Siham Nuseibeh: Managing Editor, Israel/Palestine & Levant Region, Co-Editor
A Middle East native, Siham Nuseibeh is Muftah’s co-editor of Israel/Palestine & Levant Region. Siham specializes in social development issues with a particular focus on humanitarian issues related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Throughout her academic and professional careers, Siham has held various positions with media and relief work organizations around the Middle East region. Among these experiences, Siham formerly served as the editor of en.v, a magazine dedicated to social responsibility in the Middle East, and helped conceptualize The en.v Foundation – a social development initiative focused on empowering regional civil society. Siham is currently working on a sustainable recycling project for disadvantaged women in Lebanon, due to launch in 2011.
Siham holds a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism with a concentration in Politics from Boston University and a Master’s of Science degree in Development Studies from the London School of Economics.
Caroline Abadeer: Egypt & North Africa, Co-Editor
Caroline Abadeer is co-editor of Muftah’s Egypt and North Africa pages. Previously, Caroline worked at a think-tank in Washington D.C. where she contributed to capacity building projects with North African democracy promotion organizations. She has also lived in Morocco as a Fulbright scholar, studying French, Modern Standard Arabic, and Moroccan Arabic while researching democratic development and Islamist mobilization in the post-Arab Spring. Caroline is primarily interested in the politics of democratization and authoritarianism, Islamist movements, and the political economy of development in North Africa.
Caroline holds a Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Global Studies from the University of Minnesota, and is now a PhD student in Political Science at Stanford University.
Owais Arshad: Afghanistan & Pakistan, Editor
Owais Arshad is editor of Muftah’s Afghanistan and Pakistan pages. Currently, he is a management consultant based in Toronto. He has worked, traveled, and lived all over the Persian Gulf, including Bahrain, the Emirates, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. With roots in Pakistan, Owais’ writing explores the interplay between social, economic, and political developments in the country.
Livia Bergmeijer: Iran, Iraq, & Turkey, Co-Editor
Livia Bergmeijer is co-editor of Muftah’s Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages. During the second year of her university course, Livia spent a year in Cairo, Egypt where she studied Arabic at Le DEAC and worked as an English teacher at the St. Andrews School for refugees. While there, she witnessed the January 2011 revolution and protests following the fall of the Mubarak regime. For two years, Livia was chair of the Oxford Students’ Palestine Society and helped engage the Oxford student community on issues pertaining to the Israel/Palestine conflict. She has also written several articles for student and independent publications on Palestinian solidarity activism. Her academic interests include the modern politics of Iran, modern Islamic reform movements, Arab women’s literature, and contemporary political and cultural movements in the Middle East, particularly women’s movements.
Livia holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Arabic and Persian from Oxford University.
Phoebe Bierly: Egypt & North Africa, Co-editor
Phoebe Bierly is co-editor of Muftah‘s Egypt and North Africa pages. Phoebe currently works in the Middle East and North Africa division of a human rights organization based in Washington, DC., and has previously conducted research on historic and current political and cultural developments in North Africa at several think-tanks. Phoebe studied Arabic in Morocco as a recipient of the U.S. Department of State’s Critical Language Scholarship.
Phoebe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations with honors from the University of California, Davis, and also attended the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Dominic Bocci: Religion Editor
Dominic Bocci is Muftah’s Religion Editor. He is currently the Islamic law Programs Manager for the American Society for Muslim Advancement, overseeing the development of the Muftiyyah Training Program and coordinating the Global Muslim Women’s Shura Council. Prior to this position, Dominic worked for the Bureau of Development Policy at the United Nations Development Programme, where he focused on civil society engagement, Islamic governance, and international health policy. A former Fulbright fellow to the United Arab Emirates and Presidential Scholar at the American University in Cairo, Dominic is generally interested in Islam, new social movements, faith-based development, technology, and gender.
Dominic has a Master’s degree in Anthropology from Columbia University, where he studied Islamic law, legal anthropology, and international development, with a particular focus on political development and institution building. He graduated, with honors, from the University of California-Berkeley, with Bachelor’s degrees in Middle Eastern Studies and South and Southeast Asian Studies, and attended both the School of Oriental and African Studies and the American University in Beirut.
