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Center for Arab and Middle Eastern Studies (CAMES)

CAMES Steering Committee

Samer Frangie (PSPA) (Chair)
Samer Frangie is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Studies and Public Administration at the American University of Beirut, where he teaches courses on Arab politics, Arab political thought and social and political theory. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge in 2009. His current research focuses on the transformation of the practices of political critique in and of the Arab world and the changing role of intellectuals in the second half of the twentieth century. More specifically, it investigates the end of the radical moment of the fifties and sixties and its implications in terms of the altered political subjectivities of intellectuals, the transformation in the political use of theory, and the question of the historiography of the Arab world.

 Nadya Sbaiti (CAMES/SOAM) 
Nadya Sbaiti joined AUB as Assistant Professor at CAMES/SOAM in January 2015. She holds degrees from Tufts University and Georgetown University and has taught at Mount Holyoke College and Smith College. She specializes in the social and cultural histories of the modern Middle East. Her current book manuscript examines the central role of education to the formation of multiple national narratives and the production of history in Lebanon under French mandate. Her publications include "'A Massacre without Precedent': Pedagogical Constituencies and Communities of Knowledge in Mandate Lebanon," (forthcoming); “‘If the Devil Spoke French’: Strategies of Language and Learning in French Mandate Beirut,” about the cultural and political significance of language of instruction in French mandate Beirut, and has written articles that guide researchers through Lebanon’s postwar archival terrain. Additional research interests include spatial manifestations of colonial and national projects; colonial methods of social control; the production of history as both discursive and material practice; tourism and heritage; and contemporary popular culture (music, film, game shows, and reality television). In addition, she has served as co-editor of the peer-reviewed Arab Studies Journal and helped produce the acclaimed documentary film, "About Baghdad" (2004).

Mario Kozah - Lecturer, Program Coordinator for Islamic Studies
Mario Kozah received his B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge in Oriental Studies. He moved to Lebanon in 2003 and began teaching Arabic, Semitic Studies and Syriac language and literature at the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages and Islamic Studies at CAMES. He is twice recipient of a Qatar National Research Fund grant and is the lead editor of the trilogy: The Syriac Writers of Qatar in the Seventh Century; An Anthology of Syriac Writers from Qatar in the Seventh Century; and Dadisho Qatraya’s Compendious Commentary on the Paradise of the Egyptian Fathers in Garshuni (Gorgias Press, 2014, 2015; and forthcoming in 2016). He has also edited a volume on the Lebanese poet Jawdat Haydar (Jawdat Haydar’s Poetic Legacy: Issues of Modernity, Belonging, Language and Transcendence, CSP, 2016), and is the author of a monograph on the Muslim polymath Abū Rayḥān al-Bīrūnī: The Birth of Indology as an Islamic Science. Al-Bīrūnī’s Treatise on Yoga Psychology (Leiden: Brill, 2015).

Sylvain Perdigon (SOAM)
Sylvain Perdigon joined the Department of Sociology, Anthropology and Media Studies (SOAM) in January 2013 as Assistant Professor of Anthropology. His research concerns the making and transformations of moral and spiritual obligation in the contemporary Middle East. His current project he explores how the contradictory historical processes set in motion by the politics of empire, nationhood and sovereignty in the Eastern Mediterranean are critically refracted through enduring modes of obligation to various human (relatives) and nonhuman (texts, dream-images, and angels) entities in a Palestinian refugee community in Tyre, South Lebanon. His research, teaching and mentoring interests include, but are not limited to: ethics; religion, especially Islam; kinship; refugee worlds and social abandonment; sovereignty and the law; violence and social suffering; gender, sexuality and embodiment; language and semiotics; the everyday; human-nonhuman relations. 

Alexis Wick (History/Archeology)
Alexis Wick is Assistant Professor in the Department of History and Archaeology. He received his PhD from Columbia University in 2010. He is the author of History at Sea (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2015) and essays published in Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Journal of Ottoman Studies, Feminist Review, and African Identities, among other places. His research pursues a global and plural approach to the genealogy of concepts, with a special focus on the Ottoman and Arab past.

Mahmoud al-Batal (Arabic)

Mahmoud al-Batal joined the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages in fall 2017 as a Professor. He was previously a professor of Arabic at the University of Texas, Austin. He has directed a number of Arabic programs in the US including the Arabic Flagship program at the University of Texas; the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) with its programs in Cairo, Damascus, and Amman; the School of Arabic at Middlebury College; and the Emory University Arabic program. Professor Al-Batal holds a B.A. in Arabic Language and Literature from the Lebanese University in Beirut, and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Arabic Linguistics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He is coauthor of al-Kitaab Arabic textbook series and has conducted numerous teacher training workshops in the US and the Arab world. Since the summer of 2017, he has been director of the CAMES summer Arabic program.

Zeina G. Halabi (Arabic)

Zeina G. Halabi specializes in modern Arabic literature with particular interest in questions of loss, mourning, and dissidence in contemporary literature and visual culture. She was a 2012-2013 EUME fellow at the Forum for Transregional Studies in Berlin, where she began working on her first book titled The Unmaking of the Arab Intellectual: Prophecy, Exile, and the Nation that examines the depiction of Arab intellectuals in post-1990s fiction and film. She has authored articles on the shifting notion of political commitment in the writings of canonical and emerging Arab writers. She is currently working on her second book project provisionally entitled Excavating the Present: History, Power, and the Arab Archive, which explores archival practices in contemporary literature. She received her B.A. from the American University of Beirut (2001), MA from the London School of Economics (2003), and PhD from the University of Texas at Austin (2011). 

Rana H Issa (English)

In studies of the Nahda, Rana Issa has been most interested in the translation of foundational texts as a way to interrogate three aspects of the literary landscape of Arab modernity: 1) the linguistic impact of translation on the styles and genres of written Arabic 2) the dependence of conceptual transfers on key (foundational) texts and 3) the emergence of translation as a technology of choice for the elaboration of a discourse on globalization. Her doctoral work on the Bible explores how translation emerged as a tool of synchronization in the nineteenth century. This interest has triggered specific interests in temporal concepts of origin, tradition, newness, progress, belatedness and acceleration. Some of her recent publications include “The Arabic Language and Syro-Lebanese National Identity: Searching in Buṭrus al-Bustānī’s Muḥīṭ al-Muḥīṭ.”  “Rakākah and the Petit Quarrel of 1871: Christian Authors and the Competition over Arabic.” “The Fallibility of Tradition in al-Shidyāq: The Case of Islam.” And “Missionary Philology and the Invention of Bibleland.” She has also published translations of the Syrian author Yassin Hajj Saleh. She is an Assistant Professor in Translation Studies at the Department of English and is affiliated with the Department of Arabic and Near Eastern Languages, and is a member of CELERT since Spring 2017.

Aliya Saidi (CAMES), non-voting member
Aliya Saidi received her Ph.D. from King's College, University of Cambridge, in Oriental Studies in 2001 and joined CAMES soon afterwards. She has a background in Modern Middle Eastern Studies and specialized in the role of women in Medieval Islam. As the Assistant Director at CAMES, she coordinates student affairs and the center's activities, lectures, conferences, and publications, in addition to being the academic advisor for CAMES students and running the CAMES summer Arabic program.

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