I am a Mellon Research Fellow at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service and a non-resident fellow 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 Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University 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 political scientist, my research looks at conflict and state-building in the Middle East, with a focus on West Asia. 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. 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. My third major project will rethink race and identity politics in a regional arc encompassing Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Kurdistan.
As someone who is committed to both research and institution-building, my career has spanned universities, think tanks, 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 been assistant professor and research fellow at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies at Georgetown University and lecturer at the University of Exeter. I have also been 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.
My research has been supported by grants and fellowships from the Andrew L. Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University, and the American Druze Foundation, the British Academy, and the Council for British Research in the Levant.
I have worked as a consultant providing politics & security analysis, primarily on Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, for Proximity International, 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.