Staff by Name
Who We Are
Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee, Junior Research Fellow
Al-Qarawee is a political scientist whose research focuses on state-society relations, political transitions, and identity politics in Iraq and the Middle East. He has written extensively for various English and Arabic publications and journals. He also worked as a political commentator and consultant, contributing to several research centers and outlets, including Al-Monitor, Carnegie, the Atlantic Council, and the Al-Jazeera Center for Studies. He has a Ph.D. in Political Science from Sant'Anna School for Advanced Studies in Italy, an M.A. in Political Communication from Leeds University (UK) and an M.A. in Political Science from Baghdad University (Iraq). He worked as a lecturer and teaching assistant at Baghdad University, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University). As a fellow at the Crown Center, Al-Qarawee will be writing a book titled “Hawza and Shi'a Politics in post-Saddam Iraq,” and working on a project aiming to track cultural heritage and human migrations in areas engulfed by violence in Iraq.
Eva Bellin, Myra and Robert Kraft Professor of Arab Politics
Bellin is the author of Stalled Democracy: Capital Labor and the Paradox of State-Sponsored Development and has written extensively on the authoritarian persistence in the Middle East, the political economy of development, the evolution of civil society, and the politics of cultural change. She has been a Carnegie Scholar and a Princeton University Fellow and has served as an editor of the journal Comparative Politics since 2005. She previously taught at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, Harvard University, Hunter College and The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.
Kristina Cherniahivsky, Associate Director
Cherniahivsky earned an MBA from Simmons School of Management in 2001. Previously she managed the International Security Program at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University and worked in Eastern Europe on issues around democracy and civil society in post-communist states.
Robert L. Cohen, Editor
Cohen has edited reference books, scholarly and general-interest non-fiction, and public policy and think tank publications on international relations, urban affairs, and other specialties for over a quarter-century. He has also written and edited definitions for the Random House Unabridged and other dictionaries; contributed a monograph on anti-poverty policy history to Inventing Community Renewal: The Trials and Errors That Shaped the Modern Community Development Corporation; written a documentary for NPR and feature stories and reviews for magazines and newspapers; and produced a compilation CD and over 100 radio programs.
Karim Elkady, Junior Research Fellow
Elkady received his Ph.D. in politics from Brandeis University in 2015. His research focuses on American military interventions with the purpose of state-building other countries. During his fellowship, he will turn his dissertation titled “America’s Experience with State-Building: Lessons from Past Cases” into a book manuscript. Before joining Brandeis University, Karim worked for five years as a researcher for Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo, Egypt. He received his B.A. and M.A. from the American University in Cairo.
Shai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director
Feldman is the Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies and Professor of Politics at Brandeis University. He is also a Senior Fellow and a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. In 2001-2003, Feldman served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. Short C.V.
Nader Habibi, Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East
Before joining the Crown Center in 2007, Habibi was Managing Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at IHS-Global Insight. He is a regional economist with a concentration on the Middle East and North Africa. His recent research projects have focused on the economic policies of Islamists in Egypt and Tunisia, as well as the latest economic trends in the Islamic Republic of Iran. He holds a Ph.D. in economics and a Masters in systems engineering from Michigan State University. He has also worked as a research fellow at the Middle East Council at Yale University.
Marilyn R. Horowitz, Senior Department Associate
Horowitz is a native of New York City and now lives in Waltham, MA. She is an avid photographer, designs jewelry, and is a member of the Dog Writers Association of America (her 2007 Sunnybank Calendar won the Calendar Category of the 2006 DWAA Writing Contest).
Jeffrey G. Karam, Doctoral Student
Karam is currently a Ph.D. Candidate in Politics and Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, where he is writing his dissertation on U.S. intelligence failures and successes in the Middle East during the 1950s. Previously, he earned his M.A. with high distinction in Political Science from the American University of Beirut and a B.A. with high distinction in International Affairs and Diplomacy from Notre Dame University, Lebanon. Fluent in Arabic and French, he has extensive research experience in the region, including Lebanon and Jordan. He is the recipient of several awards, including a Mellon Dissertation Research Grant, the Hussein Oueini Memorial Award, and the Said Akl Award. LinkedIn Profile
Hikmet Kocamaner, Junior Research Fellow
Kocamaner holds a dual Ph.D. degree in Anthropology and Middle Eastern and North African Studies from the University of Arizona. His dissertation is entitled "The Politics of the Family: Religious Affairs, Civil Society, and Islamic Media in Turkey." As a Junior Fellow at the Crown Center, Kocamaner will write articles based on his dissertation research and submit them to peer-reviewed academic journals. He will also begin preparing a book manuscript based on his dissertation. In 2005-2006, Kocamaner was a Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Fellow at the University of Arizona, where he taught Turkish. He received his B.A. in English Language and Literature from Hacettepe University in Ankara, and an M.A. in English Literature from Middle East Technical University in Ankara.
Amir Hossein Mahdavi, Reseacher
Mahdavi is also an AM candidate in Middle Eastern politics at Harvard University. He earned a master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the Heller School for Social Policy & Management at Brandeis University and received a grant for the best student research in the field of negotiation from Harvard Law School. For the past three years, his research concentration has included the domestic and foreign policies and politics of Iran. He is currently assisting on the political history of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 at the Crown Center. Amir also has a bachelor of science in Management. He worked for several Iranian dailies as a journalist and chief editor for a decade. A recipient of Iran's 2004 national journalism award, he has published many op-eds and stories over the course of his career.