Jamila El-Gizuli: Yemen & Gulf States, Co-Editor
Jamila El-Gizuli is co-editor of Muftah’s Yemen and Gulf State pages. Jamila is currently pursuing her doctorate degree in political science at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York where she focuses on the political economy of the Middle East. Having grown up in the Sultanate of Oman and traveling extensively in the region, Jamila has developed an interest in rentierism and the phenomenon’s social, political, and economic consequences. Her undergraduate thesis examined the interplay of religion and secularism in the prospects for civil revolution in Iran.
Jamila holds a Bachelor’s degree summa cum laude in International Studies from the City College of New York. She is fluent in Arabic and Russian.
Heather Hartlaub: Israel/Palestine & Levant Region, Co-Editor
Heather Hartlaub is co-editor for Muftah’s Israel/Palestine & Levant Region pages. During her undergraduate career, Heather studied Arabic, Islamic art, and the modern politics of the Middle East and North Africa in Amman, Jordan. She completed her undergraduate honor’s project on Saudi Arabia’s expansion and consolidation of power, which included primary research in Jerusalem and London. Previously, Heather was the Executive Editor for The St. Lawrence Review, a campus publication. Currently, she is a MENA politics writer for PolicyMic.
Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Middle Eastern History and Arabic with honors from St. Lawrence University.
Erin Kilbride: Yemen & Gulf Countries, Co-Editor
Erin Kilbride is co-editor of Muftah’s Yemen and Gulf States pages. She spent the past year teaching English, researching, and writing from Bahrain. Her work explores the intersections of human rights violations, conflicting modalities of protest, and critical theory. Erin has previously worked with Penal Reform International, the US-Afghan Women’s Council, Ashoka, and as a Research Intern at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Manama. She is currently teaching and working with Arabic speaking immigrant populations in the US.
Erin holds a Bachelors degree in Women and Gender Studies and Arabic Language from Georgetown University, and attended the University of Jordan in Amman. Find her via @neo_chlo.
Kelby Olson: Egypt & North Africa, Art + Culture, Co-Editor
Kelby Olson is co-editor of Muftah’s Egypt and North Africa & Art + Culture pages. Currently based in Cairo, Kelby recently completed her graduate studies focusing on contemporary politics, anthropology, and Egyptian cultural history. She has traveled extensively throughout the region and since 2005 has intermittently spent time in Egypt studying Arabic, working in education policy, and coaching volleyball. Kelby is primarily interested in popular culture, modern Arabic literature and translation, sports, urbanization, and Nescafe.
Kelby holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Political Science from the University of California, San Diego and a Master’s degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Harvard University. She is a 2012-2013 fellow at the Center for Arabic Studies Abroad (CASA) at the American University in Cairo.
Joseph Podrasky: Egypt & North Africa, Co-editor
Joseph Podrasky is co-editor of Muftah’s Egypt and North Africa pages. Previously, Joseph lived in Washington, D.C. and worked at a development firm where he assisted on a capacity building project within the Iraqi government. He also worked at a think-tank where he contributed research, translation, and analysis on Middle East transitions, including Egypt and Bahrain. He has lived in Morocco and Egypt, and was awarded a 2013 Fulbright research grant to Egypt. He is interested in the overlap between business and politics in the Middle East, and Arabic hip-hop.
Joseph holds a Bachelors of Arts degrees in Anthropology and Arabic from Michigan State University and has attended the University of Alexandria, Egypt. He tweets at @JoePodrasky.
Nima Shirazi: Iran, Iraq, & Turkey, Co-Editor
Nima Shirazi is co-editor of Muftah’s Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages. Nima is an independent researcher and political commentator from New York City where he runs the weblog WideAsleepinAmerica.com. He is a contributing columnist for Mondoweiss and his analysis of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East has appeared in media outlets as Al Jazeera English, Salon, Alternet, and Prism Magazine. Nima is also a member of the Gulf/2000 Project, an academic forum and online resource service sponsored by the School of International and Public Affairs at Columbia University. He lives in Brooklyn, NY.
Nima has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Classical Civilization from Oberlin College. Nima tweets @WideAsleepNima.
Fiona Shukri: Editor-at-Large
Fiona Shukri is editor-at-large at Muftah.
Fiona Shukri is editor-at-large at Muftah. Much of her 24-year career has been spent conducting outreach on foreign affairs issues for international news media, private sector parties, universities, NGOs, and both U.S. and foreign governments. Fiona has been traveling to the Middle East region for 10 years, liaising with Arab members of government, civil society, media, academics, and activists. She has been working in Afghanistan since 2008, and is currently based in Kabul working as a policy advocacy and government outreach advisor.
