Past and Current Participants:

Samar Al-Bulushi, UC Irvine

Samar Al-Bulushi’s doctoral dissertation, Citizen-Suspect: Publics, Politics, and the Transnational Security State in East Africa, explores the relationship between transnational governance, militarized urbanisms, and Muslim middle class subject formation in the context of Kenya’s growing role in the US-led  ‘War on Terror.’ She employs the term ‘citizen-suspect’ to theorize the urban Muslim minority citizen as someone whose rights are legally enshrined, but whose participation in public life is increasingly subject to transnational regimes of surveillance, suspicion, and violence. The dissertation explores how the gendered and racialized hyper-visibility of middle class Muslims becomes embodied, and how surveillance and suspicion shape the substance of participatory politics. Funded by the Social Science Research Council, the Henry Luce Foundation, and Yale University’s MacMillan Center, she conducted fifteen months of ethnographic research in the Kenyan cities of Mombasa and Nairobi between 2013-2015.

Maryam Al-Khawaja, Gulf Center for Human Rights

Maryam al-Khawaja is one of Bahrain’s leading human rights defenders and activists, the former Acting President of Bahrain Center for Human Rights, and Special Advisor of Advocacy for the Gulf Center for Human Rights.

Paul Amar, UC Santa Barbara

Paul Amar is a political scientist and  anthropologist with affiliate appointments in Feminist Studies,  Sociology, Comparative Literature, Middle East Studies, and Latin  American & Iberian Studies. He currently serves as Director of the MA  and PhD Programs in Global Studies and Coordinator of the Global Security Studies Hub at UCSB.  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).

Asli Bali, UCLA 

Asli Bâli is Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law, Faculty Director of the UCLA Law Promise Institute for Human Rights, and Director of the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies. She currently teaches Public International Law, International Human Rights, a seminar on the Laws of War and a Perspectives seminar on Third World Approaches to International Law. Bâli’s principal scholarly interests lie in two areas: public international law—including human rights law and the law of the international security order—and comparative constitutional law, with a focus on the Middle East. Her current research examines questions of constitutional design in religiously-divided societies. She has previously written on the nuclear non-proliferation regime, international legal arguments concerning humanitarian intervention, and the role of judicial independence in constitutional transitions. Bâli’s recent scholarship has appeared in the American Journal of International Law Unbound, International Journal of Constitutional Law, UCLA Law Review, Yale Journal of International Law, Cornell Journal of International Law, Virginia Journal of International Law, Geopolitics, Studies in Law, Politics and Society and edited volumes published by Cambridge University Press and Oxford University Press.

Catherine Besteman, Colby College

Catherine Besteman’s teaching and research interests focus on analyzing power dynamics that produce and maintain inequality, racism and violence, as well as activist and community efforts for social change. She has studied these issues in southern Somalia, South Africa, and the U.S. Her work has been supported by grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, Guggenheim Foundation, American Council of Learned Societies, the Wenner-Gren Foundation, the School of Advanced Research, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.She recently completed Making Refuge, a book about Somali Bantu efforts in the U.S., Kenya, and Somalia to fashion lives at the intersection of militarism and humanitarianism as an example of a new norm of globalization, analyzing the way the refugees are creating subjectivities and new social relations as paradigmatic of a new global order.

Rosie Bsheer, History, Yale University

Rosie Bsheer is a historian of the modern Middle East, whose teaching and research interests center on Arab intellectual and social movements, petro-capitalism and state formation, and the production of historical knowledge and commemorative spaces. She is currently working on a book manuscript, provisionally entitled, Crude Empire: Transnational Infrastructures of State Making in Saudi Arabia. A genealogy of the Saudi petro-state, Crude Empire explores the transnational political, economic, and social networks that have shaped state formation since the early twentieth century. Specifically, it focuses on the networks of merchant diasporas operating across the Middle East and the Indian Ocean, and the ways in which their global financial infrastructures have enabled the making of the authoritarian monarchy and economic and urban life therein. While petro-capitalism altered the nature of Saudi political power, this book shows the ways in which capitalist accumulation through diasporic financing as well as land speculation remained instrumental to the formation of the petro-state. At the same time, professor Bsheer is working on another book project, provisionally entitled, Archive Wars: Materiality, Commemoration, and the Politics of History in Saudi Arabia. Archive Wars attends to practices of historical memorialization embodied in the protracted and ongoing production of Saudi national archives. It focuses on the production of archives as both historical sources and political forms of engineering; the truths they authorize; the discourses of history, social relations, and geography that they mobilize and circulate; and the power struggles and opposition they engender. Tracing the genesis of archival praxis to the 1960s, the book discerns the multi-sited struggles that have since taken place over the centralization of official history and their consequences to everyday political and social life.

Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn, Yale University

Gavriel Cutipa-Zorn is a PhD Candidate in American Studies and a Certificate Candidate in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University. His research and teaching engage issues of security expertise and militarization, states and sovereignty, and surveillance and imperialism during the second half of the twentieth century. His dissertation project, Veins of Repression: US-Israeli Covert Arms and Counterinsurgency in Central America, examines how counterinsurgent tactics shaped racial regimes and political sovereignty across the United States, Israel, and Central America in the late Cold War. Focusing on archival research in Guatemala, Nicaragua, Mexico, Israel and in the United States, he examines how this transnational security circuit reshaped the racial logics of warfare and contributed to contemporary tactics of surveillance and counterinsurgency.

Anila Daulatzai, Independent Scholar

Anila Daulatzai is a socio-cultural anthropologist with active research projects in both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Her current interests primarily circulate around the themes of war and humanitarianism, as well as the related themes of violence and care. She was trained at UCLA in Public Health and in Islamic Studies, and completed her PhD in Socio-cultural Anthropology in 2013 from the Johns Hopkins University.

Mayanthi Fernando, U.C. Santa Cruz

Mayanthi Fernando’s first book, The Republic Unsettled alternates between an analysis of Muslim French politics, ethics, and social life and the contradictions of French secularity (laïcité) that this new Muslim subjectivity reflects and refracts. It explores how Muslim French draw on both Islamic and secular-republican traditions as they create new modes of ethical and political engagement, reconfiguring those traditions to imagine a future for France. It also examines how the institutions, political and legal practices, and dominant discourses that comprise French secularity regulate and govern–and profoundly disrupt–Muslim life. In so doing, it traces a series of long-standing tensions immanent to laïcité, tensions not so much generated as precipitated by the presence of Muslim French. It argues, ultimately, that “the Muslim question” is actually a question about secularism. Her new project attends to the nexus of sex and religion in the articulation of modern secularity, analyzing how the secular state’s project of regulating and transforming religious life is interwoven with its project of sexual normalization, i.e. the production of secular, sexually “normal” citizens.

Sahana Ghosh, Yale University

Sahana Ghosh is a Ph.D. candidate in Anthropology and a Certificate candidate in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale. Her research interests center around migration and mobility, gender and state security architectures, ethics and illicit economies, bordering practices and spatial politics, and agrarian South Asia. Her doctoral dissertation, Borderland orders: Gendered economies of mobility and security across the India-Bangladesh border, follows transnational networks of kin, agrarian commerce, and contraband businesses in the borderlands of India and Bangladesh from the 1950s to the present. It explores the processes through which spaces become constituted as borderlands of nation-states, paying attention to the economies, identities, politics, and social relations that are enabled and foreclosed by dwelling in such spaces. In particular, it traces the militarization of this border, examining civil-military encounters and the gendered labour of border security practices to theorize the gendering of danger, threat, and safety that occurs at different scales. Overall, the dissertation is interested in how security states constitute themselves and the many, often intimate, ways in which they become entrenched in the everyday lives of citizens. The dissertation draws on two years of ethnographic and archival research conducted in India and Bangladesh, funded by the Wenner Gren Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, the National Science Foundation, the Luce Foundation, and Yale University’s MacMillan Center. Her writing has been published in Gender, Place, and Culture, Contemporary South Asia, Himal, The Hindu, and is forthcoming in the Economic and Political Weekly.

