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Previous Postdoctoral Fellows

Matthew Melvin-Koushki (2013–2014)
Melvin-Koushki holds degrees in Islamic Studies from Yale University (PhD, MPhil, MA) and a BA in Middle Eastern Languages and Literatures from the University of Virginia. Before coming to Princeton, he completed a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Oxford. Melvin-Koushki’s 2012 dissertation, “The Quest for a Universal Science: The Occult Philosophy of Ṣā’in al-Dīn Turka Iṣfahānī (1369–1432) and Intellectual Millenarianism in Early Timurid Iran,” won the Middle East Studies Association’s Malcolm H. Kerr award for best dissertation in the Humanities and received honorable mention for the award of best dissertation in Iranian Studies from the Foundation for Iranian Studies. At Princeton, Melvin-Koushki worked on converting his dissertation into three books: Occult Philosophers and Philosopher Kings in Early Modern Iran, an examination of the thought and fraught career of Ibn Turka, the foremost occult philosopher of early 15th-century Iran, as index of larger intellectual and sociopolitical developments that shaped the early modern Persianate world; The Occult Science of Empire in Early Modern Iran: Two Shirazi Lettrists, which extends the scope of the first book to the end of the 16th century by way of two case studies, with a focus on Shiraz as a major center for Persianate occultism from the 13th century onward; and a critical edition and translation of nine unpublished Persian and Arabic treatises by Ibn Turka on the subject of lettrism. He is also editing the volume of proceedings from a workshop he organized at Princeton in February 2014; entitled New Perspectives on Islamicate Occultism (13th–17th Centuries), this volume is forthcoming in 2015 as a special issue of Arabica. Melvin-Koushki is currently an assistant professor of History at the University of South Carolina.
Aurélie Daher (2012–2013)
Aurélie Daher received her Ph.D. and Master’s degrees in Political Science from Sciences Po, Paris, in 2011, and a Master’s degree in Public Management from École Supérieure de Commerce de Paris (ESCP Europe) in 2002. She previously held a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford’s Department of Politics and International Relations (2010–2011). Her work focuses on Hezbollah, the Shiites, and Lebanese politics. During her time at Princeton, she worked on a book about Lebanese politics in the period beginning with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafic Hariri in 2005 and up to the seizure of power by Hezbollah in 2011 and its management of domestic and foreign policies. She also researched more broadly the way Hezbollah has dealt since its creation with the Lebanese state and power.
Elvire Corboz (2011–2013)
Elvire Corboz earned a D.Phil in Oriental Studies at the University of Oxford in 2010, after obtaining a degree (B.A. & M.A.) in Musicology and Arabic from the University of Geneva, Switzerland, and an M.Phil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from Oxford. She was one of the joint winners of the 2011 BRISMES Leigh Douglas Memorial Prize for the best dissertation on a Middle Eastern topic in the Social Sciences or Humanities. The dissertation, “Negotiating loyalty across the Shi‘i world: The transnational authority of the al-Hakim and al-Khu’i families,” documented the transnational political sociology of Shi‘i religious families to examine how cross-border interactions affect the construction and maintenance of clerical authority. The analysis located the relationships of authority between clerical actors and believers in situated states, confirming that transnational religious networks can affect specific localities and, equally, that situated places shape larger forms of solidarity across borders.  In her two years as an NES Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Corboz gave Brown Bag Lunch talks, presented a paper in the Princeton University Middle East Seminar Series, organized a workshop on “Shi‘i Clerics and Politics: Local and Transnational Perspectives,” two NJ Teachers workshops, “Shi‘i Clerics and Politics: Local and Transnational Perspectives,” and “Post-Saddam Iraq: Perceptions and Representations,” and taught NES 327, “Shi‘ism and Politics in the 20th Century,” and NES 350, "Republic of Fear to Divided Land: Iraq, 1958–2008." She prepared several articles and her dissertation for publication. She also began researching her next project on Iran and Muslims in the West.
