Who We Are

AbdelMonemSaidAlyAbdel Monem Said Aly, Senior Fellow
Said Aly is also the Chairman of Al-Masry Al-Youm, a leading Arabic language daily newspaper in Egypt. In 2013-16, he was Chairman of the Board, CEO, and Director of the Regional Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo. Previously, Said Aly was also 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. He co-authored Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East (London: Palgrave, 2013). 

JosephBahoutJoseph Bahout, Non-Resident Fellow
Bahout is also a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Middle East Program. Bahout has served as a permanent consultant for the Policy Planning Unit of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while teaching Middle-Eastern Studies at Sciences-Po Paris and being a senior fellow at Académie Diplomatique Internationale. He previously taught at Université Saint-Joseph in Beirut and was a researcher at the French Beirut-based Centre d’Etudes et de Recherches sur le Moyen-Orient Contemporain. Born in Beirut, Bahout earned a degree in Economics from the American University of Beirut, and a PhD in Political Science at Sciences-Po Paris. He has published two books on Syria and Lebanon in addition to numerous articles and chapters on Middle East politics, and is currently writing a book on Lebanon’s post-war political reconstruction and Lebanese-Syrian relations.

Eva BellinEva 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  (Cornell, 2002) and the co-editor of Building Rule of Law in the Arab World (Lynne Reinner Press, 2016). She has written extensively on 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 (2007), a Princeton University Fellow (2006), and has served as an editor of the journal Comparative Politics since 2005. In 2015, she won the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Mentorship of Graduate Students at Brandeis University. Before coming to Brandeis, Bellin taught at Johns Hopkins/SAIS, Harvard University, Hunter College, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. She earned her BA at Harvard University and her PhD from Princeton University.

Kristina CherniahivskyKristina 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.

RobertLCohenRobert 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.

SamuelDolbeeSamuel Dolbee, Junior Research Fellow
Dolbee holds a PhD in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from NYU. At the Crown Center, he is working on a book project that explores the meanings of borders in the Jazira region (today divided between Iraq, Syria, and Turkey) by following the mobility of insects, nomads, refugees, and disease between 1860 and 1940. The project draws on archival sources primarily in Arabic, English, French, Ottoman, and Turkish and received support from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Social Science Research Council. At NYU, Dolbee taught in the fields of modern Middle East history, environmental history, and the history of disease. He has an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown.

Shai FeldmanShai Feldman, Judith and Sidney Swartz Director and Professor of Politics
Feldman is also a member of the Board of Directors of Harvard University’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and is a Fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London. In 2001-2003, Feldman served as a member of the UN Secretary General’s Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. In 1997-2005, Feldman was Head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. He is the author or co-author of numerous books among which the most recent is Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East, with Abdel Monem Said Aly and Khalil Shikaki (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013) – the first-ever university textbook on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict to have been co-authored by an Israeli, a Palestinian, and an Egyptian presenting a broader Arab perspective. Short C.V.

NaderHabibiNader Habibi, Henry J. Leir Professor of the Economics of the Middle East
Before joining the Center in 2007, Habibi was Managing Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at IHS-Global Insight. He holds a PhD in Economics and a MS in Systems Engineering from Michigan State University. He has also worked as a Research Fellow at the Middle East Council at Yale University. His most recent publications include, "Why are Egyptian Youth Burning their University Diplomas? The Crisis of Overeducation in Egypt," Middle East Brief 102, September 2016; "Why the Youth Are So Eager for Academic Education? Evidence from Iran’s labor market," with G.K. Haddad, Journal of Economic Studies, January 2017; and "Higher Education Policies and the Crisis of Overeducation in Turkey," European Journal of Higher Education, April 2017.