Inderpal Grewal, Yale University

Inderpal Grewal is Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. She is also Professor in the Ethnicity, Race and Migration Studies Program, and the South Asian Studies Council, and affiliate faculty in the American Studies Program. Her research interests include transnational feminist theory; gender and globalization; NGO’s and theories of civil society; theories of travel and mobility; South Asian cultural studies, and postcolonial feminism.  She is the author of Home and Harem: Nation, Gender, Empire and the Cultures of Travel (Duke University Press, 1996) and Transnational America: Feminisms, Diasporas, Neoliberalisms(Duke University Press, 2005). With Caren Kaplan, she has written and edited Gender in a Transnational World: Introduction to Women’s Studies (Mc-Graw Hill 2001, 2005) and Scattered Hegemonies: Postmodernity and Transnational: Feminist Practices (University of Minnesota Press, 1994). With Victoria Bernal, she has edited Theorizing NGO’s: States, Feminism and Neoliberalism (Duke University Press, 2014). She has forthcoming a book on the relation between security, gender, race and American neoliberalism, entitled “Exceptional Citizens? Advanced Neoliberalism, Surveillance and Security in Contemporary USA” (Duke University Press, 2016). Her ongoing projects include essays on the relation between transnational media, corruption and sexual violence, and a book project on masculinity and power in the memoirs of elite bureaucrats in postcolonial India.

Zareena Grewal, Yale University

Zareena Grewal is an Associate Professor in American Studies, Religious Studies, and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University.  Her first book is a historical ethnography of transnational Islamic intellectual networks in the US, titled “Islam is a Foreign Country: American Muslims and the Crisis of Islam” (NYU 2013). Grewal’s current project funded by Luce examines the discourses around Islam and slavery/bonded labor in Pakistan as they connect to security discourses and religious and gender ideologies using the case of Syeda Ghulam Fatima and her Lahore-based NGO, Bonded Labour Liberation Front. Fatima’s story has garnered a great deal of attention in the US, especially once she was highlighted by the popular photoblog Humans of Pakistan, a derivative of Humans of New York as “Pakistan’s Harriet Tubman,” a local, female reformer and national heroine fighting for human rights and against modern slavery in the form of bonded labour in the brick kilns in Punjab. Despite being celebrated in the US, even receiving the Clinton Foundations Global Citizen Award, she is under a great deal of scrutiny from the Pakistani government and from local landowners invested in maintaining the status quo. In this regard, her visibility to publics outside of Pakistan provide her protection from hostile parties within Pakistan in order to pursue this controversial advocacy work on behalf of brick kiln workers. One of the ways landowners attack Fatima is by challenging the Islamic grounds of her work. Grewal research explores how state intervention and state surveillance relies on the cooperation of local religious patriarchs who are critical of human rights workers advocating for brick kiln workers and how NGOs and human rights activists respond and, importantly, how these political negotiations play out on a global media stage.

Sylvester A. Johnson, Virginia Tech

Sylvester Johnson is the professor and director of the Center of the Humanities at Virginia Tech. Some of his research and teaching interests include African American religious history; Race, Religion and COINTELPRO; and Religion and colonialism in the Black Atlantic. Johnson is author of fifty publications, including two monographs: The Myth of Ham in Nineteenth-Century American Christianity: Race, Heathens, and the People of God (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), and African American Religions, 1500-2000: Colonialism, Democracy, and Freedom (Cambridge University Press, 2015). Johnson is also founding Co-Editor of the Journal of Africana Religions, the first peer-reviewed journal to publish research on the global religious traditions among African and African-descended peoples.

