About

I am the 2020-21 ADF Research Fellow at the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies in Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and a non-residential fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University.

As a comparative-historical political scientist, my research looks at state-building, spatial politics, and political economy in the Middle East, with a specific focus on modern Syria – a country in which I lived for several years, most recently during the first year of the 2011 uprising. I have published work 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 all the way through to 2018. The Nation Belongs to All is contracted for UK publication with Allen Lane.

My academic research has been published in journals such as 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

My career experience includes universities, thinktanks, and NGOs in the Middle East, Europe, and North America. I have taught at Georgetown University, University of Exeter, School of Oriental & African Studies, London School of Economics, and Georgetown University Qatar. My research has been supported by fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars, and the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. 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.

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 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.