Staff by Name
Who We Are
Carla Beth Abdo-Katsipis, Visiting Research Scholar
Abdo-Katsipis received her PhD from the department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland. Her research interests are gender politics, Middle Eastern studies, environmental politics, and conflict. As a quantitative methodologist, she uses survey data to conduct research. In her dissertation, "The Demobilized Body: Transgressions of Personal Space and Political Participation," she linked threats to personal security to the propensity to vote among women.
Harith Hasan Al-Qarawee, Junior Research Fellow
Al-Qarawee 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 was a lecturer and teaching assistant at Baghdad University, and was a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute (Harvard University). His 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, and is currently 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.
Abdel 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).
Joseph 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 Ph.D. 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 Bellin, Myra and Robert Kraft Professor of Arab Politics
She is a Member of the Board of the American University in Cairo (AUC). Bellin authored Stalled Democracy: Capital Labor and the Paradox of State-Sponsored Development (Cornell University Press, 2011) 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. Recently, she co-edited with Heidi Lane a volume titled, Building Rule of Law in the Arab World: Tunisia, Egypt, and Beyond (Lynne Rienner, 2016). She has been a Carnegie Scholar and a Princeton University Fellow and 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, Visiting Research Scholar
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 Center in 2007, Habibi was Managing Director of the Middle East and North Africa Division at IHS-Global Insight. 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. Habibi’s 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. His most recent publications include, “Iran’s Overeducation Crisis: Causes and Ramifications,” Middle East Brief 89, February 2015 and “The Ahmadinejad Presidency and the Future of Iran’s Economy,” The Georgetown Journal of International Affairs, January 2016.
Serra Hakyemez, Neubauer Junior Research Fellow
Hakyemez holds a Ph.D. in Anthropology from The Johns Hopkins University. Based on her ethnographic fieldwork in anti-terrorism courts in Diyarbakır, her dissertation, “Lives and Times of Militancy: Terrorism Trials, State Violence, and Kurdish Political Prisoners in post-1980 Turkey,” examines the emergence of the political from within the space of law where Kurds are incriminated with terrorism charges. Hakyemez currently works on a book project, “Ordinary Lives in Extraordinary Times,” which puts into conversation the literature on ordinary ethics, political community, and critical legal theory to examine the imbrications of law and violence in Turkey’s “War on Terror.”
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, Visiting Research Scholar
Karam is a Lecturer in International Relations and Middle East Politics at the Pardee School of Global Studies, Boston University. He holds a Ph.D. in Political Science from Brandeis University, a M.A. in Political Studies from the American University of Beirut, and a double B.A. in International Affairs, Diplomacy, and Public Administration from the Notre Dame University, Louaize. He studies and teaches on International Relations, Middle Eastern Politics, U.S. Foreign Policy and National Security, and Qualitative Methods. His research spans international relations and comparative politics with an emphasis on American national security and foreign policy in the Middle East. This year at the Crown Center, Karam will complete a book manuscript on the nexus between American intelligence and policy in the Middle East during the Cold War. LinkedIn Profile
Seyedamir Hossein Mahdavi, Researcher
Mahdavi is 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. 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.
Kanan Makiya, Senior Fellow and Professor Emeritus of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies
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 (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 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.
Mohammed Masbah, Marilyn and Terry Diamond Junior Research Fellow
Masbah holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Mohammad V University in Rabat. His dissertation examined the changing ideology and actions of Salafis in the Moroccan context since Casablanca bombings in 2003. Masbah 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 Menoret, Renée and Lester Crown Professor of 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. Menoret is currently working on an ethnography of Islamist movements in contemporary Saudi Arabia, which is under contract with Stanford University Press and tentatively titled, "Graveyard of the Clerics: Islamism in Saudi Suburbia."
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, Senior Research Fellow
Patel’s research focuses on social order, religious authority, and identity in the contemporary Middle East. He conducted independent field research in post-Saddam Iraq on the role of mosques and clerical networks in generating order after state collapse. He has also conducted comparative research on the transnational spread of protests during the so-called Arab Spring and on changes in the support base of Islamist movements. Prior to joining the Center, Patel was an Assistant Professor in the Department of Government at Cornell University. He received his B.A. from Duke University in economics and political science and his Ph.D. from Stanford University in political science. He studied Arabic in Lebanon, Yemen, Morocco, and Jordan. 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.
Jean-Louis Romanet Perroux, Junior Research Fellow
Romanet Perroux holds a PhD in International Relations from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. At the Crown Center, he works on a book manuscript based on his dissertation, titled "Voluntary Associations and Political Culture in post-Gadhafi Libya." In general, he focuses on political culture, civil society, local governance, and security in Libya and the broader Middle East and North Africa regions. 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.
Karen Spira, Program Coordinator
Spira is a Ph.D. candidate in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, where she earned an M.A. in 2011. She is also a Schusterman Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. She holds an M.A. in Religion from the University of Georgia and a B.A. in English and Religious Studies from the University of Arizona. She teaches courses on Jewish and Israeli history at Brandeis University and as a community educator in a variety of settings throughout the Greater Boston area and New York.
Ahmad Shokr, Junior Research Fellow
Shokr holds a dual Ph.D. in History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from New York University. His dissertation, “Beyond the Fields,” is a study of the relationship between state power and economic management in Egypt during the era of decolonization. At the Crown Center, Shokr will turn his dissertation into a book. His book project will fit within an emerging literature on transnational histories of commodities. Using the case of cotton in Egypt—and the institutions, practices, and ideas that were central to its production and export—the book will trace a shifting and uneven geography of management and regulation of one of the world’s most important resources.
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 was also 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. She is the 2014 recipient of a Mellon New Directions Fellowship, and she 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 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.