Fiona worked as a newspaper reporter before earning a Master’s degree in Near East Studies and Journalism from New York University. She is currently writing a book on U.S. media imaging of Arabs, Muslims, and the Middle East.
Mareike Transfeld: Yemen & Gulf Countries, Co-editor
Mareike Transfeld is co-editor of Muftah’s Yemen and Gulf countries pages. Based in Berlin, Mareike is currently a visiting fellow at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs and heads the research department at the Yemen Polling Center (YPC) in Sana’a, where she manages the Yemen Parliament Watch project (ypwatch.org). Having regularly consulted NGOs and government organizations, Mareike is experienced in policy research, with a specific focus on youth activism and security in Yemen. She has previously held internships at the German Foreign Office and the German Embassy in Yemen. Having lived in Tunisia and Yemen for extended periods, Mareike has developed a deep understanding of Middle Eastern culture and society. Her current research interests include youth activism and protest as well as authoritarian regimes and oppositional parties.
Mareike holds a Master’s degree in Politics with minors in Islamic Studies and Contemporary History from the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany. She tweets at @ProjectYemen.
Scott Williamson: Egypt & North Africa, Co-editor
Scott Williamson is co-editor of Muftah’s Egypt and North Africa pages. Currently based in Washington DC, Scott spent the past year in Cairo as a 2012-2013 CASA Fellow at the American University in Cairo. While in Cairo, Scott studied Arabic and worked at an Egyptian think tank. He has also traveled widely in the Middle East and studied and conducted research in Jordan. Scott’s interests include politics in authoritarian regimes, social movements, and democratic transitions.
Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani: Art + Culture & Iran, Iraq, and Turkey, Co-editor
Hanif Zarrabi-Kashani co-edits Muftah’s Art + Culture page, as well as its Iran, Iraq, and Turkey pages. A writer and analyst of Iranian affairs, Hanif currently works as a consultant for the Middle East Program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and is the author of the Center’s Iran Election Update. Prior to this, Hanif served as a research assistant for visiting scholars as well as a staff assistant at the Center. Based in Washington, D.C., Hanif is a contributing writer at IranWire, has studied Persian in both Tajikistan and Iran, and has taught English at the university level in Iran. He has spoken on the state of Iranian affairs on BBC World News and Al-Jazeera English.
Hanif holds a Bachelor’s degree in Middle Eastern History from California State University Northridge, a certificate of Persian Studies from California State University Fullerton, and a Master’s degree in Persian Studies from the University of Maryland, College Park. He tweets at @hanifzk.
OUR STAFF WRITERS
Yazan L. al-Saadi is a native of the West Asian (Middle East) region. Based primarily in Kuwait, Yazan has lived, studied and worked in three continents. He is a freelance writer and researcher with interests in a number of subjects from pop-culture to politics, sociological issues to economic theories. He is currently an editor and writer for the online blog Kabobfest and a correspondent for the Lebanese newspaper, Al Akhbar English.
Yazan holds a Bachelor’s (Honors) degree in Economics and Development Studies from Queen’s University, Canada and a Masters of Arts in Law, Development, and Globalization from the School of Oriental and African Studies.
George Bajalia is a Chicago-based theatre artist and cultural critic. His research interests lie at the intersection of cultural globalization, identity performance, and transnationalism within the Mediterranean region. Previously, he was a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco, where he adapted and directed a Moroccan Arabic production of West Side Story in addition to continuing research on the role of performance, on stage and off, in public discourse. George is co-founder and artistic director of the new, transnational mobile arts lab called the Borderline Theatre Project, and is working with the Chicago theatre company Silk Road Rising on a short film entitled: “Multi Meets Poly; Multiculturalism and Polyculturalism Go on a First Date”. He is also working on his new play, The Magic Carpet, which examines the militarization of the border between Morocco and Algeria and the economies of exchange, both formal and informal, between residents on either side of the border.
George holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication Studies and Mediterranean Culture and History from Northwestern University.
Thalia Beaty is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in journalism and Near East Studies at New York University. Previously, Thalia worked as a research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations where she followed political and economic developments in North Africa and the Gulf with a particular focus on women. Thalia has worked at education and environmental organizations in Cairo, Egypt. A lover of Arabic literature and popular media, she is interested in the intersections of culture, language, and politics.Thalia holds a Bachelor’s degree in Middle East Studies from Brown University and was a fellow at the Center for Arabic Study Abroad (CASA) at the American University in Cairo from 2009 to 2010.
