dhabi
Education: PhD UCLA; BA University of Colorado, Boulder
Research Areas: Political violence; war; human rights; foreign policy; Iraq; elites; political sociology
Wisam Alshaibi is a political, historical, and cultural sociologist. His research focuses on political violence, war, foreign policy, social theory, and the self. Alshaibi has an area specialty in the modern middle east, especially modern Iraq. He explores how "big" events such as war, shifts in geopolitical strategy, and state behavior at the international level can be and often are driven by small groups of actors seeking power and recognition. In his work, Alshaibi aims to gain direct access to the powerful and influential in order to capture how politics functions at the level of face-to-face interaction.
Alshaibi is currently writing a book about the involvement of the Iraqi opposition to Saddam Hussein in mobilizing US support for regime change in Iraq between 1990-2003. His book, The Anatomy of Regime Change, emphasizes the extreme degree to which US foreign policy on Iraq was shaped and influenced by a small group of Iraqi exiles living in the US. Though there has been much scholarly emphasis on America intervening in Iraq, his research brings into focus Iraqis intervening in American politics. He draws on rare archival records and interviews with Iraqi activists and the principal US architects of the wars in Iraq, including most of the George W. Bush war cabinet. More broadly, the book explains how diaspora, transnational, or otherwise transborder activists mobilize to shape the foreign policies of host states against their home regimes.
Alshaibi's future research agenda explores questions about how political officials make sense of their participation in killing civilians and how distributed decision-making transforms moral questions into technical questions.
Alshaibi earned his PhD in sociology at UCLA. His research has been supported by the US Department of Education, the American Academic Research Institute in Iraq, the Hoover Institution, the Mellon Foundation, and the Forum Transregionale Studien among other organizations. He was awarded the Peter Kollock Teaching Prize in the Department of Sociology, and the UCLA Distinguished Teacher Award, UCLA's highest honor for teaching across the entire university. He primarily teaches sociological and social theory and has developed his own course about the problems of selfhood in modernity.