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Faculty Staff

NamePositionResearch Interests
Professor Yasir Suleiman His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Sa'id Professor of Modern Arabic Studies

Cultural politics of the Middle East with special focus on identity, conflict, diaspora studies and modernization in so far as these issues relate to language, modern Arabic literature, translation and memory. He also conducts research in Arabic grammatical theory and the Arabic intellectual tradition in the pre-modern period.


Professor Geoffrey Khan Regius Professor of Hebrew Chairman of the Faculty Board

The Neo-Aramaic dialects, with particular attention to those of the North Eastern Neo-Aramaic group (NENA) spoken in northern Iraq, southeastern Turkey and northwestern Iran. Biblical Hebrew reading traditions. Biblical Hebrew syntax. The Karaite tradition of Hebrew grammatical thought. Arabic papyrology.


Dr Paul Anderson University Lecturer in Middle Eastern Studies Dr Anderson is a social anthropologist interested in the study of morality and politics in the Arab world. His current research explores everyday life under authoritarianism in Syria in 2008-09, mainly among male shopkeepers and traders in Aleppo. He has written about practices and concepts of moral personhood, and the social and political effects of speech, in Syria and Egypt.
Dr Yaron Peleg Kennedy Leigh Lecturer in Modern Hebrew Studies A history of romance in modern Hebrew literature, especially the paradoxical absence of it from the modern Hebrew roman or novel; study of American Hebrew literature in the twentieth century.

Postdoctoral Researchers

NameResearch TopicCollaborator
Lidia Napiorkowska

Lidia Napiorkowska's research concentrates on the documentation  and description of some of the endangered varieties of Neo-Aramaic. She is working especially on the Christian dialects from north-eastern  Iraq and south-eastern Turkey. Her post-doctoral project is the documentation of the Neo-Aramaic dialectal cluster of Gargarnaye, funded by the Endangered Languages Documentation Programme administered by SOAS, University of London.

Her work methodology combines a diachronic view with a broader  linguistic approach, taking into account also language contact and dialectology. More broadly, she is interested in Semitic  languages and their evolution, studied especially from a comparative perspective, as well as in a more theoretical linguistic framework of language description and typology.


Prof Geoffrey Khan


Graduate Students

NameResearch TopicSupervisor
Samar Samir Mezghanni

My research aims to examine the representation of Muslim people, places and values in British newspapers from 9/11 to the Arab Spring. The research conducts a comparative analysis between mainstream newspapers and those that cater to Muslim and Jewish communities in the United Kingdom. It looks at the similarities, differences, consistencies and changes in the discourses of these newspapers throughout this timeframe.

Prof Yasir Suleiman
Oz Aloni The Jewish Community of Zakho Prof Geoffrey Khan
Maryam Serajiantehrani

My PhD research focuses on a semiotic analysis of Sohrab Sepehri’s poetry so as to discover hidden layers of meaning in his works. The findings of this analysis will then enable me to unveil the dialogue his work has with the mainstream discourse of early English Romanticism and to examine the legitimacy of calling him a Romantic poet.

Dr Christine van Ruymbeke
Kathrin Göransson (Catherine Egger)

My research focuses on the expression of the middle and the passive voice in North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic (NENA). In English, passive voice is expressed in sentences such as “The book was read by me”, in contrast to the active sentence “I read the book”. The middle voice, however, is not clearly marked in English: In a middle sentence such as “The door opens”, the verb has the same form as in the active sentence “He opens the door”. In Aramaic, both the middle and the passive voice are often grammatically marked, but the manner of this marking shows much variation among the various NENA dialects and has also changed dramatically over time.

While my research is a comparative study on the enormous diversity of modern NENA dialects, I am also taking the fascinatingly rich history of this ancient language, which has been attested for almost 3000 years, into account. Since NENA has been strongly influenced by Kurdish, Persian, Azerbaijani and Arabic, language contact is another important aspect of my research.

Prof Geoffrey Khan
Illan Gonen

Illan Gonen is studying the grammar of Jewish Zakho, a highly endangered dialect of the Lishana Deni group of North-Eastern Neo-Aramaic, originally thrived in North-West Iraq and nowadays still spoken by one or two dozens of speakers in Jerusalem.


Prof Geoffrey Khan
Chaoqun Lian

Chaoqun Lian's research examines the discourse of the Arabic language academies in Syria, Egypt, Iraq, Morocco and Jordan. The aim is to understand general trends and movements of Arabic Language Planning and Language Policy (LPLP) in relation to nationalism, postcoloniality and modernisation in the twentieth-century Arabic-speaking world. His research explains how three levels of LPLP, symbolic, status and corpus planning, are inter-connected discursively, and how academic- and folk-linguistic discourses meet each other when these language academies deal with issues of language standardisation, Arabisation and modernisation respectively. 

Prof Yasir Suleiman
Zehavit Zaslansky

Zehavit Zaslansky's dissertation examines the work of five Hebrew poets who lived in Europe in the early part of the twentieth century and the manner in which their poetry is informed by the experience of geographic dislocation and diaspora. By focusing on the transnational network of geographic, linguistic and cultural affiliations of these early modernists, the project will draw attention to the relation between diasporic lives and a "diasporic poetics." In so doing the dissertation also responds to the need to reconsider, and even revise, the teleological paradigm of 'diaspora to nationhood' in Hebrew literary studies.


Dr Yaron Peleg


Affiliated Researchers

NamePositionResearch Interests
Dr Firuza Abdullaeva Academic Associate, Head of the Shahnama Centre, Pembroke College Classical and modern Persian literature, medieval Islamic book art and codicology, travelogue literature of the Qajar period, Russian Orientalist literature in Central Asia.
Prof Francois de Blois Affiliated Researcher
Dr Khalid Hroub Director of Cambridge Media Centre Contemporary history and politics of the Middle East with focus on Islamism and its political manifestations; the socio-political and cultural impact of the 'new' media in the Arab world; the role of public intellectual; and Arab novel.
Dr Bruno de Nicola Affiliated Researcher

Medieval History of Iran, Central Asia and Anatolia; cultural and religious interaction in the Medieval Mediterranean World (Iberia and Anatolia); History of women in the Mongol Empire; Islamic manuscripts; Hagiographic Literature.

Bruno De Nicola has conducted research on women in the Mongol empire, looking at how their role in society was transformed through processes of acculturation and islamisation. More recently, he has developed an increased interest in the study of Islamic manuscripts and the applicability of technologies to describe, catalogue and make more accessible this material to researchers and the general public.  

In January 2012 he joined the University of St. Andrews to work on the  European Union funded research project “The Islamisation of Anatolia, c. 1100-1500” (ERC FP7 grant 284076) under the direction of Dr Andrew Peacock. (


Postdoctoral Affiliated Researchers

Dr Toby Matthiesen

Abdullah al-Mubarak Research Fellow in Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies


Dr Toby Matthiesen is currently working on a book based on his PhD "The Shia of Saudi Arabia: Identity Politics, Sectarianism, and the State", which won the 2012 APSA (American Political Science Association) Aaron Wildavsky Award for the Best Dissertation on Religion and Politics.

In 2013 he published "Sectarian Gulf Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and the Arab Spring That Wasn’t". This book was based on a research project that looked at how the Arab Spring protests affected the Gulf states and how these states responded to protests both at home and in the wider Arab world.

His next research project is a reappraisal of the history of the Arab Left and the role of the Gulf states in the Cold War. This study links the US-Soviet struggle for global supremacy with the history of the leftists in the Gulf states.

Junior Research Fellow, Homerton College, Social Anthropology Western Sahara. Tribes, kinship, marriage, government, statehood.