Kanan Makiya, Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Makiya is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Born in Baghdad, he left Iraq to study architecture at M.I.T, later joining Makiya Associates to design and build projects in the Middle East. In 1981, he left the practice of architecture and began to write a book about Iraq. Kanan has written several books and is widely published. Republic of Fear: The Politics of Modern Iraq (1989), became a best-seller after Saddam Husain's invasion of Kuwait. In 2003 he founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, a NGO based in Baghdad and the US dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence and identity formation. The Memory Foundation has collected and digitized nearly 10 million pages of Ba'th era documents and has been supported by both the Iraqi and US Governments and well as many foundations.
Pascal Menoret, Renée and Lester Crown Chair in Modern Middle East Studies
Menoret is the author of The Saudi Enigma: A History and of Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt. An ethnographer and historian, he is interested in youth, urbanism, and political activism in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Paris 1 and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and Harvard University. He previously taught at New York University Abu Dhabi.
Richard A. Nielsen, Neubauer Junior Research Fellow
Rich Nielsen is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He holds a Ph.D. in Government (2013) and an A.M. in Statistics (2010) from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Political Science (2007) from Brigham Young University. He studies and teaches on Islam, political violence, human rights, economic development, and research design. While at the Crown Center, he will be completing a book about why some Muslim clerics adopt the ideology of militant Jihad while most do not.
Houman Oliaei, Doctoral Student
Oliaei is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology at Brandeis University. His research will focus on religious minorities in the Middle East and the study of Zoroastrian rituals and religious beliefs. He will examine the factors which have influenced the cultural identity and self-understanding of Zoroastrians in Iran and try to outline the methods by which cultural symbols or social organization provide defense mechanisms for this religious minority and the way that they cope with their social challenges. Oliaei received his B.A. in Music and M.A. in Anthropology from the University of Tehran.
David Siddhartha Patel, Junior Research Fellow
Patel was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. He received his Ph.D. in Political Science from Stanford University and his B.A. in Political Science and Economics from Duke University. At the Crown Center, Patel will complete his book on “Islam, Information and Social Order: The Strategic Role of Religion in Muslim Societies.”
Jean-Louis Romanet Perroux, Junior Research Fellow
Perroux is a doctoral candidate at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. At the Crown Center, he will work on the role of civil society and local governance in democratic transition, with an emphasis on Libya. He has a B.A. in Aeronautical Engineering from the Italian Air Force Academy, an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Trieste and an M.A. in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy. Before undertaking his doctoral studies, Perroux was a pilot and instructor in the Italian Air Force. From 2011-2013 he worked and conducted research in Libya focusing on civil society, governance and security.
Benjamin Rostoker, Program Coordinator
Rostoker received his B.A. and M.A. in Politics from Brandeis University in 2005. He has worked with conflict resolution programs and organizations including: the Israeli Palestinian Negotiating Partners; Middle East Education through Technology; and Mercy Corps Conflict Management Group. In 2007, Rostoker was a teaching and research assistant at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya in Israel.
Suzanne Rothman, Department Coordinator
Rothman joined the Crown Center after spending a year in Baku, Azerbaijan where she was a Fulbright Scholar. In 2013, she earned a B.A. in Politics and Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies from Brandeis University. Suzanne previously worked with the Department of State in Bahrain, the Department of Transportation, and B’Tselem, an Israeli human rights NGO.
Abdel Monem Said Aly, Senior Fellow
Said Aly is Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Director of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. He is also the Chairman of Al-Masry Al-Youm, a leading Arabic language daily newspaper in Egypt and a Senior Fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies. Previously, Said Aly was the President of the Al-Ahram Center for Political & Strategic Studies in Cairo and the Chairman of the Board and CEO of the Al-Ahram Newspaper and Publishing House. He was a distinguished visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2004 and a research fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in 2003.
Khalil Shikaki, Goldman Senior Fellow
Shikaki has directed the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah since 2000, and has conducted more than one hundred polls among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip since 1993. A world-renowned expert on Palestinian public opinion and a widely published author, he has taught at several institutions, including Birzeit University, An-Najah National University, the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, and the University of South Florida. He also was a visiting fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2002.
Naghmeh Sohrabi, Associate Director for Research
Sohrabi is Associate Director for Research at the Crown Center and the Charles “Corky” Goodman Professor of Middle East History at Brandeis. Her recent book Taken for Wonder: Nineteenth Century Travel Accounts from Iran to Europe was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. Sohrabi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center from 2005-2007. She received her Ph.D. in history and Middle East studies from Harvard University in 2005 and her dissertation received an honorable mention from the Foundation for Iranian Studies.
Kelly Stedem, Doctoral Student
Stedem began her doctoral studies in the Politics Department of Brandeis University in Fall 2014. She received a B.A. in International and Religious Studies from the University of South Florida and an M.A. in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas, Austin. From 2011-2014, Stedem worked for a number of NGOs in Lebanon focusing on civil society, transitional justice, and humanitarian aid.