Cindi Katz, City University of New York

Cindi Katz is Professor of Geography in Environmental Psychology and Women’s Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Her work concerns social reproduction and the production of space, place and nature; children and the environment, and the consequences of global economic restructuring for everyday life. She has published widely on these themes as well as on social theory and the politics of knowledge in edited collections and in journals such as Society and Space, Social Text,Signs, Feminist Studies, Annals of the Association of American Geographers, Social Justice, and Antipode. She is the editor (with Janice Monk) of Full Circles: Geographies of Gender over the Life Course (Routledge 1993) and of Life’s Work: Geographies of Social Reproduction (with Sallie Marston and Katharyne Mitchell) (Blackwell 2004). She recently completed Growing up Global: Economic Restructuring and Children’s Everyday Lives with University of Minnesota Press in 2004. Katz held a fellowship at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University, and she continues to work on the project she began there concerning the shifting geographies of late twentieth century US childhood.

Ramzi Kassem, City University of New York

Ramzi Kassem is a Professor of Law at the City University of New York where he co-directs the Immigrant & Non-Citizen Rights Clinic. With his students, Professor Kassem represents prisoners of various nationalities presently or formerly held at American facilities at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan, at so-called “Black Sites,” and at other detention sites worldwide. In connection with these cases, Professor Kassem and his students have appeared as party counsel and submitted merits briefs before U.S. federal district and appellate courts, before the U.S. Supreme Court, as well as before the military commissions at Guantánamo. Kassem also supervises the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility (CLEAR) project, which primarily aims to address the legal needs of Muslim, Arab, South Asian, and other communities in the New York City area that are particularly affected by national security and counterterrorism policies and practices.

Laleh Khalili, SOAS University of London

Laleh Khalili’s first book, Heroes and Martyrs of Palestine: The Politics of National Commemoration (Cambridge 2007) drew on ethnographic research in the Palestinian refugee camp of Burj al-Barajna in Lebanon and focussed on the particular genres of commemoration – from the heroic practices of the heady days of Third Worldism to the tragic discourses of an era in which NGOs are ascendant. She also edited Modern Arab Politics (Routledge 2008) and co-edited (with Jillian Schwedler) Policing and Prisons in the Middle East: Formations of Coercion(Hurst/OUP 2010). Her most recent book, Time in the Shadows: Confinement in Counterinsurgencies (Stanford 2013), drew on interviews with former detainees of Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and various Israeli detention camps and prisons – and military officers, guards, and interrogators, as well as a large number of archival sources to show the continuities in practices of detention in liberal counterinsurgencies from the Boer War until today.  Her Time in the Shadows was the winner of the Susan Strange Best Book Prize of the British International Studies Association and the 2014 best book award of the International Political Sociology section of the ISA.

Kathryn Lofton, Yale University

Kathryn Lofton is a historian of religion who has written extensively about capitalism, celebrity, sexuality, and the concept of the secular. In her work, she has examined the ways the history of religion is constituted by the history of popular culture and the emergence of corporations in modernity. Her first book, Oprah: The Gospel of an Icon (2011) used the example of Oprah Winfrey’s multimedia productions to evaluate the material strategies of contemporary spirituality. Her second book, Consuming Religion (2017) offers a profile of religion and its relationship to consumption through a series of case studies including the family Kardashian and the Goldman Sachs Group. Her next book-length study will consider the religions of American singer-songwriter Bob Dylan.

Catherine Lutz, Brown University

Catherine Lutz is the author or co-author of many books and articles on a range of issues, including security and militarization, gender violence, education, and transportation.  Writing and speaking widely in a variety of media, she has also consulted with civil society organizations as well as with the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations and the government of Guam. She is past president of the American Ethnological Society and was selected as a Guggenheim Fellow and a Radcliffe Fellow.

Mehammed Mack, Smith College

Mehammed Mack’s first book, Sexagon: Muslims, France, and the Sexualization of National Culture, was released from Fordham University Press in January 2017. Meck’s research focuses on contemporary immigration to France, gender and sexuality, diversity in the banlieues, and the relation between culture and politics. His larger teaching and research interests include Franco-Arab cultures, travel literature, the development French Islam and media studies. He has published articles in the Journal of Arabic Literature; Comparative Literature Studies; Hétérographes; Jadaliyya; SITES; Al Jazeera English; Contretemps, The Funambulist; and Newsweek. Mack worked as a journalist at the LA Weekly prior to entering academia.