Reza GholamReza Keshavarz Haddad, Visiting Research Scholar
Haddad is also an associate professor of Economics at the Graduate School of Management and Economics in Sharif University of Technology (Tehran). He holds a PhD in Economics from Tehran University. He was a senior researcher at the Institute for Trade Studies and Research (Iran) from 1999-2003. Haddad has published several academic books in Farsi including: Econometrics of Micro-data and Policy Evaluation (Ney Press, 2016), Econometrics of Financial Time Series, with R and Eviews (Ney press, 2016) and Intermediate Microeconomics (Ney press, 2016). His the most recent publications include, "Vertical Skill Mismatch Incidence and Wage Consequences in Low-Skill Jobs: Evidence from Iran’s Labor Market," International Labour Review, 2017; and "Decomposition of Cohort, Age and Time Effects in Iranian Households' Cigarette Consumption," Journal of Economic Studies, 2018.

Nils HägerdalNils Hägerdal, Junior Research Fellow
Hägerdal holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard University. At the Crown Center, he is working on a book manuscript about ethnic cleansing during the Lebanese civil war with a particular focus on strategic decision-making among Christian militias. He has written several papers that study how ethnicity, sectarianism, and nationalism impact political violence and armed conflict in the contemporary Arab world. This research combines quantitative and qualitative techniques and builds on fieldwork conducted as an affiliated researcher at American University of Beirut during 2013-14. Hägerdal was a fellow at the Niehaus Center at Princeton University, and he holds a BA from Oxford and an MA from the University of Chicago.

MarilynRHorowitzMarilyn 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).

HadiHadi Kahalzadeh, Doctoral Student
Kahalzadeh is a PhD student in Public Policy at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management. He studies the role of civil society organizations in solving youth unemployment in the Middle East. He holds an MA in Sustainable International Development from Brandeis, an MA in Energy Economics from the Islamic Azad University, and BA in Economics from Allameh Tabatabai University in Tehran. Prior to joining the PhD program, Kahalzadeh worked on capacity development, monitoring, and evaluation in non-profit organizations. In Iran, he worked as an economist with the Department of Economic and Social Planning in the Social Security Organization of Iran (SSO) for eight years. He also served as a member of the board for several civil society pro-democratic organizations in Iran. These organizations focused on ethnic rights, labor movements, and allyship with women. 

Amir MahdaviSeyedamir Hossein Mahdavi, Researcher
Mahdavi is an AM candidate in History at Brandeis University. He earned a Master’s degree in Middle East Studies from the Harvard University and received a grant for the best student research in the field of negotiation from Harvard Law School. He holds a BS in Management and for over a decade worked for several Iranian dailies as a journalist and chief editor. A recipient of Iran's 2004 national journalism award, he has published many op-eds and stories over the course of his career. For the past three years, his research concentration has included the domestic and foreign policies and politics of Iran. He is currently assisting a project on the political history of the Iranian Revolution of 1979 at the Crown Center.

KananMakiyaKanan Makiya, Senior Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
Born in Baghdad, Makiya left Iraq to study architecture at MIT, 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 (University of California Press, 1989) became a best-seller after Saddam Hussein's 1990 invasion of Kuwait. In 2003, he founded the Iraq Memory Foundation, a NGO based in Baghdad and the US that is dedicated to issues of remembrance, violence, and identity formation. The Iraq 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 as well as many foundations. Makiya recently authored the novel, The Rope (Pantheon, 2016), which quickly became an international bestseller.

MohammedMasbah Mohammed Masbah, Junior Research Fellow
Masbah holds a PhD in Sociology from Mohammad V University in Rabat. His dissertation examined the changing ideology and actions of Salafis in the Moroccan context since the Casablanca bombings in 2003. Mohammed is a political-sociologist whose work centers on Salafism, political Islam, authoritarianism, and youth movements, with a focus on North Africa. Previously, he was a nonresident scholar at the Carnegie Middle East Center, and prior to that, he was a fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (Stiftung Wissenschaft und Politik, SWP) in Berlin, where he worked on the project, "Elite change and new social mobilization in the Arab world." He also previously served as an expert for the Moroccan Minister of Communication.

