Seminar Guests

Paul Amar

Professor of Global Studies, UC Santa Barbara
Professor Amar is a political scientist and anthropologist with affiliate appointments in Feminist Studies, Sociology, Comparative Literature, Middle East Studies, and Latin American & Iberian Studies. Before he began his academic career, he worked as a journalist in Cairo, a police reformer and sexuality rights activist in Rio de Janeiro, and as a conflict-resolution and economic development specialist at the United Nations. His books include: Cairo Cosmopolitan (2006); New Racial Missions of Policing (2010); Global South to the Rescue (2011); Dispatches from the Arab Spring (2013);  and The Middle East and Brazil (2014). His book, The Security Archipelago was awarded the Charles Taylor Award for “Best Book of the Year” in 2014 by the Interpretive Methods Section of the American Political Science Association.

Asef Bayat

Catherine and Bruce Bastian Professor of Global and Transnational Studies at the Department of Sociology, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Bayat’s current research concerns an understanding of the Arab revolutions— historically, comparatively, and sociologically. In particular, he is interested in exploring the place of popular classes in these revolutions.  Before joining Illinois, Bayat taught at the American University in Cairo for many years and served as the director of the International Institute for the Study of Islam in the Modern World (ISIM) holding the Chair of Society and Culture of the Modern Middle East at Leiden University, The Netherlands. He has conducted extensive studies on the Iranian Islamic Revolution, Islamist movements in comparative perspective since the 1970s, the non-movements of the urban poor, and Muslim youth, and women. His books include: Life as Politics: How Ordinary People Change the Middle East (Stanford, 2009) and Street Politics: Poor People’s Movements in Iran (1997).

Jeffrey Byrne

Assistant Professor of History, University of British Columbia
Professor Byrne’s speciality is international history in the modern and contemporary eras. His work focuses particularly on the late colonial and postcolonial contexts, Africa, the Middle East, “South-South” connections within the Third World, revolutionary movements, political violence, decolonization, development, and related subjects. Professor Byrne’s work has been published in journals such as The International Journal of Middle East Studies and Diplomatic History, in addition to numerous essay collections. His first book Mecca of Revolution: Algeria, Decolonization, and the Third World Order was published by Oxford University Press in April 2016.

Marlene Daut

Associate Professor of African Diaspora Studies at the Carter G. Woodson Institute for African American and African Studies and the Program in American Studies, University of Virginia
Professor Daut specializes in early Caribbean, 19th-century African American, and early modern French colonial literary and historical studies. Her first book, Tropics of Haiti: Race and the Literary History of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World, 1789-1865, was published in 2015 by Liverpool University Press’ Series in the Study of International Slavery. Her second book, Baron de Vastey and the Origins of Black Atlantic Humanism, is forthcoming in fall 2017 from Palgrave Macmillan’s series in the New Urban Atlantic. She is also working on a collaborative project entitled, An Anthology of Haitian Revolutionary Fictions (Age of Slavery). Professor Daut is the co-creator and co-editor of H-Net Commons’ digital platform, H-Haiti, and she has developed an online bibliography of fictions of the Haitian Revolution from 1787 to 1900 at the website

Murium Haleh Davis

Assistant Professor of History, University of California Santa Cruz
Professor Davis’s research interests focus on development, decolonization and race in North Africa. She is currently working on a manuscript that studies how the postwar reinvention of a market economy influenced prevailing ideas of race and national identity in Algeria. Professor Davis is also co-editing a volume entitled “North Africa and the Making of Europe” which will be published by Bloomsbury Academic Publishing in 2017. Her articles have appeared in the journals of French and Francophone Philosophy, Social Identities, and Middle East Critique. She also enjoys writing for popular audiences and has written for websites including Al-Jazeera, Jadaliyya, the Huffington Post, and Truth Out.

Behrooz Ghamari-Tabrizi

Associate Professor of History, Sociology, and Director of the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign
Professor Ghamari-Tabrizi’s work addresses the conceptual, political, and historical significance of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Through this work, he engages with questions regarding the condition of postcolonial modernity in relation to the concepts of religion, public sphere, democracy and governmentality. He is the author of Islam and Dissent in Postrevolutionary Iran and the memoir Remembering Akbar: Inside the Iranian Revolution. His most recent book, Foucault In Iran: Islamic Revolution After the Enlightenment was published in 2016 by the University of Minnesota Press.