Najwa Mayer, Yale University

Najwa Mayer is a PhD candidate in American Studies at Yale University, where she also completed her Master’s concentration in Public Humanities. She received her BA in Literature at the University of California, San Diego. She is currently completing her dissertation, Muslim Americana in Formation and Circulation: 21stCentury Muslim American Popular Cultures and Emerging Visual Vernaculars. Her dissertation brings together theoretical work in the studies of Genre, Performance, and Visual Culture to read three contemporary genres of prolific Muslim American activity: taqwacore(or, Muslim punk), standup comedy, and graphic literature.

Historically situated within the multinational War on Terror project, her work examines the aesthetic economies of Muslim artists in relation to their insecure subjectivities. She also compares the varying investments of nation-states, Islamic institutions, media networks, and North American Muslim cultural producers and consumers in producing and globally circulating Muslim American cultural and racial identities via commoditized and aestheticized cultural products.

Melani McAlister, George Washington University

Melani McAlister specializes in the multiple “global visions” produced by and for Americans. In her writing and teaching, she focuses on the ways in which cultural and political history intersect, and on the role of religion and culture in shaping US “interests” in other parts of the world. Her own interests include nationalism and transnationalism; cultural theory; religion and culture; the rhetoric of foreign policy; and cultural and media history (including television, film, print, and digital). Professor McAlister is the author of Epic Encounters: Culture, Media, and U.S. Interests in the Middle East since 1945 (rev. ed. 2005, orig. 2001), and the co-editor, with R. Marie Griffith, of Religion and Politics in the Contemporary UnitedStates (2008). She has recently completed The Kingdom of God Has No Borders: A Global History of American Evangelicals (forthcoming from Oxford University Press in 2018), a study of US Christian evangelicals, popular culture, and international affairs. The book examines the ways in which US evangelicals understood their own international interests, focusing in particular on the Middle East and Africa. McAlister explores US evangelical investments, from their fears of decolonization in the 1960s to activism on international religious freedom in the 1990s to responses to the Iraq war after 2003.

Neloufer de Mel, University of Colombo

Neloufer de Mel is Senior Professor of English at the Department of English, University of Colombo, Sri Lanka. She is the author of Militarizing Sri Lanka: Popular Culture, Memory and Narrative in the Armed Conflict (2007), Women and the Nation’s Narrative: Gender and Nationalism in 20th Century Sri Lanka (2001), and several book chapters and journal articles that bring together multidisciplinary perspectives on society and culture, feminism, literature, film and performance art. She was a member of the jury of the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize (Euro-Asia region) in 2008, and has served on several juries at film and theatre festivals.

Deepti Misri, University of Colorado, Boulder

Deepti Misri is associate professor at University of Colorado. Her areas of interest span South Asian literary and cultural production, transnational feminist studies, feminist theory and criticism, and postcolonial studies.

Corinna Mullin, University of Tunis

Dr Mullin’s current research focuses on: genealogies of ‘national security’ and ‘state of emergency’; politics and political economy of the ‘war on terror’; discourses of power and state formation; critical race theory; knowledge production; global governance; contentious politics, with a focus on North Africa, West Asia, the US. Additional research interests include: global historical sociology; postcolonial/decolonial theory; comparative politics and comparative political theory; religion, secularism and law; theories of state power; political economy of violence; capitalism/(neo)liberalism.

Michael Nijhawan, York University

Michael Nijhawan’s current research focuses on the long-term effects of social, legal and political violence on Sikh and Ahmadi diaspora communities in Toronto and Frankfurt. He is exploring how these communities negotiate experiences of both marginalization and resilience in the context of everyday lived religion. In his research, he uses the concept of ‘precarious diasporas’ as a conduit to explore the fragility, mutability and complexity of diaspora communities.

