MemberChristoph Lange

I studied from 2004–2011 Social Anthropology and Middle East Studies at the University of Leipzig. With my first travels to Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, I set my research focus on the Levant region within the Arab Middle East. From 2008–2012 I worked for the German state-funded Collaborative Research Center CRC 586 „Difference and Integration“ at the universities of Leipzig and Halle/Lutherstadt Wittenberg where I conducted my first ethnographic research about Bedouin representations in Syrian television dramas and Arab media discourses about authenticity. Since 2014 I am working as a doctoral researcher at the Research Lab “Transformations of Life” at the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne. My actual PhD-research project is about the breeding, standardization and circulation of Arabian purebred horses with an ethnographic focus on Egypt and Arab actors within the global breeding industry.

MemberStephen Sheehi

Interested in 19th and 20th century intellectual, literary, and visual culture of the Middle East; the history of photography; issues of Islamophobia and racism; “cultural theory,” in particular structuralism, post-structuralism, psychoanalysis, and Marxism.Member of Executive Committee, Arabic Division
Member of Executive Committee, West Asia Languages, Literatures, and Cultures Discussion Group

MemberPauline Homsi Vinson

Pauline Homsi Vinson, PhD, teaches English literature and composition at Diablo Valley College. Previously, she has taught at various universities in the Middle East, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Her research interests include Arab and Arab American Literature, Arab women’s movements, gender, sexuality, mobility, diaspora, and hybridity studies as well as English Renaissance drama and college writing. Co-founder of the Arab American Studies Association (AASA), she has also published articles on Arab and Arab-American writers in edited volumes and in such journals as NWSAJ. Her translations of short fiction and prose essays from Arabic to English have appeared in Al Jadid. Currently, she is completing a manuscript project titled “Re-orienting Arab-American Writing: Storytelling, Cultural Mobility, and Subversive Appropriations of the One Thousand and One Nights.”

MemberThomas Thompson

I completed a Ph.D. in Arabic Literature at the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at UCLA. My dissertation, Speaking Laterally: The Transnational Poetics of Iraqi and Iranian Modernist Poetry, intervenes in scholarly conversations about modernist Arabic and Persian poetry by focusing on parallel developments in form, imagery, and thematic pursuits in both traditions. Through a comparative analysis of these minor modernisms, I demonstrate how deeply self-referential and intertextual connections to the shared poetic past of the Middle East led to parallel changes in modernist poetry in Iraq and Iran. Looking to lateral East-East exchanges instead of vertical West-East ones, I show that the advent of modernist poetry in Iran and Iraq cannot be fully understood without considering their shared transnational development. While my scholarship addresses the global spread of literary modernism, I trouble the academy’s current understanding of world literature by looking to the interactions that went on among minor modernist traditions and reading these traditions on their own terms. I am currently the Artemis A.W. and Martha Joukowsky Postdoctoral Fellow in Gender Studies at Brown University’s Pembroke Center, where I am working on a related project: “An Iraqi Poet and the Peace Partisans: Transnational Pacifism and the Poetry of Badr Shākir Al-Sayyāb.” At Brown, I am also teaching a course called “Framing Gender in Middle Eastern Cinema” during the fall 2017 semester.

MemberVeli N. Yashin

Veli N. Yashin is an Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. He holds a PhD in Arabic and Comparative Literature from Columbia University, and he is the winner of the 2013 Horst Frenz Prize of the American Comparative Literature Association. Yashin’s work focuses on modern Arabic and Turkish literatures and more broadly engages the theoretical implications of the complex entanglement between cultural and political representation. His current book project, tentatively titled Disorienting Figures: The Rhetoric of Sovereignty between the Arab and the Turk, argues for the disorienting force of new techniques of writing and reading in the emergence of literary modernity in Arabic and Turkish and the transformations of Ottoman sovereignty in its long-nineteenth century. Bringing together examples of fiction, poetry, drama, travelogue, literary history and criticism, political edicts and commentary published in Arabic and Turkish, Disorienting Figures analyzes emergent conceptualizations of literary and authorial authority in tandem with critical reconsiderations of Ottoman sovereignty. Through its comparative historical and theoretical frame, this project uncovers an hitherto unstudied archive around questions of authority and representation to argue for the entanglement of the rhetorical figuration of the sovereign with the political reconfiguration of the author. In doing so, Disorienting Figures not only shows the fundamental role of literature in the making of modern politics in the Ottoman Empire, but also reveals obscured currents of cultural and political exchange between Arabic and Turkish in light of a shared Ottoman past—a past whose unsettled legacies still inform issues of cultural and political representation in the Middle East today. Yashin’s research and teaching interests include the post-Ottoman world; the relationship between area studies and literary scholarship; conceptions of authority and sovereignty; legacies of German romanticism; histories and future(s) of philology; and Mediterranean studies.

MemberWilliam Cotter

I am a doctoral candidate in the joint PhD program in Anthropology & Linguistics. Prior to joining the Department of Linguistics and School of Anthropology, I completed a Master’s of Arts in Sociolinguistics of the Arab World at the University of Essex. My Master’s research examined Arabic dialect contact in the Gaza Strip between indigenous Gaza Palestinians and Palestinian refugees originally from the city of Jaffa. More recently, in the summer of 2015 I conducted a three month pilot fieldwork project examining dialect contact in a Palestinian refugee camp in northern Jordan.   My primary body of research draws on tools from both variationist sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology to examine the intersections of language, violence, belonging, and citizenship in the Middle East. To date this work has taken two different, but connected paths. One strand has focused on language change within varieties of Palestinian Arabic, situating change within the broader context of the Israel-Palestine conflict and the social, cultural, and political history of the Palestinian community. The second strand has explored how state apparatuses utilize language, specifically Arabic, in conflict areas. Within this body of work I am interested in how state militaries deploy Arabic in leaflets, phone calls, and SMS message as one of component of the broader project of conducting military conflict. Beyond the role that these forms of language play within military contexts, on a broader level I ask what role the use of Arabic plays in creating social and political imaginaries of the state and reinforcing ‘democratic’ discourses within the context of war. In my dissertation research I focus on the use of verbal art, particularly oral poetic forms, and other performantive genres among communities of Palestinian refugees in the Jordanian capital of Amman. My goal in this project is to foreground the ways in which these performative genres create, reinforce, and shape discourses of citizenship, memory, and belonging within the Palestinian community.