Daniel Goldstein

Professor of Anthropology, Rutgers University
A political and legal anthropologist, Professor Goldstein studies the global meanings and practices of security, democracy, and human rights. He is concerned with questions of law, violence, and social justice for marginalized urban people in Latin America and the United States. His first book was an ethnography titled The Spectacular City: Violence and Performance in Urban Bolivia, published by Duke University Press in 2004. This was followed in 2010 by a collection titled Violent Democracies in Latin America (co-edited with Desmond Arias) and in 2012 by a second ethnography, titled Outlawed: Between Security and Rights in a Bolivian City, both from Duke University Press. Professor Goldstein’s research and writing has been supported by grants and fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the American Council of Learned Societies.

Jane Kamensky

Professor of History and Pforzheimer Foundation Director of the Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America, Harvard University
Professor Kamensky is a historian of early America, the Atlantic world, and the age of revolutions, with particular interests in the histories of family, culture, and everyday life. Her most recent book, A Revolution in Color: The World of John Singleton Copley (W.W. Norton), won the New-York Historical Society’s Barbara and David Zalaznick Book Prize in American History, the James Bradford Biography Prize of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic, and the Annibel Jenkins Biography Prize of the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and was a finalist for PEN’s Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography, the Marfield Prize for Arts Writing, and the George Washington Book Prize. Along with Prof. Sue Lanser, she was the principle investigator of the Sawyer Seminar on “Rethinking the Age of Revolutions” at Brandeis University in 2013-14.

Karen Kampwirth

Professor and Robert W. Murphy Chair in Political Science, Knox College
Professor Kampwirth’s work explores people’s attempts to radically transform their societies, and asks why those attempts sometimes succeed, and what impact participating in such movements has on the participants. She is the author of two books, Women and Guerrilla Movements: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, Cuba and Feminism and The Legacy of Revolution: Nicaragua, El Salvador, Chiapas, which explain why thousands of women joined armed revolutionary movements starting in the last quarter of the 20th century in Latin America and how that experience of radical egalitarianism led them to found feminist movements after the wars ended. Her interest in transformational politics also informs the book she co-edited, Radical Women in Latin America: Left and Right, and her articles on the Taliban and revolutionary movements in Poland and Iran.

Laurie Lambert

Assistant Professor of African and African American Studies, Fordham University
Professor Lambert is a literary critic and historian. She earned her PhD in English and American Literature from New York University in 2013. Her current book project, Forms of Survival: Black Feminist Revisions of the Grenada Revolution, examines the gendered implications of political trauma in Caribbean literature. The book analyzes how Caribbean women writers use authorship as a means of expressing cultural sovereignty and critiquing the inadequacy of hierarchical, patriarchal, and linear histories of a black radical tradition as they narrate the Grenada Revolution. Professor Lambert’s research and teaching interests include Black Feminism, Caribbean Literature and History, Black Performance Studies, Literatures and Cultures of American Imperialism, African Diasporic Literature and History, Freedom and Slavery Studies, and Black Radicalism.

Sue S. Lanser

Professor Emerita of English, Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, and Comparative Literature, Brandeis University
Professor Lanser’s scholarship encompasses work in narratology, the novel, feminist theory, sexuality studies, eighteenth-century European literature and culture, and the French Revolution. Her books include The Narrative Act:  Point of View in Prose Fiction (1981), Fictions of Authority: Women Writers and Narrative Voice (1992), and The Sexuality of History: Modernity and the Sapphic 1565-1830 (2014), honored by the American Historical Association, the American Society for Eighteenth-Century Studies, and the Lamba Literary Foundation. Her most recent anthology, co-edited with Robyn Warhol, is Narrative Theory Unbound: Queer and Feminist Approaches (2015). Along with Prof. Jane Kamensky, she was the principle investigator of the Sawyer Seminar on “Rethinking the Age of Revolutions” at Brandeis University in 2013-14.

