Stanford Scholars of the Arab World

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Brian Johnsrud is a PhD candidate in Stanford's Modern Thought and Literature program. His research interests include the cultural memory of violence between the United States and the Middle East, particularly how the Crusades have been remembered since the late 20th century. His research methods include anthropology, cultural studies, and media and communications. He conducts ethnographic fieldwork in Lebanon each year. His website.

* Brian is the current site administrator for the Arab Studies Group

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Kristen Alff completed a Bachelors of Science in English Secondary Education and Bachelors of Arts in English literature from Boston University. After working as a literature instructor at Keio Senior Boy's High School and Keio University Foreign Languages and Literature Department in Tokyo, Japan from 2001 to 2005, she began an intensive Arabic program in Cairo, Egypt. Kristen entered a Master's Program in Middle East Studies at The American University in Cairo in fall of 2006, where she completed her Master's thesis on 'minoritization' and shifting Kurdish identity in Northern Iraq during the British Mandate period. Kristen is currently a first year PhD candidate in the History department at Stanford, studying modern Middle East history, minorities, and nationalism.
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Lucy Alford is a PhD student in Comparative Literature. She specializes in modern and contemporary poetry in English, French, German and Arabic. Her research interests include ethics, poetics, the intersections between literature and philosophy, and the relationship between literary and environmental studies. Prior to coming to Stanford she taught English, social studies, critical writing and poetry workshops in Cairo, Egypt, and completed graduate studies at the Centre for Modern Thought in Aberdeen, Scotland. Her poems have been published in the UK. 
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Catherine Baylin is a second year JD/PhD candidate in history. She is interested in international law and legal systems in the Middle East, specifically Egypt. Before coming to Stanford, she lived in Egypt for four years where she received an MA in Middle East studies from the American University in Cairo and started a non-profit organization that runs service-learning programs for American students in Cairo.
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Elizabeth Buckner is a PhD Candidate at Stanford University School of Education, specializing in International and Comparative Education and the Sociology of Education. She is interested broadly in education and globalization in the Middle East and North Africa region. Her current research studies the expansion and privatization of higher education in the region, and the link between education and employment. Elizabeth currently has an NSF Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grant (DDIG) to examine the privatization of higher education worldwide, and serves as a Research Assistant for the Arab Reform Project at Stanford's Freeman Spogli Institute. 