Andrew Arsan (2010–2012)
Andrew Arsan,a political, cultural, and intellectual historian of the Arabic-speaking Eastern Mediterranean, spent two years at Princeton where in addition to revising his dissertation, “ Lebanese Migrants in French West Africa, 1898–1939,” for publication, he had four articles published and had several others accepted for publication. He is also working on a projected volume on contemporary Lebanon. Arsan still found time to continue research on two interlinked projects: a broad, “global,” history of the Lebanese diaspora in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and a more tightly focused examination of intellectual activity and political culture in six poles of Eastern Mediterranean life—Beirut, Alexandria, Cairo, Paris, New York, and São Paulo—in the decades between 1880 and 1920. In addition to his research and writing, Arsan developed and taught two upper-level undergraduate courses, “Arabs in the Americas: Middle Eastern Migrants in the United States and Latin America” and “Western Imperialism in the Middle East, 1800–2000,” and organized a workshop for high school teachers on “Middle Eastern Migrants in the Americas.” This workshop grew into a larger conference organized with Akram Khater of North Carolina State University and John Karam of DePaul held in Raleigh in April 2012, which gathered together some twenty-four scholars from Europe, the Middle East, North and South America all working on Eastern Mediterranean migration. Following his Princeton postdoc, Arsan was awarded a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Cambridge and elected a fellow of Corpus Christi College, Cambridge.
Iren Ozgur (2010–2012)
Iren Ozgur, who earned her BA in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton in 1998, completed her Ph.D. in 2009 in the Faculty of Oriental Studies, St. Antony’s College, Oxford. During her two years as a postdoc in Near Eastern Studies, she revised for publication her dissertation, which has now been published by Cambridge University Press (2012) as Islamic Schools in Modern Turkey: Faith, Politics, and Education, and had one article, “Social and Political Reform through Religious Education in Turkey: The Ongoing Cause of Hayrettin Karaman,” appear in Middle Eastern Studies 47 (2011). She also had three articles accepted for publication: “Cafcaf: An Islamic Humor Magazine—No Joke!” discusses transformations in Turkey’s Islamic movement through an analysis of the Islamist Cafcaf humor magazine and will appear in Contemporary Islam; “Dabbe and Dabbe 2: A Look at Turkish-Islamic Horror” discusses two horror movies directed by the “Islamist” Hasan Karacadağ to explore the hybridization of “Islamic popular culture,” which now employs styles and genres previously affiliated with secularists in Turkey, and will appear in Performing Islam; and “Busra: The Veiled Protagonist of a Comic Serial,” will appear in Popular Culture in the Middle East and North Africa: A Postcolonial Outlook, edited by Mounira Soliman and Walid El-Hamamsy (Routledge Press. 2012). In addition to her research and writing, Ozgur co-taught an upper-level course with associate professor Michael A. Reynolds in 2011 on “ Secularism in Muslim Central Asia and the Middle East” and in 2012 an undergraduate seminar entitled, “The Middle East through Popular Culture.” She also organized a Teacher Training Workshop for high school teachers on “ Trends in Middle Eastern Popular Culture.”
Thomas Pierret (2010–2011)
Thomas Pierret completed his Ph.D. in political science at the Institut d’Études Politiques, Paris, and the Université Catholique de Louvain, Belgium, writing his dissertation on “The Ulema in Contemporary Syria: Making Tradition Relevant, Finding a Place in an Authoritarian System.” An article, "Limits of 'Authoritarian Upgrading' in Syria: Welfare Privatization, Islamic Charities and the Rise of the Zayd Movement"  (International Journal of Middle East Studies 41 [November 2009]), arising from his dissertation research won the 2010 Syrian Studies Association prize for best article. His research project at Princeton was “Sufi ‘Ulema in the Saudi Hijaz: Regional Revival, Authoritarianism, and Globalization.” In this project, he examined how the Hijazi Sufi ulema managed to survive eight decades of repression resulting from the hostility of the Wahhabi ‘ulema. Pierret taught a course on Syrian politics during the 2010 fall semester and co-organized a workshop on Authoritarianism and Regionalism in the Arab World, held in November 2010. He also organized a high school teachers workshop on the transformations of religious authority in the modern Muslim world. During his post-doc year at Princeton, he completed and submitted for publication a number of articles based upon his dissertation. Pierret accepted the offer of a lectureship at Edinburgh University starting in fall 2011 and spent spring 2011 as a visiting fellow at the Zentrum Moderner Orient (ZMO) in Berlin.