Based in Washington, DC, Ayesha Chugh currently works as a Research Coordinator at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), an NGO that seeks to strengthen democracy by improving electoral systems. Prior to IFES, she served as a Pakistan researcher at the United States Institute of Peace’s Center for Conflict Management. Spending most of her childhood in different parts of India, Ayesha is passionate about identity and its linkages with political life. While living in India, Ayesha developed considerable knowledge and experience within the Indian NGO sector, and has a deep understanding of the problems and prospects of governance and development in South Asia.
Ayesha holds a Master’s degree in the Democracy and Governance program at Georgetown University’s Department of Government. She also holds a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from Scripps College, where she attended the London School of Economics during her junior year.
Melissa Dzenis is a researcher and international development consultant with diverse professional experience in management consulting, Middle East policy and International Human Rights Law. Melissa has lived and studied Arabic in Morocco, Lebanon, and Egypt, and has worked with various NGOs both in the United States and abroad, including the Wallace Global Fund, Lebanese Emigration Research Center, KARAMAH, and the EastWest Institute. Most recently, Melissa worked in Cairo, Egypt, as a consultant with the NGOs Coalition Against FGM/C, liasing with various UN Agencies and 76 different civil society, medical, and legal actors to embolden and restructure social-norms based approaches to combating gender-based violence and FGM/C in Egypt. Her research interests include MENA investment strategies, sectarian dynamics, civil society and democratization aid, Islamic legal studies, and post-colonial Arab identity.
Melissa holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Relations and Middle East Studies with honors from Brown University. For her undergraduate thesis, which explored Lebanese conceptions of consociational citizenship, civic identity, and confessional politics among university students, Melissa conducted fieldwork throughout Lebanon, holding focus groups with students in the Bekaa, Tripoli, Beirut , Sidon, and Tyre. Her research explored the politicization of university spaces and the implications of confessionally disparate democratization-aid provision for student attitudes toward civil society initiatives. Melissa tweets at @melissadzenis.
Nancy Elshami is a researcher and political commentator, whose work has been featured on ZNet, Jadaliyya, and World Policy Blog. She is a research analyst at Cornell University’s Institute for Compensation Studies, and a former fellow at the Economic and Business History Research Center at the American University in Cairo. Her interests include political economy, labor rights, and gender politics in the modern Middle East.
Nancy is the Perkins Fellow at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, where she is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Labor Market Policy and International & Comparative Labor. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economic History and Middle Eastern Studies from Barnard College.
Kübra analyses on political and social issues in Turkey, mainly in Turkish, can be found at http://hkubra.org. She also blogs in English at http://hkubra.tumblr.com and can be followed on Twitter at @hkubra.
Based in London, Saleem Haddad is a researcher and consultant on the Middle East and Horn of Africa, with a specific focus on conflict analysis, refugees, complex emergencies, humanitarian and development issues and media and communications in the region. He is also a regular contributor to newspapers and magazines in the Middle East, with a focus on regional and foreign policy. For three years Saleem worked with Medecins Sans Frontieres in Iraq (2009) and Yemen (2008, 2009). He has also worked in Jordan with the Center for Strategic Studies, the Overseas Development Institute, and as consultant to the European Commission on Euro-Mediterranean relations.
Saleem holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics and Development Studies from Queen’s University in Canada and a Master’s of Science degree in Development Studies from the School of Oriental and African Studies in London.
Zeynep Kosereisoglu’s research interests focus on democratization processes in the Middle East and North Africa, as well as the legal transformations and economic relations that have shaped the region. She has written for student journals at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, various think tanks in Turkey, and websites in the UK. She is currently writing her dissertation, which is entitled the “Turkish Constitutional Court and the Shaping of the Turkish Political Identity.” Her analyses of recent events in the Middle East can be found at her Turkish blog Ortadogupolitik.
Zeynep is pursuing a Master’s degree in Near and Middle East studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. She also holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Middle East studies from the University of St. Andrews.