Elizabeth was a Fulbright grantee to Morocco in 2006, and a recipient of a Critical Language Scholarship to Oman in 2008.  She has also conducted research for the Academy for Educational Development (AED) in Morocco, Save the Children (SC) in Egypt, and the Syrian Trust for Development in Damascus. Elizabeth graduated with Highest Honors from Swarthmore College in 2006 with a B.A. in Educational Studies and Sociology, and received her M.A. in Sociology from Stanford University in 2011. She is fluent in Modern Standard Arabic and Moroccan Dirija, and is trying to learn the Levantine dialect for her future dissertation research.
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Samil Can's interests mainly focus on the recent rise of informal economies among indigent migrant populations in the urban areas of Turkey and the Middle East. He seeks to understand the surge of moral, legal and political discourses of a "new economy" among slum residents and how it culminates in a post-welfare and neoliberal governmentality of informality through embodied practices of alternative legalities and normativities. In his PhD research, he hopes to question whether and to what extent informal economy sets a new and embodied political rationality of exceptions in the urban space that negotiates and variegates state sovereignty on the level of daily practices. Before Stanford, he completed two BA degrees in Bogazici University, respectively in Political Science and Philosophy, and received his MA degree from the same university in Sociology. His website.
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Ahmed Elsisi is a Masters student at Stanford Law School. His current specialization is in
International Economic Law with a focus on the relationship between international law
and domestic courts and regulation. Ahmed holds an LL.B. from Cairo University in 2004. He started his career by working at the Egyptian Ministry of Justice as an Assistant District Attorney. After receiving a Masters degree in public law, he joined the judiciary in 2006 by working for the Egyptian State Council. Ahmed has an LL.M. degree in Intellectual Property Law from Università degli Studi di Torino in Italy. He also was awarded a Diploma in international trade and investment law from the Institute of European Studies of Macau in 2010.
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Carrie Lee is a second-year graduate student at Stanford University pursuing a Ph.D. in Political Science and an M.A. in Economics. Her research interests focus on the relationships between development, insurgency, and post-conflict reconstruction, particularly in the Middle East and South Asia. Her work currently explores the varied effects of reconstruction funding on counterinsurgency and development outcomes in Iraq and their implications for U.S. foreign policy. Current Affiliations: Stanford Center for Democracy, Development, and Rule of Law (CDDRL); Empirical Studies of Conflict (ESOC); Minerva Group on Terrorism, Governance, and Development. Past Affiliations: UCSD Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation (IGCC). Her website.
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Annette Mullaney is a third-year graduate student interested in comparative politics and international relations with a focus on North Africa and the Middle East. Her website.
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Eda Pepi is a Ph.D. student in the Culture and Society track. Her research interests include migration, mobility and trafficking, religion and gender, and environmental refugees. She plans to situate her work in Muslim communities in North and East Africa and the Middle East. Before joining the Anthropology Department at Stanford, she worked at the Social Science Research Council in the Migration Program, the Social Sciences and the Environment Initiative, and the Dissertation Proposal Development Fellowship. Eda completed her undergraduate degree in Government at Harvard University in 2006. Her website.
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Lauren Prather is a third year student in international relations and comparative politics. She is currently focused on understanding public opinion about international economic engagement in developed and developing countries, specifically perceptions of and attitudes toward foreign aid. More generally, she’s interested in political and economic development in the Middle East, democratization and elections, statebuilding, and research methods. She has conducted research in Tunisia and Morocco. Before coming to Stanford, she graduated from the University of Kansas with degrees in French and Political Science, taught English language in France, and worked as a legal assistant and interpreter at Jenner & Block LLP. Her website.
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Nick Sher is a second-year graduate student with research interests in comparative politics and international relations. His website.
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Karem Said plans to continue research on the transformative power of knowledge economy in Egypt, looking at the architectural production mobilized by this discourse, particularly of IT office parks and newly built universities in Cairo. This research stems from a broad interest in how aesthetics are instrumentally deployed to shape subjects and notions of political authority, and how such forms are actually received and experienced. Related interests include neoliberalism, urban anthropology, performance and phenomenology.

Following several years of work in journalism, she earned a master’s degree in Sociology-Anthropology from The American University in Cairo. Her master’s thesis explored the mutual production of disciplined subjects in Egyptian corporate workplaces and secondary school education, highlighting the centrality of disciplinary norms in neoliberalism. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English literature from Trinity University.
Her website.
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Omar Shakir, currently a second-year JD candidate at Stanford Law School, holds an MA in Arab Studies from Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, where he held the Khaled Juffali Scholarship, and a BA with honors in International Relations from Stanford. A 2007-2008 Fulbright Scholar in Syria, his academic work has focused on contemporary politics, human rights, and development in the Arab world. Omar has been actively involved in organizing around developments in the Middle East and has spearheaded humanitarian projects, conducted research and written on developments in Syria, Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, and the West Bank. At Stanford, Omar serves as president of the International Law Society, the Iraqi Refugee Assistance Program, and Students for Palestinian Equal Rights, co-chair of the campus chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and vice-president of the Stanford Association for Law in the Middle East, which he co-founded. He spent last summer as a legal intern for the Office of the Prosecutor at the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in The Hague.
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Ian Roderick Simpson's doctoral research examines the relationship between market and religion. He's concerned with how material culture and commercial practices shape religion at the same time as religious groups appropriate market economy, and how religious groups interact with and define themselves in relation to other groups through the market. His PhD project focuses on the archaeology of early Muslim urban communities. He's also interested in the use of methods in archaeology and ethnography to study the global as process and condition. A further research interest is the anthropology of labor, capital, and rights in relation to heritage practices. His website.
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Vladimir Troyansky is a first-year PhD student in History. He is interested in the late Ottoman Empire, specifically Ottoman-Russian connections and the Black Sea region. He graduated from the University of St Andrews, Scotland, with an MA (Hons) in Arabic and International Relations, and received his MSc in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland, where he held the Centre for the Advanced Study of the Arab World (CASAW) studentship. Prior to coming to Stanford, he studied Arabic at the University of Damascus, Syria, and the American University in Cairo, Egypt, as well as served as a research intern at Tel Aviv University, Israel.