Who We Are

Hayal AkarsuHayal Akarsu, Junior Research Fellow
Akarsu holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Arizona. Her dissertation, "Reforming the Police: Violence, Security, and the Social in Turkey," analyzes the introduction of new conceptions and practices of security and policing in Turkey as the proliferation of police-related crises once again brings police reform to the global spotlight. Akarsu is currently working on a book project tentatively titled Policing Democracy: Techno-Politics of Security and Citizenship in Turkey. The book will show how the reform of policing often transforms the boundaries and nature of policing practice, which has become in Turkey, as elsewhere, a major site of ethical and political negotiations in the increasingly securitized global political landscape.

Maryam AlemzadehMaryam Alemzadeh, Junior Research Fellow
Alemzadeh holds a PhD in Sociology from the University of Chicago. Her dissertation, "Institutionalization of a Revolutionary Army: The Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps in the Iran-Iraq War," argues that to preserve institutional independence despite the lack of professional military structure and knowledge, the Revolutionary Guards borrowed informal collective habits and understandings prevalent in Shi'a communities. Alemzadeh is currently turning the dissertation into a book-long monograph and beginning a project that compares religious-military institutions across the Middle East in terms of the particular understanding and collective practice of Islam that shapes their bases.

Hassan AlmohammedHassan Almohammed, Visiting Research Scholar
Almohammed is also the Madeleine Haas Russell Visiting Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis. He previously taught French at Aleppo University before the outbreak of war in Syria when he was conscripted into military service. After defecting from the army in 2012, he worked in France as a French instructor, journalist, and translator. He previously taught at Wesleyan University and the University of California, Santa Barbara. His current book project, Photo-logies, focuses on western media and political discourses in both the West and the Middle East. He is teaching an undergraduate course, "Photology of the Syrian Uprising," this fall.

AbdelMonemSaidAlyAbdel 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. Previously, he was the President of the Al-Ahram Center for Political and 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 2004 and a Research Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University in 2003. He also 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.

Yazan DoughanYazan Doughan, Neubauer Junior Research Fellow
Doughan holds a PhD in Anthropology from the University of Chicago. His dissertation, "Corruption, Authority, and the Discursive Production of Reform and Revolution in Jordan," focuses on nativist anti-corruption social movements in Jordan during the wave of Arab uprisings of 2011-2013. His postdoctoral research project, "States of Care and Corruption: Wāsṭa and the Inscrutability of Justice," investigates the vexed legal, moral, and practical valuations of intercessory mediation and patronage in everyday life in Jordan.

Shai FeldmanShai Feldman, Crown Family 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 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 Overeducation Crisis in Turkey," European Journal of Higher Education, Summer 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.

Hanan HammadHanan Hammad, Sabbatical Fellow
Hammad is also an Associate Professor of History and Director of Middle East Studies at Texas Christian University. Her first book, Industrial Sexuality: Gender, Urbanization and Social Transformation in Egypt, won the 2017 book awards from National Women’s Studies Association (NWSA), Association of Middle East Women Studies (AMEWS), and Middle East Political Economy (PEP), among others. Hammad is completing a manuscript on the Egyptian star, Layla Murad (1918-1995), who has been one of the most remembered celebrities in the Arab musical cinema. Hammad employs Murad’s life and persona to examine the politics around sexuality, gender, ethnicity, and interfaith relationships in the largest Arab cinema industry.

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 focusing on issues such as women’s rights, ethnic rights, and labor movements.

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.

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), L'Arabie, des routes de l'encens à l'ère du pétrole (Gallimard, 2010), and Joyriding in Riyadh: Oil, Urbanism, and Road Revolt (Cambridge University Press, 2014). An ethnographer and historian, he is interested in youth, urbanism, and religion 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 about Islamic movements in contemporary Saudi Arabia entitled Graveyard of Clerics.

Daniel NeepDaniel Neep, Sabbatical Fellow
Neep is also an Assistant Professor in Arab Politics in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. His first book, Occupying Syria: Insurgency, Space, and State Formation (Cambridge University Press, 2012), explores the period of the French Mandate in Syria (1920-1946) in which conflict between armed Syrian insurgents and French military forces not only determined the strategic objectives of the colonial state, but also transformed how the colonial state organised, controlled, and understood Syrian society, geography, and population. Neep is currently finishing his second book, The Nation Belongs to All: The Making of Modern Syria, which explains Syria’s political development in terms of global transformations, changing economic infrastructures, emerging political geographies, and waves of popular protest.

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, Order from Chaos: Islam, Information, and Social Order in Iraq, is being prepared for publication by Cornell University Press. His most recent publication at the Crown Center was "The Communal Fracturing of the Jordanian Muslim Brotherhood," Middle East Brief 113, January 2018.

Gary SamoreGary Samore, Senior Executive Director and Professor of the Practice of Politics
Samore previously served as Executive Director for Research at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He also served as President Obama’s White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) for four years, including as U.S. Sherpa for the 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC and the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, Korea. He was a National Science Foundation Fellow at Harvard University, where he received his MA and PhD in government.

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 in 2012 by Oxford University Press. 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 holds a PhD in History and Middle East Studies from Harvard University, 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 Politics at Brandeis University. Her research focuses on the practices of patronage and clientelism, ethnic politics, and security 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, Austin, writing her thesis on the role of international patronage in Lebanon after the end of the civil war. From 2011-2014, Stedem worked for a number of NGOs in Lebanon focusing on civil society, transitional justice, and humanitarian aid. Stedem was recently named Outstanding Teaching Fellow for 2018 and received a Mellon Dissertation Research Grant. 

Hind Ahmed ZakiHind Ahmed Zaki, Harold Grinspoon Junior Research Fellow
Zaki holds a PhD in Political Science from the University of Washington. Zaki’s doctoral dissertation, "In the Shadow of the State: Gender Contestation and Legal Mobilization in the Context of the Arab Spring in Egypt and Tunisia," investigates new forms of mobilization around women’s rights that emerged within the broader framework of the Arab Spring in Tunisia and Egypt. Zaki analyzes how historical constructions of women’s rights, as represented in institutions and narratives of state feminism, shaped feminist mobilization in the course of the Arab Spring, resulting in surprisingly empowering episodes of legal and political mobilization for women’s rights.