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Lindsey Stephenson

  • Near Eastern Studies
Position: Graduate Student
Title: 5th-year Ph.D. student
Office: Jones Hall

I grew up in Columbus, Georgia and completed a B.A. and B.I.S degrees at Georgia State University in Political Science and Middle Eastern Studies. After a Fulbright fellowship in Kuwait and two years working in Washington, D.C., I enrolled in the M.A. program in Muslim Cultures at the Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations in London. While maintaining a primary focus on the modern history of the Gulf, I also cultivated an interest in early Islamic history and material culture.


I am currently a fifth-year doctoral candidate working on migration from the south of Iran to Kuwait and Bahrain in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The first part of my dissertation explores how the everyday movement across the Gulf is impacted by first the presence of three major, overlapping empires and later by the growth of states after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. The second part of my dissertation is a local story, focusing on the history of the multiple Iranian migrant communities in Kuwait and Bahrain and makes important interventions in the current narrative by nuancing their varied experiences and contributions to these societies.

Research interests

My primary methodological contribution to the field is through incorporating new kinds of sources into the study of the Gulf and especially in making the British, Iranian and local archives speak to one another.

Thematically, I am particularly interested in drawing Indian Ocean history into the study of the modern Middle East, and I argue that the field of Middle East Studies needs to rethink the organization of space through the lens of everyday networks (social, cultural, trade, intellectual, etc). I am also interested in how the impact of reorienting the Middle East spatially affects periodization and other temporal perceptions.


I have a great interest in teaching and see it at a critical component to academia. I have been a teaching assistant in a survey course of the Middle East from the inception of Islam through the present, and in the fall of 2016 I will be a teaching assistant for a course entitled Muslims and the Quran.

I have also had a number of volunteer teaching experiences. I am involved with the Prison Teaching Initiative and have taught one writing composition class and three elementary Arabic classes. I lead a team of four teachers to develop and teach the Arabic classes, tailoring them to the specific challenges of learning a language in prison. I also taught one shorter, six-week Quranic Arabic class for the Princeton community. 

Peer-reviewed publications

“Women and the Malleability of the Kuwaiti Diwaniyya,” Journal of Arabian Studies. Vol. 2, 1. December 2011.

Other publications and research

Book review in Journal of Arabian Studies, Vol. 4, Issue 2, (December 2014) of Lawrence Potter, ed. Sectarian Politics in the Persian Gulf, pp. 281-283.

“The Kuwaiti Houla and Names as a Site of Social Navigation.” Master’s thesis presented to the Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations. September 2012.

“The Political Underpinnings of Kuwaiti Sectarian Polemics,” Jadaliyya ezine, May 4, 2011,

“Ahistorical Kuwaiti Sectarianism,” Middle East Channel, Foreign Policy Online , April 29, 2011,

“The battle for influence: Women’s suffrage in Kuwait,” in The Middle East in London Magazine, Vol. 7, No. 8 April-May 2011.

Papers and presentations

“Preserving their Place in Kuwaiti History: Iranian Migrants and the History Market.” Upcoming annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, 2016

“Nationalizing Foreigners: The Politics of Property and Nationality in Bahrain and Southern Iran.” Annual Exeter Gulf Studies Conference, August 2016

“Iranians in Between: Territorialization in the 20th-Century Persian Gulf.” Princeton Islamic Studies Colloquium, February 2016

“Rethinking Foreland and Hinterland in the Indian Ocean World.” Aga Khan University, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations Lecture Series, April 2015

“Port Cities, Hinterlands and Networks in the Northern Persian Gulf.” Annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, 2014

“Geography and Belonging: Social Navigation and the Kuwaiti Houla.” Annual meeting of the Middle East Studies Association, 2013

“The Kuwaiti Diwaniyya: From “Shareecha" to “Mshtaricha.” Annual Exeter Gulf Studies Conference, July 2011


Cotsen Junior Fellow, Princeton University 2016/2017

Pahlavi Fellowship 2014

Pahlavi Fellowship 2015

Best Thesis Award, Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilizations, 2012

2012 Fulbright Fellow to Kuwait 2007-2008