Pascal MenoretPascal Menoret, Renée and Lester Crown Professor of Modern Middle East Studies
Menoret is the author of The Saudi Enigma: A History (Zed Books, 2005) and Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (Cambridge University Press, 2014). An ethnographer and historian, he is interested in youth, urbanism, and political activism in the Arabian Peninsula and beyond. He earned his PhD from the University of Paris and was a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University and Harvard University. He previously taught at New York University, Abu Dhabi. He is currently working on a book tentatively titled, "Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamism in Saudi Suburbia," an ethnography of Islamist movements in contemporary Saudi Arabia.

golnarGolnar Nikpour, Neubauer Junior Research Fellow
Nikpour holds a PhD in Middle Eastern, South Asian & African Studies from Columbia University. At the Crown Center, she is finishing her book, The Incarcerated Modern: Prisons and Public Life in Iran, which challenges the notion of the prison as a place of social death. Instead, the book argues that modern conceptions of citizenship and political emancipation have emerged in the context of modern surveillance and punishment in Iran beginning in the late 19th century. From 2015-2017, Nikpour was an A.W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where she taught the political and intellectual history of the modern Middle East and North Africa in the Department of History. Nikpour is also co-founder and co-editor of B|ta’arof, a journal for Iranian arts and histories, where she has written extensively on Iranian intellectual and cultural history.

Houman OliaeiHouman Oliaei, Doctoral Student
Oliaei is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at Brandeis University. His research focuses on religious minorities in the Middle East and the study of Zoroastrians’ rituals and religious beliefs. In particular, he is exploring the factors which have influenced the cultural identity and self-understanding of Zoroastrians in Iran, 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 BA in Music and MA in Anthropology from the University of Tehran.

David PatelDavid Siddhartha Patel, Research Fellow
Patel holds a PhD in Political Science from Stanford University and a BA in Political Science and Economics from Duke University. He was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University before joining the Crown Center. Patel’s book titled, "Islam, Information and Social Order: The Strategic Role of Religion in Muslim Societies" is being prepared for publication by Cornell University Press. His most recent publication at the Crown Center is "Repartitioning the Sykes-Picot Middle East? Debunking Three Myths," Middle East Brief 103, November 2016.

KhalilShikakiKhalil Shikaki, Goldman Senior Fellow
Shikaki has directed the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research in Ramallah since 2000 and has conducted more than 100 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 was also a Visiting Fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in 2002.

Naghmeh SohrabiNaghmeh Sohrabi, Associate Director for Research and the Charles (Corky) Goodman Professor of Middle East History
Sohrabi's book Taken for Wonder: Nineteenth Century Travel Accounts from Iran to Europe was published by Oxford University Press in 2012. She is the 2014 recipient of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship and is currently researching a book on the experience of the 1979 revolution in Iran. Sohrabi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center from 2005-2007. She received her PhD in History and Middle East Studies from Harvard University in 2005, and her dissertation received an honorable mention from the Foundation for Iranian Studies.

KarenSpiraKaren Spira, Program Coordinator
Spira is a PhD candidate in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, where she earned an MA in 2011. She is also a Schusterman Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. She holds an MA in Religion from the University of Georgia and a BA in English and Religious Studies from the University of Arizona. She teaches courses on Jewish and Israeli history at Brandeis and as a community educator in a variety of settings throughout the Greater Boston area and New York.

KellyStedemKelly Stedem, Doctoral Student
Stedem is a PhD Candidate in the Politics department at Brandeis University. She is interested in the practices of patronage and clientelism, ethnic politics, and security. Her dissertation explores the provision of security and policing by political parties in Lebanon. She received a BA in International and Religious Studies from the University of South Florida and an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Texas at Austin. From 2011-2014, Stedem worked for a number of NGOs in Lebanon focusing on civil society, transitional justice, and humanitarian aid.