Benjamin Thomas White (2009–2011)
A graduate of the University of Edinburgh with first class honours in Arabic, Benjamin White earned his D.Phil. in modern history at St. Antony’s College, Oxford, in 2008. His dissertation, “The Nation-State Form and the Emergence of ‘Minorities’ in French Mandate Syria, 1919–1939,” won the 2010 Syrian Studies Association biennial award for best dissertation on Syria. It studies the conditions that allowed the concept of “minority” to become prominent in Syria around 1930 and argues that this occurred because of the development of the nation-state form. It was published by Edinburgh University Press in 2011 with the title “The Emergence of Minorities in the Middle East: The Politics of Community in French Mandate Syria. At Princeton, White taught an undergraduate course on empires and nation-states in the early twentieth-century eastern Mediterranean, organized or co-organized three workshops (two of them for New Jersey high school teachers), followed classes in Turkish, saw a number of articles and reviews to various stages on the way to publication, and began work on a new project on statelessness in the interwar Levant. In January 2011 he left Princeton to return to Britain to join the History Department at the University of Birmingham. He is now a lecturer in history at the University of Glasgow.
Senem Aslan (2008–2010)
Senem Aslan earned her Ph.D. in the interdisciplinary program in Near and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Washington. While at Princeton, she worked on her book manuscript, based on her dissertation “Governing Areas of Dissidence: Nation-Building and Ethnic Movements in Turkey and Morocco.” She also completed three articles, organized three workshops on “Minorities in the Middle East,” “State and Nation-Building in the Middle East,” and “States, Migration, and Mobility in the Middle East,” as well as high school teacher workshops on the same topics, and taught two classes, “State and Society in the Middle East,” and “Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict in the Middle East.” Aslan is now an assistant professor of politics at Bates College.
Lindsay Benstead (2008–2009)
Lindsay Benstead earned her Ph.D. in Public Policy and Political Science from the University of Michigan, completing her dissertation, “Does Casework Build Support for a Strong Parliament? Legislative Representation and Public Opinion in Morocco and Algeria,” in 2008. While at Princeton, she significantly reframed her research to focus on political clientelism and began writing a book in which she investigates the relationships between regime type, the structure of member-constituent linkages, and the durability of authoritarian regimes. During the spring semester she taught a course entitled “Government and Politics of North Africa” and organized a workshop on the “Politics of North Africa,” as well as a teacher training workshop on the same topic. Benstead is now an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Portland State University where she teaches courses on Middle East and North African Politics, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, political institutions, democratization and authoritarianism, and research methods.
Henri Lauzière (2008–2009)
Henri Lauzière completed his doctoral studies in modern Middle Eastern and North African History at Georgetown University in 2008. During his year at Princeton, he prepared a book proposal based upon his dissertation, “ The evolution of the Salafiyya in the twentieth century through the life and thought of Taqi al-Din al-Hilali,” and wrote an article on the significance of the Salafiyya Press and Bookstore in Cairo. He taught one course, “Introduction to Islamic Purism,” and designed a second on the Arabian Peninsula in the twentieth century. He organized a panel on the “ Civil War in the Arab World,” as well as a high school teacher training workshop on the same topic. Lauzière is now an assistant professor in the Department of History at Northwestern University .
Cemil Aydın (2007–2008)
Aydın completed his dissertation in History and Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard in 2002. The resulting book appeared in 2007 under the title The Politics of Anti-Westernism in Asia: Visions of World Order in Pan-Islamic and Pan-Asian Thought (Columbia University Press). While at Princeton, he worked on his new book project, The Idea of the Muslim World: A Modern History , to be published by Harvard University Press, taught an undergraduate course, “ History of the post-WWII Middle East: Decolonization, Cold War and Crisis of Modernization,” related to his research, and was profiled in December 2007 by the History News Network in its series “Top Young Historians” ( Aydın is now the IIIT Professor of Islamic History in the Department of History and Art History at George Mason University and the director of George Mason’s Center for Islamic Studies.
Max Weiss (2007–2008)
Max Weiss earned his Ph.D. in modern Middle Eastern history at Stanford. His dissertation, "Institutionalizing Sectarianism: Law, Religious Culture, and the Remaking of Shi‘i Lebanon, 1920–1947," won MESA’s 2007 Malcolm H. Kerr Dissertation Award in the Social Sciences. At Princeton his main project was revising his dissertation for publication as a book with the title In the Shadow of Sectarianism: Law, Shi‘ism and the Making of Modern Lebanon (Harvard University Press, 2010) . He also completed three articles on Lebanese topics, published a prize-winning translation of an Arabic novel (B as in Beirut by Iman Humaydan Younes) , organized a workshop on “Rethinking Sectarianism,” and taught an undergraduate course on minorities in the Middle East. During the 2008–2010 academic years he was a Junior Fellow at the Harvard Society of Fellows, and since September 2010 he has held a joint appointment as an assistant professor in the Departments of History and Near Eastern Studies at Princeton.