Brian W E Meeks

Professor of Africana Studies, Chair of African Studies, Brown University
Professor Meeks’ work explores theories of revolution; Caribbean Revolutions of the Twentieth Century; hegemony, power and the state; Caribbean social and political thinkers and thought and the exploration of alternative avenues to prosperity, with emphasis on the Caribbean and the African diaspora. Professor Meeks previously served as Professor of Social and Political Change and Director of the Sir Arthur Lewis Institute of Social and Economic Studies at the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. He has also taught at Michigan State University, Florida International University and Anton de Kom University of Suriname and served as Visiting Scholar at Cambridge University, and Stanford University. He has published ten books and edited collections, including Critical Interventions in Caribbean Politics and Theory, Caribbean Revolutions and Revolutionary Theory: an Assessment of Cuba, Nicaragua and Grenada, Narratives of Resistance and Envisioning Caribbean Futures: Jamaican PerspectivesHis novel Paint the Town Red was published in 2003.

David Scott

Professor of Anthropology, Columbia University
Professor Scott is a specialist on Caribbean revolutionary history from the Haitian Revolution of 1791 to the Grenada Revolution of 1972. His work reconceptualizes the way we think the story of the colonial past informs the postcolonial present. Taking the Caribbean as his principal “field” of engagement, he approaches his work through a variety modes of inquiry: tradition and generations, dialogue and criticism, self-determination and sovereignty, tragedy and temporality, and transitional justice and liberalism. Professor Scott is the author of Refashioning Futures (1999), Conscripts of Modernity (2004), Omens of Adversity: Tragedy, Time, Memory, Justice (2014), and Stuart Hall’s Voice: Intimations of an Ethics of Receptive Generosity (based on lectures given at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa, in November-December 2013). Professor Scott is currently working on a biography of Stuart Hall.

Abdel Razzaq Takriti

Associate Professor and Arab-American Educational Foundation Chair in Modern Arab History, University of Houston
Professor Takriti’s research focuses on revolutions, transnational movements, imperialism, and intellectual history in the Arab world. He is the author of Monsoon Revolution: Republicans, Sultans, and Empires in Oman, 1965-1976 (Oxford University Press, 2013) which was a finalist for the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize for Best Debut Book in non-British History, received Honourable Mention from the University of Cambridge’s British-Kuwait Friendship Association Bookprize, and was selected by the editors of Zero Books as one of the “Best Books of 2013”. He is currently co-authoring a book (with Professor Karma Nabulsi) on the history of the Palestinian Revolution. Professor Takriti’s opinion pieces on Arab affairs have appeared in a variety of English and Arabic media outlets including The Guardian, Aljazeera English, Al-Ahram Weekly, Politics in Spires, Jadaliyya and al-Quds al-Arabi.

Sinclair Thomson

Associate Professor of History, New York University
Professor Thomson’s research focuses on indigenous social movements, and how revolutionary ideas live on in Andean collective memory and myth. Before coming to NYU, Sinclair Thomson lived and worked for a number of years in Bolivia at a time when impressive Indian and peasant political mobilization was under way. Thomson’s book We Alone Will Rule: Native Andean politics in the age of insurgency, looks at native Andean politics in the eighteenth century. He also co-authored Revolutionary Horizons: Past and Present in Bolivian Politics, to understand Bolivia’s contemporary conflicts in a deeper historical light. His current research explores the subsequent repercussions of the revolution of Tupaj Katari and Tupaj Amaru in 1780-1781. This work considers the struggle over the meaning and memory of the experience in the 1780s, the spread of news in Latin America and the Atlantic world, the lessons drawn from the episode in the independence era, and the ways in which the revolution has lived on in collective memory and myth in the Andean countries until the present.

Bernard Yack

Lerman Neubauer Professor of Democracy and Public Policy, Department of Politics, Brandeis University
Professor Yack is a political theorist who has published widely on both contemporary issues and major figures in the history of political thought. He is best known for his new book on nationalism, Nationalism and the Moral Psychology of Community (2012), and his earlier books on modern radicalism, The Longing for Total Revolution: Philosophic Sources of Discontent from Rousseau to Marx (1992), and Aristotelian Political Thought, The Problems of a Political Animal: Community, Conflict, and Justice (1993). He is currently working on a book about democratic rule, tentatively titled, The People’s Power: The Three Faces of Democratic Rule.