About

I am Assistant Director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. I have previously held faculty, research, and management positions at Georgetown’s University’s Center for Contemporary Arab Studies, the Council for British Research in the Levant, the University of Exeter, and the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies.

Trained as a comparative-historical political scientist, my research looks at state-building, spatial politics, and political economy in the Middle East, with a focus on modern Syria. I have published on state-building, Syria’s economic policy post-WWII, colonial counter-insurgency, Michael Mann and Henri Lefebvre, the policing of Syria’s Bedouin tribes, and the insights that quantum physics can offer for theorizing the modern state.

My first book, Occupying Syria under the French Mandate: Insurgency, Space, and State Formation, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2012. I am currently writing my second book, titled The Nation Belongs to All: the Making of Modern Syria, which will offer in-depth analysis of the development of Syria’s politics, economics, and society from the 1800s to the present. The Nation Belongs to All is contracted for UK publication with Allen Lane.

My academic research has been published in journals such as International Affairs, New Political Economy,  Journal of Historical Sociology, and International Journal of Middle East Studies. I was an affiliated researcher at the Institut Francais du Proche-Orient a Damas (IFPO) and at the Center for Arab and Middle East Studies at the American University of Beirut. I sit on the editorial board of two journals, Contemporary Levant and Critical Military Studies

As an academic who is committed to both research and institution-building, my career has spanned universities, thinktanks, and NGOs in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. As Research Director (Syria) at the Council for British Research in the Levant (2011-13), I piloted a new Arabic language training program for British academics, established a scholarship scheme for displaced Syrian researchers, and worked with local institutions to build capacity for social science research in Jordan. I am especially interested in now undertaking similar projects with Syrian research organizations inside and outside the country.

I was previously Head of the Middle East & North Africa Program at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), a leading London thinktank, and have also been assistant professor and research fellow at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and lecturer at the University of Exeter.

My research has been supported by fellowships from the Andrew L. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and the American Druze Foundation. I was previously Head of the Middle East & North Africa Program at the Royal United Services Institute for Defense and Security Studies (RUSI), a leading London thinktank.

I have worked as a consultant providing politics & security analysis for Jane’s Information Group, BBC Monitoring, and Menas Associates, among others, and have had extensive broadcast experience on television and radio with the BBC World Service, BBC News 24, CNN International, and Sky News. I regularly give talks to universities, diplomats, policymakers, and the general public.