Francesca Recchia is an independent researcher and writer who has worked and taught in different parts of the world, including India, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Palestine. She is interested in the geopolitical dimensions of cultural processes and in recent years has focused her research on urban transformations and creative practices in countries in conflict. Her work is grounded in an interdisciplinary approach that combines Urban, Visual and Cultural Studies. Francesca was a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Bartlett School of Planning, University College of London, and is now a Research Associate at the Centre of South Asian Studies at SOAS, London and a Visiting Lecturer at Università Bocconi in Milan. She was the director of the 4th Afghanistan Contemporary Art Prize and is now organizing the first Kabul Literature festival and working on a book titled The Little Book of Kabul.
Francesca has a PhD in Cultural Studies from the Oriental Institute in Naples and a Master’s degree in Visual Cultures from Goldsmiths College, University of London.
Amanda Rogers is a PhD Candidate (Art History) and an Arabic Lecturer (Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies) at Emory University. Her work has been featured in The Journal of North African Studies, H-Net, Aslan Media, and Kifah Libya, among others. She has been a fellow of numerous granting organizations, including Fulbright IIE, Fulbright Hays, AIMS (American Institute of Maghrib Studies), AIYS (American Institute of Yemeni Studies), and CAORC (Council of American Overseas Research Centers). Her research interests include the intersection of gender, religion, art, violence, popular culture and politics across the Middle East and North Africa.
She has taught and conducted research across Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, Algeria, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates. She is currently completing her dissertation and is serving as the Dean’s Distinguished Teaching fellow at Emory University, in the Departments of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies, in conjunction with the History of Art. She holds a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Studio Arts and Art History from the University of Kansas. Her academic work can be found at http://emory.academia.edu/
Sara Salem is a PhD researcher at the Institute of Social Studies in the Netherlands. Her work focuses on historical and institutional perspectives on political economy, and centers specifically on the recent wave of uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa. Her interests include decolonial theory, third world feminism, critical political economy, and theories of post-development. She has lived in Zambia, Egypt, and the Netherlands, and is especially interested in Southern Africa and the Middle East, and formulating new forms of knowledges through decolonizing discourses that were naturalized through colonial processes. She has worked at numerous NGOs in Cairo, mainly on issues of political participation and gender.
She completed her Bachelor’s degree in sociology at the American University in Cairo and went on to complete Master’s degrees in Middle East studies and in International Development in the Netherlands. She tweets @saramsalem.
Originally from Toronto, Canada, David Sheen is an independent journalist and filmmaker living in Dimona, Israel. Sheen began blogging when he first moved to Israel in 1999 and went on to work as a reporter and editor at the Israeli daily newspaper, Haaretz. His full-length documentary on ecological architecture, “First Earth”, was translated into a dozen languages and published by PM Press in 2010. Later that year, Sheen also gave a TEDx talk on the film’s subject matter in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is currently writing a book about the struggles and experiences of African immigrants in Israel.
Ashely E. Williams
Ashley E. Williams is a freelance writer and library assistant living in Austin, TX. For her capstone research project in college, she focused on 19th century French travel-painters living in Turkey and Morocco, and how their works helped shape fantastical European conceptions of the Orient. Ashley served as a Fulbright scholar in Morocco, where she taught college English and founded Ibn Tofail University’s first English Department library. Anything culture and arts sparks her interest: Ashley’s tapestry of experience also includes associate producing a Discovery Channel film on Himalayan glaciers, blogging on cinema, and cooking dishes from her travels around the world. Ashley could not live without books, and is herself a writer of short fiction.
A Kemper scholar and a member of Phi Beta Kappa, Ashley graduated with honors from Agnes Scott College in Decatur, GA with a degree in Art History and French.
Sarah’s Egyptian heritage inspires her writing, which focuses on literature, art and culture, gender politics, and fashion in the MENA region. An entrepreneurial thinker, driven by unique ideas and doing things differently, Sarah has been inspired by the shifting dynamics of the publishing industry to create her own literary events brand: BOOKED, hosting spoken words events to create a different kind of literary experience.
Sarah holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature & History from the University of Sheffield and a Master’s degree in Publishing from University College London. Sarah can be followed on Twitter @sarahzakzouk
Samira Irani: Tech Guru
Samira Irani is a software developer at a start-up in Seattle. She was previously at Microsoft as a program manager, and has been working in the technology sector for about three years. She has always held a strong interest in the development and politics of the Middle East, especially Iran. She is a passionate believer that education and access to technology will help lead to economic growth and political stability in the region, and plans to pursue a career that would allow her to contribute in those capacities.Samira holds a Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science from the The University of Texas at Austin.