Kevin O’Neill, University of Toronto

Kevin O’Neill is Professor in the Department for the Study of Religion and Director of the Centre for Diaspora and Transnational Studies. His work, deeply ethnographic, examines the moral dimensions of contemporary political practice. O’Neill’s first book, City of God (University of California Press 2010), details Neo-Pentecostalism’s relationship to democratization at the level of citizenship in postwar Guatemala. His second book, Secure the Soul (University of California Press 2015), tracks Christian piety’s entanglement with Central American security. O’Neill is currently writing two books. Both focus on instances of humans hunting humans. The first, titled Hunted, is under contract with the University of Chicago Press’s Class 200 Series. It explores the predatory pastoralism that so often underwrites compulsory drug rehabilitation centers in Guatemala City. The second book considers clerical sexual abuse in Latin America.

Eda Pepi, Yale University

Eda Pepi is a sociocultural anthropologist of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.  She is Assistant Professor of Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Yale University, where she works at the intersections of feminist studies, political anthropology, and the anthropology of kinship.  Her research and publications focus broadly on the cultural and historical processes through which gender, ethnicity, citizenship, sovereignty, and the state have been forged in contemporary MENA territories, as well as across the Class A League of Nations mandates in the Middle East (1917–1948). Pepi is at work on her first book, Marital States: Ethnicity and Gendered Citizenship in Jordan, which explores how states manage political and economic problems, like statelessness, through families.  This project examines ethnographically how Jordan polices its borders by regulating the marital and reproductive choices of Jordanian women, showing that our understandings of the state cannot stand separate from analyses of gender and kinship.  She is currently developing a second ethnographic project—States of Collision: Policing Mixed-Race Families in the Western Sahara Borderland—to continue her inquiry into gendered and racialized policing of marriage.  This book project shines ethnographic light on the militarization of the contested Western Sahara borderland through the policing of mixed-race and mixed-nationality families by local paramilitary movements, national militaries, and international peacekeeping forces.

Junaid Rana, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Junaid Rana is an anthropologist who writes about global capitalism, diaspora, racism, and social protest movements. He is an associate professor of Asian American Studies with appointments in the Department of Anthropology, the Center for South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, and the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory. He is the author of Terrifying Muslims: Race and Labor in the South Asian Diaspora (Duke, 2011), winner of the 2013 Association of Asian American Studies Book Award in the Social Sciences.

Malcolm Shanks, Race Forward: Center for Racial Innovation

Malcolm Shanks is the Lead Trainer at Race Forward. They co-facilitate Race Forward racial justice trainings and provide coaching and consulting to organizations and institutions that need support in developing practice that produce racially equitable outcomes and promote racial justice.Malcolm worked as a political organizer at the National LGBTQ Task Force. They provided support to LGBTQ state and local campaigns, and created training and leadership development opportunities for organizers and activists across many movements around the country, specifically focused on those whose work combined racial, economic, and gender justice agendas. They develop movement history workshops concentrating on organizing lessons learned from militant and radical leftist movements.

Ather Zia, University of Northern Colorado

Ather Zia has been a journalist with BBC World service. She has also done a brief stint as a civil servant with the Kashmir government which in a lighter vein she refers to as her *pre-pre-preliminary fieldwork*. She is a published author and columnist. Her essays and creative work including fiction and poetry have appeared in a variety of magazines. She has also published her first collection of poems titled “The Frame.” In 2013 she won the second prize for ethnographic poetry on Kashmir from the Society for Humanistic Anthropology (American Anthropological Association). She is the founder-editor of Kashmir Lit, a digital journal based on writings on Kashmir. She has been elected to the board of Society of Humanistic Anthropology (SHA) of the Anthropological Association of America (2015-2016) and is also the book review editor “elect” (2017), for the Anthropology News (Association for Feminist Anthropology Section). In 2011 she co-founded Critical Kashmir Studies, an interdisciplinary network of scholars working on the Kashmir region. In addition to scholarly endeavors the group strongly focuses on applied and engaged anthropology projects. Ather’s other major writing projects include co-editing a reader on Kashmir titled “They Gave Us Blood’: Narratives of Normalcy, Sacrifice, and Terror in Kashmir,” a non-fiction anthology based on ethnographic narratives of politics in Kashmir with Harper Collins and an anthology of ethnographic poetry based on her fieldwork in Kashmir titled, “Field In-verse.”